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Means-tested benefits give financial support to those who may need it - such as people with lower income and savings - helping them cope with rising living costs.
Below, we’ve highlighted what benefits are means-tested (such as Council Tax Support and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance), so you know which benefits you are and aren’t eligible for.
Means-tested benefits are awarded based on your income and savings. Many pensioners are eligible for these benefits too. You’ll also find useful information on what’s included in a means test, capital limits and how deprivation of assets works.
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Certain benefits are means-tested. These benefits are awarded based on your finances. Eligibility for a means-tested benefit is dependent on how much income and savings you have. To be eligible, you’ll need to demonstrate your income and savings are below a certain level (this will vary from benefit to benefit).
What’s more, the amount you’re entitled to will vary from person to person, depending on a range of circumstances. Often, how much you get will be the difference between your earnings and how much extra you need to live on.
Benefits which aren’t means-tested are usually instead awarded to people who require additional care or find completing everyday tasks more difficult due to an illness, medical condition or disability. Mobility may also be limited because of this condition.
Here are the non-means-tested disability benefits in the UK:
Bereavement Support Payment and the State Pension are also non-means-tested benefits (but aren’t disability benefits).
To be eligible for any of the benefits listed in this article, you need to prove your total capital is below a certain threshold. Before being approved, your income, savings and assets will be checked to work out how much you have in total.
There are several benefits calculators you can use to work out your total capital and which means-tested benefits you’re eligible for, including:
When using one of these calculators, you should enter all relevant savings, income and assets that could be classed as ‘capital’. We’ve explained what’s most commonly included below (though this does differ slightly from benefit to benefit).
When it comes to DWP means-tested benefits, the following could be counted as ‘capital’ during a financial assessment:
Any lump sum payments you received from deferring your State Pension aren’t included as capital.
Your eligibility for means-tested DWP benefits is determined by your income and capital. This limit is a government estimation of how much you need to live on.
The lower capital limit is £6,000 (or £10,000 for some claimants living in a care home). If your capital is below these amounts, you should be eligible for maximum support.
Usually, you aren’t eligible for any means-tested benefits if your capital is over £16,000. This is known as the upper capital limit.
If your capital is between these lower and upper limits, you’ll qualify for partial support.
A deprivation of assets (also known as a deprivation of capital) is where you reduce your capital - such as income, savings or assets - to make yourself eligible for a means-tested benefit.
If your local council believes you’ve done this intentionally, they may calculate your total capital as though you still possess these assets or savings.
Deprivation of assets is also common when it comes to paying care home fees, with many people reducing their assets so they don’t have to pay as much towards the cost of a care home. In this case, if the council believes you’ve intentionally reduced your assets, you may still have to pay for your own care.
Yes, the amount you get from means-tested benefits is going up each year. For example, payment rates for all means-tested benefits increased by 10.1% in April 2023, in line with inflation.
The benefit cap (the maximum amount of benefits you can receive) also rose by 10.1%. For example, the cap increased from £20,000 to £22,020 a year for single parents with dependent children living outside of Greater London.
This cap only applies to people of working age. You aren’t affected by the cap if you’ve reached the State Pension age.
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Benefits are classed as means-tested if your eligibility is determined by the amount of money you have and how much you earn. You’ll be eligible for means-tested benefits when you can show that your income and savings are below a certain threshold.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) isn’t a means-tested benefit, as your income or savings don’t affect your eligibility. Instead, your eligibility is determined by whether you have a medical condition or disability that causes you to find everyday tasks and getting around more difficult.
According to GOV.UK findings published in October 2022, households are classed as low-income if they earn less than 60% of the national median pay. Median income (before housing costs) for a couple with no children was just below £30,000 from January 2019 to December 2020.
Written by our team of experts and designed to help families fund later life care in England.