Benefits Calculator and What to Know
If you want to know how much you are entitled to for any number of UK government benefit programs there is likely a calculator that can let you know exactly how much you should receive, or a pretty close estimate.
Whether you are unemployed, sick or disabled there are calculators that can help you start budgeting for your future. These calculators are fairly easy to use, but this article will help you find them and help you understand how to use them.
What You’ll Need
For the calculators depending on the benefit you are seeking there are a number of items that will make your process faster and more efficient. The more this information is accurate, the better the estimation of your benefit the calculator will provide.
You will need a complete financial accounting of your personal finances. This should include all you savings, including monies in stocks, bonds, savings accounts and any other financial accounts you might have. Make sure to have an exact amount of your income and your partner’s, including weekly, monthly and annual gross amounts. This should be before taxes and deductions. If you are already receiving pensions or benefits you will need to know these exact gross amounts as well. Next, do a full personal accounting of your outflows, including all living expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, and childcare payments. Also have on hand your local council tax bill.
Once you have all this material available you will be able to quickly assess your eligibility and the approximate benefit using a benefit calculator.
There are a number of benefit calculators in the UK to help you determine what benefits you may be eligible for. The best calculators are comprehensive of all the benefits available. Ensure a calculator you use refers to all of the following benefits that fit your situation. If you need immediate financial assistance, learn about Benefit loans here.
Job Seeker’s Allowance – a benefit for unemployed individuals that are currently seeking employment. This benefit is two-pronged including contribution or income-based benefits that provide benefit for proof of an active job search.
Income Support – is for individuals that are not seeking employment, have a low income and work less than 16 hours per week.
Reduced Earnings Benefit – is available for individuals that work less due to an illness or injury or disease caused while at your place of business. It is only for issues that pre-date 1990.
Employment and Support Allowance – provides those that are ill or disabled financial support and personalised help so you can work if able.
Housing Benefit – provides rental support for low income families and individuals. This benefit is available for anyone that qualifies whether you are employed or unemployed.
Winter Fuel Payment – provides tax-free help for winter heating costs if you were born before 1952 and should be automatic for pensioners.
Council Tax Reduction – is available for individuals and families in the low income bracket. The tax can be forgiven up to 100% depending on your personal situation.
Maternity Allowance – is paid to those pregnant mothers that due not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.
With many more benefits available from pension, unemployment, housing and child care you need to ensure that the calculator you use is comprehensive so you do not miss out on part of your entitlement. With £5.5 BN going unclaimed annually, there is a strong possibility you may be missing out on part of your entitlements.
There are many calculators but the following three are reputable and generally very accurate.
Entitledto.co.uk provides one of the easiest to use calculators that take you through the process step by step, without any confusing links to follow or extraneous pages to get lost on their homepage. Simply select an individual or an organization and click start calculator. Next you will be guided through a number of pages that help complete the full picture. These include information that you will need as describe above. The pages of information in order include Age and Disability Status, Bedroom Calculator, Out of Work Benefits, Benefits you Receive, Council Tax and Housing Costs, Net Income and the final results.
If you miss a field that needs to be filled in, the calculator reminds you in a blue box that you need to fill in the field and what needs to be inputted. All your other information already entered remains, so you do not have to start over again for any mistakes.
Entitledto also provides its calculator to a number of other organizations such as housing authorities and even MoneySavingsExpert.com. As the leader in the UK in benefit calculations for the UK’s social security system, it can be a true test to see if you are receiving what you are entitled to.
Turn2us.org.uk is second to Entitledto, but offers another great option for those looking for a second opinion. In fact, it is always a good idea to use at least 2 benefit calculators, using the same personal information to see if there are any discrepancies. With these calculators providing exact breakdowns of what benefits you should receive it is easy to compare their amounts. If there are discrepancies they would be easy to spot the differences. This could then be confirmed by benefit amounts posted on the gov.uk website for that specific benefit.
Turn2Us also provides a great service in offering information on alternate benefit sources such as charities and agencies that provide support to those in need.
Ageuk.org.uk is another benefits calculator but one that focuses on pensioners. There are a number of benefits that are available dependent upon your age. This calculator is the best if you are a pensioner.
Remember that any calculator you use is only an approximation and is based on the information that you enter. The more accurate your information the better the estimate will be. Yet using calculators to uncover benefits that you are not currently getting is their best use. This allows you to apply and find out what your total entitlement is.