This section provides general information about when European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members will qualify for means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit. In the first instance, the person's immigration status will need to be identified in order to establish which eligibility requirements will need to be met. Establishing eligibility for benefits can be difficult, especially when a person needs to show that they have a right to reside. If a benefit claim is refused, advice can be obtained from a benefits adviser to find out if the refusal can be challenged.
A person with settled status (indefinite leave to remain) granted under the EU Settlement Scheme will be eligible if they are habitually resident in the UK.
A person with pre-settled status (five years’ limited leave to remain) granted under the EU Settlement Scheme will need to be exercising a qualifying right to reside to be eligible.
For example, a person will have a qualifying right to reside if they can show that they:
If the person is a worker or self-employed person, they will need to show that they meet a minimum earnings threshold for at least three months (the level at which National Insurance contributions start to be paid), or that their work is ‘genuine and effective’. For more information about demonstrating worker or self-employed status, see the EU Rights Hub's adviser toolkit.
A person with pre-settled status will be ineligible for means-tested benefits if one of the following applies to them:
Anyone with pre-settled status who thinks they may not have a qualifying right to reside should still apply for benefits and seek advice from a benefits adviser to help with the application or if they are refused. In December 2021, the Supreme Court found that it is not unlawful on discrimination grounds to exclude pre-settled status from being a qualifying right to reside for the purpose of claiming Universal Credit. However, following a subsequent tribunal case, some destitute EU nationals, who do not have a qualifying right to reside, may be able to successfully apply for Universal Credit. The Child Poverty Acton Group provides more information about this case and an advice note for benefits advisers.
A person who has the right to reside as a jobseeker, a self-sufficient person, a student or their family member, or as the primary carer of a self-sufficient child, will only be able to claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit (which is now only available in very limited circumstances).
A person can rely on their pre-settled status in order to meet the residence requirement for Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, and Carer’s Allowance. However, these benefits are not intended to cover a person's basic living or housing costs.
A person with a pending EU Settlement Scheme application will be eligible for means-tested benefits if they can show that they have both of the following:
A person who cannot show that they had a right to reside on 31 December 2020 will not qualify for benefits whilst their EU Settlement Scheme application is pending.
A person who can show that they had a right to reside on 31 December 2020 will be able to meet the residence requirement for Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance. They do not need to be exercising a qualifying right to reside when they apply for one of these benefits. However, these benefits are not intended to cover a person's basic living or housing costs.
The person will need to show that they have a Certificate of Application (paper or digital format) in order to confirm that they have a pending EU Settlement Scheme application.
The same rules should apply to a person who submitted their EU Settlement Scheme application after the deadline of 30 June 2021.
On 6 August 2021, the Government announced that people who make a late application will be granted temporary protection whilst their application is pending and Housing Benefit adjudication circular A10/2021, states, at paragraph 12:
‘Where a claimant has received a certificate of application from the Home Office, local authority (LA) Decision Makers should accept that the claimant has submitted a late application which has been verified and validated by the Home Office and treat it the same way as those who submitted an EUSS application before 30 June 2021. These individuals can access [Housing Benefit] and other income related benefits until the outcome of their application has been decided or they have exhausted their appeal rights.’
Non-EEA nationals who are joining a close EEA family member with settled or pre-settled status may enter the UK with an EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) family permit and will subsequently be required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Their benefit entitlement will usually depend on whether the EEA national they are joining has settled or pre-settled status. Their entitlement to benefits may be complex if the relationship with the EEA family member breaks down. In such cases, they would need to seek advice from a benefits adviser.
An EEA national who arrived in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 with leave to enter as a visitor, student, or worker, will be subject to a ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition. They will be 'subject to immigration control' and will not qualify for benefits or housing assistance.
If the person was living in the UK before 31 December 2020, they may be able to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme. If their late application is accepted by the Home Office, in order to qualify for benefits, they would need to demonstrate that they have a right to reside in line with the section 'pending EU Settlement Scheme application'.
Person who is required to be resident in the UK as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult in order to enable that child/adult to live in the UK.
Resident in a country/ area for an ‘appreciable period’ (usually of one to three months but can be shorter), with the intention to settle.