Benefits if you are too ill to work
If you have had to finish work because of ill health then you should be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This benefit replaced Incapacity Benefit for new claimants from 27 October 2008. If you still receive Incapacity Benefit, your claim will be reviewed between October 2010 and 2014, and those found eligible will be moved from Incapacity Benefit onto ESA. You will need to prove to the benefits office that you are too ill to work. This will be done through a Work Capability Assessment which is meant to happen within the first 13 weeks assessment phase of your claim, however the process can be very slow and many people find they are waiting for much longer than 13 weeks to be assessed.

When you apply for Employment and Support Allowance, you will also be able to apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction (this used to be Council Tax Benefit, but now you need to apply directly to your local council for the reduction. Each council will have its own rules as to how much you will be entitled to). These benefits are also means tested, and it’s unlikely you’ll be eligible for either if you have any significant savings or live with a partner who works more than 24 hours a week).
All of the forms you will need to fill in to apply for these benefits can be quite complex and difficult to complete. If you are unsure about what to do, or about what you are entitled to, then it’s a good idea to get some advice, and you’ll find information about where to get advice later in the section on benefits advice.

There are various allowances which you could be eligible for if you are HIV-positive. To get more information on some of these, simply click on the "Read More" buttons below.

Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment
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If you experience health problems which affect your ability to get about or look after yourself, you may be entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is slowly replacing DLA. Unlike Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or the Personal Independence Payment are payable whether you work or not. It is not a means tested benefit so if you meet the criteria then you will get DLA or PIP however much money you earn or have saved. To be eligible you need to have, and be able to prove that you have, care or mobility needs.

“I was diagnosed in 2000 and have since experienced long-term problems with peripheral neuropathy, which has at times severely affected my ability to walk and look after myself. At first I was discouraged from applying for DLA since I was told I wouldn’t get it. However a couple of years ago, after talking to a friend who has similar problems, I realised that since I need help getting around I should be entitled to DLA. I applied and sure enough I was eligible for the lower rate care allowance and higher rate mobility allowance. I can’t work at the moment, so the extra £240 a month is essential for me to get by. I only wish I’d applied when the problems started as I missed out on money that I was entitled to. (Craig, 34)”

DLA is split into two components – care and mobility. The care component is payable if you need help with looking after yourself, such as cooking meals, getting dressed or doing the shopping. The mobility component is payable if you have problems getting about, such as with walking or lifting. The care component has three rates – higher, middle and lower – whereas the mobility component has two – lower and higher. PIP is also split into two components – the daily living component (replacing the care component of DLA) and the mobility component. With PIP, however, each component only has two rates – the standard rate and the enhanced rate.

Universal credit
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You’ll probably be aware that Universal Credit is a new benefit that is replacing six existing means-tested benefits with a single monthly payment.
Universal Credit is being introduced slowly starting with an initial pilot in four postcode areas in the North West for new claimants only. It will be gradually rolled out to the rest of the UK and extended to more groups of people from October 2013.
Universal Credit will eventually replace the following six benefits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Universal Credit will be claimed online followed by a face-to-face interview.

Other benefits
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There are other benefits that you may be eligible for. This list is not exhaustive as there may be other local benefits that you are entitled to:

  • Working tax credits. If you are working, or going back into work, and on or going to be on a low income you may be entitled to tax credits. If you are disabled there is an extra entitlement under this scheme and as long as you are working 16 hours or more a week you may be able to claim. This is one of the benefits that is being replaced by Universal Credit. Visit for more information.
  • Motability car scheme. If you get the higher rate of mobility component of DLA or PIP, you may be eligible for this scheme. This will allow you to have a new leased car which is fully insured in exchange for some or all of the mobility component of your DLA. Visit for more information.
  • Disabled blue badge. If you get the higher rate of mobility component of DLA or PIP, you will be entitled to a blue badge which you can use to park in disabled bays and other places (such as single yellow lines and parking meters without paying). You don’t need to own a car to qualify for a blue badge as you can use it in any car as long as it is being used to get you around. Contact your local council for more information and how to apply.
  • Free council parking. If you hold a blue badge and lease a council parking space, you may be able to get the space without paying the lease. Contact your local council to find out if this applies to you.
  • Carer’s Allowance. If you get the middle or higher rate of care component of DLA, or the daily living component of PIP, then your primary carer may be eligible for carer’s allowance. Visit to find out how to apply.
  • Free congestion charge. If you use a car and you hold a blue badge, you can apply to be exempt from the London congestion charge. The car doesn’t need to be owned by you; as long as the car is being used to get you around you should qualify. Contact Transport for London to find out if you qualify and how to apply.
  • Road tax exemption. If you hold a blue badge and if the car you use is only ever used by you or by someone driving you around, you may be exempt from road tax. Visit for more information.
  • Freedom pass. This gives you free travel on public transport in London, and is available if you are over 60 or have an eligible disability. Visit to find out if you are eligible and how to apply.
  • Free local council leisure pass. Depending on your local council rules, you may be entitled to use their sports centres and other leisure facilities for free or at a reduced rate. Contact your local council to find out.
  • Disabled person’s railcard. If you receive the mobility component, or middle or higher rate care components of DLA, or if you are receiving PIP, you will also be entitled to apply for a disabled person’s railcard. Visit for more information.
Benefits advice
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If you need help and advice about what benefits you are entitled to, or if you need help with filling in application forms for any benefits you are applying for, then you can get benefits advice from THT. Call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 and ask for an appointment with a benefits advisor.
Alternatively you could contact the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) who offer free benefits advice. Visit to find online advice about benefits and all other services offered by the CAB. To make an appointment with your local CAB branch, visit to find the one nearest to you.