Benefits terminology

Here's some of the main words you may come across.

Means-tested benefits

Some benefits are means-tested. In other words, the amount of income and capital you have can affect your entitlement. Means-tested benefits are available to people who can prove that their income and capital are under a certain level. If your means are greater than your needs (the amount the government estimates you need to live on), the benefit is reduced or may not be paid at all, so the amount you are entitled to can vary from one person to another. You can get these benefits even if you have not paid enough national insurance contributions.

Non means-tested benefits

Non-means-tested benefits don’t take into account your income and savings in the same way as means-tested benefits do, but they do have their own rules which must be met

Contributory benefits

These benefits are to replace earnings, if you lose your job or are unable to work because of illness or disability. Whether you get the benefit depends on if you (or in sometimes your partner) have paid or been credited with enough national insurance contributions. They are not means-tested, but if you have income in the form of earnings or pension payments the amount you get may be affected.

Non-contributory benefits

Most of these benefits are to help with the extra costs of having a long-term health condition or caring for someone with a disability. There is no means-test and no national insurance contributions conditions, you just have to fit the rules for who can claim. They are usually ignored as income for means-tested benefits.

Statutory benefits

These benefits replace earnings if you are off work due to maternity / adoption / paternity or sickness. There is no means-test but there are earnings rules to meet to qualify. These benefits are paid through your employer.