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‘Means-Tested’ Benefits – Could They Help You?

‘Means-Tested’ Benefits – Could They Help You?

What Are ‘Means-Tested’ Benefits?

Hundreds of thousands of people depend on benefits and welfare credits to get by. However, applying for some benefits seem a little more daunting than others, especially those considered ‘means-tested’. Typically, these benefits provide some of the most valuable support on behalf of the government – but they do arrive with the understanding that you will be ‘tested’ by the powers that be before you receive any money. 

So, what exactly are ‘means-tested’ benefits, how are they tested, and what might you have to do to receive this type of welfare from the government? 

a lady looking into means-tested benefits online

What ‘Means-Tested’ Actually ‘Means’ in Practice

Simply put, means-tested benefits are welfare/benefit payments that are granted to you based on the understanding that you will be financially assessed before you receive aid support. Essentially, the scale of monetary benefit you will receive for any given social allowance, credit or support will depend on how much the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) deems you actually need. 

This means that any existing income you may receive, assets you may hold, stocks you’re invested in, and other forms of wealth will all be taken into account to build an accurate picture of how much you’re entitled to receive. 

This process also determines whether or not you are even entitled to certain benefits at all, depending on your current state of wealth. This system is in place to, effectively, ensure only those who legitimately need benefit support receive welfare. Regrettably, welfare fraud is still an ongoing concern up and down the country – and this has led to the tightening of some rules regarding who can apply, and effectively receive, benefit payments. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can expect to fail on your first application. In some cases, DWP case managers may decide that you are simply entitled to less than the full amount you apply for. In any case, it remains crucial that you should only ever apply for those benefits whose parameters you actually meet. 

Which Benefits Are Means-Tested?

Not all benefits and welfare awards are provided straight off the bat. In fact, some of the most relied-upon awards require you, the potential recipient, to submit to checks.  

Of course, the DWP may change the way it tests and provides welfare to British citizens in the years to come. However, as a general measure, some of the more common welfare awards you can expect to be means-tested for may include: 

  • Council tax support 
  • Child tax credits  
  • Housing benefit 
  • Working tax credit 
  • Income support 
  • Maternity grants 
  • Funeral payments 
  • Cold weather payments 
  • Income-based jobseekers allowance 
  • Universal Credit 
  • Income-related employment and support allowance 

Should you apply for any of the above listed benefits of awards, your income and other forms of wealth will all be taken into consideration. Essentially, the lower your income and overall wealth is, the more likely you are to receive financial help, and the higher the support will be. If DWP assessors believe you have enough money to live on in line with your circumstances, you may not receive as much welfare as you anticipate. 

Essentially, if your means are higher than your needs, then the government will determine that you are able to support yourself entirely. 

This also means that such benefits as those mentioned above can greatly differ from person to person. They are tailored to suit your personal situation, which is why you may earn significantly more or less than those around you.  

Ultimately, it’s important to tell the truth – the DWP will know if you are hiding money in a savings account, as an example – and you may face penalties if found to be committing benefit fraud. 

What Happens During a Means Test?

During a means test, your income, as well as your other forms of wealth, will all be taken into consideration as money you can feasibly ‘live on’.  

However, it’s not your money alone that may be taken into account during means tests. The DWP reasonably expects some applicants to have access to money from partners or other family members – meaning any savings or properties you may own or share with other people may also be considered when you apply. 

It is also important to remember that if you have a long-term partner, then their income and capital could also be subject to a means test, even if they have not made the request for benefits themselves. As such, always make sure that your partner, too, completes any information requested honestly and in full. 

The timescales for means testing to complete can vary entirely on your circumstances, the extent of benefits to which you are applying for, and the type of welfare benefit in question. In some cases, it may take 2-3 months for decisions to be reached. 

This may be as such, for instance, where you may have to submit to a physical or medical test, which has been standard procedure for Universal Credit testing for some time. 

a group assessing whos entitled to means-tested benefits

Who May Be Entitled to Means-Tested Benefits?

Given the broad range of welfare options available to the British public, it is not always simple to confirm who may be entitled to such benefits. Crucially, the benefits system exists to help support people on low income, who may be raising children, who may be disabled, or who may need support finding work. 

A good place to start may be to use GOV UK’s guide to third-party benefits calculators, which will help you to ascertain how much you may receive in government support given your specific circumstances. Again, rules and regulations are subject to change – which is why it is a good idea to look carefully through DWP expectations before you apply. 

Conclusion

Although being means-tested for benefits may sound a little intimidating, it is essential to remember that it is a necessary and very common process. You can help yourself by keeping your affairs in order and considering your income and general wealth. You could also meet with a financial advisor to determine what kinds of benefits you could be entitled to – it’s always worth considering the option, providing you genuinely need the money! 

As we have touched on above, your financial situation might mean that you’re just over the eligibility threshold. At LoanBird we’ve adopted lenders with an easy approach to some affordable loans for you. If you need some money now – applying with us will only take a few minutes.