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Claiming benefits 

Information on filling out forms, benefits assessments, and where to find out more.

We know it’s hard to access benefits. Often the media, or other people’s views, makes it feel like there’s a stigma attached to benefits. Some people have misconceptions about why we need benefits, and what they’re used for.

For many of us with mental health problems, it can feel like the whole benefits system isn’t designed to meet our needs.

But it’s important to know that benefits are there to support you. You have a right to claim them if you’re struggling to manage or just need that bit extra.

And even though the system is hard to navigate, there are lots of places where you can get support and information to help you with your claim. The information on this page might help get you started.

"It's OK to claim benefits and to spend money on yourself. Never be afraid to seek advice or help."

Which benefits could I claim?

You may be able to access several benefits if you have a mental health problem. Benefits can help you pay for day-to-day costs, like food, rent and childcare. And you can claim some benefits even if you’re working. Find out which benefits you could claim by:

Autumnal park with leaves covering the grass

A breakdown, benefits, debt and brown envelopes

"The more I worried about money, the more unwell I got."

A fairer benefits system?

We at Mind think the benefits system should work better for people with mental health problems.

Campaign with us

Filling in benefits forms

For most benefits, you’ll have to fill in a form before you’re able to receive any money.

This can be daunting, and it might be hard to know where to start. Here are some tips for filling in forms:

  • If the form is in a format you find difficult, see if you can fill it out another way. For example, you can get some forms in larger text, sent as hard copies in the post, or you can complete some over the phone.
  • Check the deadline for when you need to return the form, and put the date somewhere you will remember. If you need more time, contact the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as soon as you can to let them know you need extra time.
  • If you can, find a relaxing space to complete the form. Take regular breaks, as it can feel upsetting to write the information down. Try to do something nice for yourself once you’ve finished.
  • Take time to read through the form and make sure you understand the questions before filling it out. Read over your answers again when you have completed it.
  • Ask a family member or friend to help you complete the form.
  • Some forms will ask for evidence of your mental health problem. Evidence could be things like doctor’s letters, prescriptions, statements from friends, family or co–workers, or photographs from around your home. It’s helpful to check what evidence you need, and get copies. The Mental Health and Money Advice website has more information about the evidence you need to support a benefits claim.
  • Get help if you need it. Charities like Citizens Advice and Scope can look over a draft for you, or they can help you write the entire form.

Find out how to fill in the form for:

"The application form is so stressful. I found it really difficult to navigate, so I went to the job centre and thankfully they helped me."

Benefits assessments

For some benefits, you’ll have to go to an assessment to make sure you meet the criteria to receive that benefit.

You might be worried about the assessment, and that’s understandable. Lots of people have told us it can be hard to know what to expect at the assessment, or know how to answer the questions.

Find out more about what happens at the assessment for:

See our information on how to manage stress and anxiety around assessments.

Appealing a benefits decision

You might have applied for benefits and been unsuccessful. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re not sure why you weren’t eligible.

However, you can appeal a decision if you think it was wrong. Even if it feels off–putting, or you’re worried about being turned down for a second time, it can still be worth trying. Remember, it’s completely within your rights to appeal a decision you think is wrong.

The Mental Health and Money Advice website has more information on how to appeal a benefits decision.

A year of living dangerously close to the edge

"I'm broke. Again. My head starts to spiral."

This information was published in August 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

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