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Which welfare benefits can I claim?

Which welfare benefits could I possibly claim?

Whether or not you can get welfare benefits as a full time student with a disability or illness will depend on how long you have had a disability or illness, how your disability or illness affects you on a daily basis and what other income you have.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can be paid to help with the additional mobility and living costs of a disability or illness, (this is not affected by other income).

There are no specific rules for part time students so if you are a part time post graduate and you are claiming welfare benefits because you have a disability or ongoing ill health then as long as you continue to satisfy the rules for those welfare benefits you can continue your claim.

The main income replacement welfare benefit for someone who is disabled or has a long term illness which affects their ability to work is Universal Credit; you may also need to apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in order to be assessed for Limited Capability for Work as part of the Universal Credit claim process. Full time students with a disability or long term health condition will also need to be in receipt of PIP. If you have paid sufficient national isurance contributions in the past two tax years you may be able to get new style ESA and UC.

Universal Credit (UC) – is a new single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It is replacing Income Support, (income related) Employment and Support Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, and Tax Credits. You will make one online claim for your living costs, housing and dependent children. It will be made up of a standard allowance plus other 'elements' - for example for children, childcare, housing and caring. There will also be an element for those with limited capability for work. The amount you could get will depend on your own circumstances. It is paid monthly in arrears.

If you qualify, your monthly payment will cover everyone in your family who qualifies for support. 'Family' could mean you as a single person for example, or you might also be claiming for a partner and/or children. For more details see:

There are other eligibility rules which we do not explain here, which you must satisfy and which vary depending on the benefit – they relate to your residence in the UK, the amount of any savings you have, your income, etc. Claiming PIP and UC, especially for the first time, can seem daunting. 

The Legal Advice Centre at Queen Mary runs in term time a fortnightly Social Welfare Benefits Clinic and can help with ESA and PIP form filling and Mandatory Reconsiderations.

If you are unsure about your eligibility and would like detailed advice, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.


Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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