Welfare and mental health

If you have a mental health condition or you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to claim benefits to help you pay for day-to-day things.

*Last updated: 8 November 2021

If you have a health condition and/or you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to extra money to boost your income. This could be a significant amount so it’s worth checking to find out what you could claim. You have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain.

What benefits could I claim?

There are many different benefits that you could be eligible for. This page looks at some of the main benefits you could claim. Visit the Mental Health and Money Advice website to read about others.

If you need extra help because of a long-term illness or disability (including a mental health condition), you could claim a disability benefit. Disability benefits are based on the level and frequency of help you need, not on your diagnosis or the medication you take. It also doesn’t matter what your income is, whether you have any savings, and whether or not you’re working.

If you’re on a low income, you might qualify for extra money each week to top it up. You could also get help with your rent or mortgage costs and with your Council Tax bill.

Understanding the benefits system and applying for benefits can be difficult, especially if you’re unwell. There are places you can go for advice and support – see our ‘Useful resources and information’ section below.

Could I qualify for a disability benefit?

You might not think of yourself as disabled. But disability benefits aren’t just for people with a physical disability or long-term condition – they’re for people with mental health conditions too.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a diagnosis. What matters is how your mental health problem affects you. If it prevents you from taking care of yourself without help or from getting around safely, you may qualify for a disability benefit.

For example: Laura has been diagnosed with depression and often can’t get up in the mornings and get dressed unless her partner prompts her. She’s stopped going out because she can’t face seeing people. She sometimes doesn’t have the concentration span or motivation to cook a meal, so she skips dinner. 

Laura might not consider herself disabled because she is physically healthy. However, her mental ill-health is stopping her from taking care of herself, so she could be eligible for a disability benefit.

Benefits if you have a disability

If you find it hard to do everyday tasks because of a physical or mental health condition, you may qualify for a disability benefit. You could get:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if you’re under State Pension age
  • Attendance Allowance (AA) if you’re over State Pension age.

Everyday tasks include things such as washing and dressing, preparing food, taking medication, communicating verbally, socialising with other people and making decisions about your money.

You can also get help with mobility needs if you’re claiming PIP. These include moving around and planning and following journeys. You could have difficulty with them because of anxiety, agoraphobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for example. Remember it isn’t your diagnosis that matters, it’s how it affects you.

Mental Health and Money Advice has more information about PIP including useful phone numbers and template letters to download. Independent Age has more about AA.

Benefits if you’re on a low income

If you’re on a low income or too unwell to work, you could be entitled to help with your living costs, rent, mortgage, Council Tax bill and prescription costs. For emergency expenses, there are grants available from the Social Fund.   

What you could claim depends on many different factors including your age, housing status, who you live with, whether or not you’re working and if you’re a carer. You might be eligible for:

  • Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or unemployed. Many older benefits have been replaced by Universal Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance if you have an illness or disability that affects how much you can work
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance if you’re currently looking for work
  • Housing Benefit to help pay your rent
  • Council Tax Support and other ways to reduce your Council Tax bill
  • Tax Credits to top up your wages
  • Pension Credit if you’re on a low income and over State Pension age.

Use the free EntitledTo online benefits calculator to estimate what you could claim. It can be hard to work out what you can claim, so don’t feel you have to do it alone. A benefits adviser could help you – see our ‘Useful resources and information’ section below.

I’ve been turned down

If you’ve been turned down for a benefit or awarded a lower rate than you think you should, don’t be put off. You can ask for the decision to be looked at again. This is called a mandatory reconsideration (or redetermination in Scotland). If you disagree with the outcome of the reconsideration, you can make an appeal.

More than half of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) decisions are changed after mandatory reconsideration or appeal, so do challenge a decision you think is wrong. It doesn’t cost anything to appeal, although it can be a stressful process. You can get help with it from a benefits adviser.

Citizens Advice has information on challenging a PIP decision. Their pages on other benefits also include information on to how challenge decisions you’re unhappy with.

I haven’t been treated with respect while making a benefits claim

If you’re not getting the support you need or haven’t been treated with respect, you can contact Mind. They’re campaigning for a better benefits system and telling your story or getting involved in their campaign can help.

You can also speak to an adviser from one of the organisations listed below for support with making a claim and/or a complaint.

Useful resources and information

Citizens Advice has information about various benefits. They can also offer you advice by phone, email, online chat and face-to-face.

Gov.uk has information on benefits including eligibility, what you could get and how to make a claim.

Mental Health & Money Advice offers advice and support to people experiencing issues with mental health and money.

Turn2Us has an online benefits calculator and information on grants you may be eligible for.