Published on: 3 Oct 2017
If you’re leaving the Armed Forces and think that you’ll get State help to make your money go further, you may be in for a surprise. State benefits are hard to come by, so make sure you plan ahead and take advantage of the opportunities available to you before you leave.
Leaving without a job
If you have enough National Insurance contributions you should be able to claim contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance. This is paid for six months irrespective of how much savings you have.
At the end of six months, if you have savings of less than £16,000 and a low income, you may be transferred to Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit.
You must be available for work in order to claim. Talk to an Armed Forces Champion at your local Jobcentre Plus.
If your income and savings are low you may qualify for help with your mortgage [Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) ], your rent (Housing Benefit) and Council Tax.
But first you need to have found somewhere to live – see Finding a home when you leave Service.
If you have children, you should inform the Tax Credits office that you are no longer working or if your working hours change – see Changes you must report . A reduction in your income may mean your credits go up.
Find out if you are eligible for help with childcare costs.
Moving to Universal Credit
Universal Credit will replace a number of existing state benefits, including some of those mentioned above. It is being introduced in stages across the UK.
You can find out if Universal Credit is in your area when you use a benefits calculator to assess your eligibility.
It will take 5-6 weeks for your claim to be assessed and your first payment to arrive. If you think you’ll have trouble managing financially during that time, you can ask for an advance payment at your Universal Credit interview or by calling the helpline after you’ve made a claim. Take a look at the Money Advice Service’s Money Manager for tips on what you can do to mange the situation yourself.
Use one of the Benefits calculators on the Gov.uk website to see what you may be entitled to or talk to one of the Benefits and Money Advice team at The Royal British Legion.
State benefits are not the answer to your long-term future but can help get you started on civvy street.
Facing up to leaving Service
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