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Social Security in Northern Ireland

Social Security Agency

The Social Security Agency is an agency of the Northern Ireland Department for Communities (DFC). It assesses and pays social security benefits and provides services on behalf of the UK Department for Work and Pensions. There are Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Offices in main towns throughout Northern Ireland. You can get application forms and further information about all benefits from these offices.

Further information can be obtained by visiting https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/


Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance is the main benefit for people of working age who are out of work. It can be claimed by people who are available for and actively seeking employment, including those in remunerative works for less than 16 hours a week on average. If you’re eligible, it is paid while you’re looking for work. You should apply at the Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office.


Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

You may get SSP from your employer for up to 28 weeks if you become ill while you are employed. To get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), you must be unable to work because you are sick or disabled. Minimum earning levels apply. There is no qualifying period of employment but employment must have commenced. It is paid to you and subject to tax in the same way as your normal pay. If you are sick after 28 weeks of occupational sick pay, or if this ends earlier and you are not entitled to SSP, your employer must give you form SSP1 for you to claim Employment and Support Allowance. They should do this as soon as possible.


Employment And Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability. It also provides personalised support to those who are able to work. You can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by telephone or text.

Employment and Support Allowance rates are divided up into two phases: assessment phase and main phase. The assessment phase rate is paid for the first 13 weeks of your claim while a decision is made on your capability for work through the Work Capability Assessment.

An adviser at the contact centre will go through the application with you and fill in the form.  Contact: 0800 085 6318.


Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

You may qualify for DLA if you are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland (NI) and you need help to look after yourself, or if you have difficulty walking or getting around. You must normally have lived in NI for at least 26 of the last 52 weeks. The amount you get depends on how much care you need (care component) and the amount of difficulty you have in getting around (mobility component). For more information visit: www.nidirect.gov.uk or phone 0800 22 06 74


Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

You may get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) when you stop work to have your baby. It is paid by your employer. SMP is payable if you have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks ending with the qualifying week, which is 15 weeks before the baby is due. You must also still be in the job in the qualifying week and have average weekly earnings of at least the national insurance lower earnings limit. SMP can be paid for up to 39 weeks, this is called the Maternity Pay Period (MPP).


Statutory Paternity Pay

Statutory Paternity Pay is subject to PAYE and National Insurance Contributions and can be paid to an employee whose partner is expecting a child/children. It is paid for a maximum of two weeks. You can choose when to start getting your Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay. Leave can start on any day of the week on or following the child’s birth, but must be completed within eight weeks of the actual date of birth (or eight weeks after the expected date of birth if the baby is born early) from the date of the child’s placement, but must be completed within eight weeks of the date of placement.


Child Benefit

You may get Child Benefit if you are caring for a child under 16 or between 16 and 19 and in full time education. There is no means test. Further information can be found by visiting  www.nidirect.gov.uk or contact the Child Benefit helpline: 0300 200 3100


Tax Credits

Tax credits are an income based credit for people who are in low-paid employment and people who have children. Entitlement to Tax Credits is calculated on a yearly basis and paid by HM Revenue and Customs. For further information contact the Tax Credits Helpline: 0345 300 3900 or visit: www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits.


Working Tax Credit

You may claim Working Tax Credit (WTC) if you are employed or self-employed and you are on a low income. You must be working a minimum number of hours each week – people with children and people with disabilities must be working at least 16 hours a week while others must be working at least 30 hours a week. The amount of WTC depends on your income, the number of hours you work, and whether you have children. Extra amounts are payable to people with disabilities.


A more detailed description of the Social Security benefits can be found by visiting www.nidirect.gov.uk.


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