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Care Leavers and Benefits - Can I Claim Benefits if I am a Care Leaver?

Read our guide to benefits for care leavers

Can I Claim Benefits if I am a Care Leaver?

If you are a care leaver aged under 18, even if you would otherwise meet all the qualifying conditions for the benefit, you will not be able to claim:

No one else (for example, a parent/guardian) can receive any extra money in their benefits for you either.

This is because social services have the responsibility for meeting your needs for maintenance, accommodation and support, and so you are excluded from receiving benefits which cover the same things.

You can still get any other benefits which may apply to you, for example Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Child Disability Payment Scotland, Adult Disability Payment Scotland or Carer’s Allowance

If you are a care leaver and you are struggling, you should ask for help from social services.

If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says you are a care leaver and social services says you’re not a care leaver, you should get help from an adviser.


As a care leaver, you can claim Universal Credit if:

  • You have limited capability for work or you are waiting for an assessment to see if you have limited capability for work and you have a fit note from your GP saying you are not fit for work; or
  • You or your partner are responsible for a child under 16.

You won’t get the housing costs element for your rent.

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, if you are a care leaver who is already getting ESA, you can carry on getting it if you carry on having limited capability for work.

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) but if you are already getting them, you can carry on receiving them as long as you continue to meet the conditions. 

Reviewed: May 2022

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