Moving back to the UK and wondering if you can claim benefits?
Read our guide to see if you’re still entitled, and how to get it if you are.
Some things in life don’t turn out as expected, and there are many reasons why expats may need to return to the UK.
Sadly, finding work when returning to your native country isn’t always a breeze, and income can be an issue — whether it’s problems with your pension, or difficulty finding employment.
Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about claiming benefits when coming back to the UK after living abroad…
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Can I Claim Benefits When Moving Back to the UK?
Not everyone is able to claim benefits, and it may be necessary to take the Habitual Residence Test to determine if you are eligible.
The Habitual Residence Test is applicable to UK or Irish citizens coming to live in the UK from overseas if they have been living or working abroad for three months or more — particularly in the case of those who have don’t have much by way of close family residing in the UK, or who don’t own a UK property.
You’ll need to take the Habitual Residence test if you’re looking to apply for the following:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Support
The test involves a series of questions designed to determine how serious you are about returning to live in the UK, for how long you intend to settle here, and indeed whether you have the right to live in the UK.
Based on your answers and your supporting evidence, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or your local council authority will ask you for more information to decide if you are habitually resident.
These questions look at factors such as whether or not you have a UK property or bank account, whether you are a member of any UK groups or societies, where you expect to live, the extent of your family involvement in the UK, how long you intend to stay in the country, and how likely you are to find work.
It can take a period of a few days or up to six months to satisfy the requirements of the Habitual Residence Test.
A decision maker looks at how strong your ‘settled intention’ to remain here is and assesses whether an ‘appreciable period’ of time has passed since you arrived in the UK when making a decision.
If it is decided that you fulfil the criteria to be habitually resident in the UK, you should be eligible to receive benefits — although in some cases you may have to wait up to 3 months before being able to make a claim.
However, the 3 month rule will not apply to you if you were previously ordinarily resident in the UK and have returned to the UK after an absence of less than one year.
Claiming a Pension When Moving Back to the UK
The UK state pension is based on National Insurance contributions.
If you’ve paid pension contributions in more than one country, you may get separate pensions from the different countries, although if you have had a pension abroad it is definitely worth considering moving it back to the UK if you are intending to settle here.
If you are already receiving a UK state pension and have been doing so since 30th April 2004 you can continue to benefit from your pension without any break in your claim, but you will need to contact the Pension Service with your return date and contact details, both abroad and in the UK.
If you only started receiving your pension after 30th April 2004, or if you aren’t currently receiving a state pension in the UK but you intend to in the future, you will also need to pass the Habitual Residence Test (details above) before making a claim from the Pension Service.
Claiming Jobseekers Allowance When Moving Back to the UK
Jobseeker’s Allowance is a fortnightly allowance to live off while you’re searching for employment, and is based on your current income levels.
You must successfully pass the Habitual Residence Test in order to apply if returning to the UK after a long absence — even if you have been away studying.
In addition, you are required to have been already living in the UK for 3 months before you are allowed to apply to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Before returning to the UK it is vital to have as much already in place as possible, as it can take time to jump through all the legal hoops and satisfy the authorities.
If you need to find work, start actively seeking it before you arrive.
Organise a place where you can stay as soon as possible, and make plans for your resettlement like seeking out family and joining local groups.
And most importantly, if you have the means, save up as much money as you can before re-entering the UK — it could save your bacon if things take longer to fall into place than you expect.