Low Graphics | Accessibility

If a benefits office believe you are living together...

This page is for you if you receive benefits or tax credits and are having trouble because a benefits office believes you are living with your partner as a couple when you aren't. We want to help you get what you are entitled to and avoid all the stress and upset that problems like this cause.

If you are living with your partner as a couple, you must claim any benefits as a couple. The benefits office will take both of your incomes and savings into account when working out if you are entitled to benefits.

What counts as living together?

You do not count as living together unless you are living together in the same home as a couple.

We are frequently contacted by people who have been told that if their partner stays over 2 or 3 nights a week that it counts as living together, or that even though they have split up you still count as living together if neither of you has moved out, but this is simply untrue. If you have been told something different by the DWP, HMRC, or housing benefit office, don’t panic. We will show you how to sort it out.

My partner stays the night a lot but we haven’t moved in together…

Young couple sat on stepsJust because your partner stays the night with you, even if they stay most nights, it doesn’t mean you are living together. If your partner still has a home somewhere else where he or she pays bills and keeps their things, then s/he clearly doesn’t live with you.

If you have been contacted by a benefits office because they believe you are living with your partner when they haven’t actually moved in, you will need to show them that your partner doesn’t live with you. Usually the easiest thing to do is to prove s/he lives somewhere else. Give the benefits office evidence of any rent, mortgage, council tax, or other bills s/he pays at their home. If your partner has a driving license or is the registered owner of a car, these documents are excellent evidence as you are legally required to keep the address on them up to date. Evidence of important post like phone bills or bank statements that are sent to their home address will also help.

When you give the agency the evidence, get a receipt. If your benefits have been stopped, ask for them to be reinstated. Ask how long that will take and make a note of it, along with the name of the person you spoke to and the time and date. If your benefits aren’t reinstated by the date you were given, phone the agency and chase it up.

We have split up but still share the same home as we can’t afford to move out...

Woman in scarf
Depending on your circumstances, one or both of you should make a new claim in their name only. You will need to prove that you are no longer living as a couple. This means that, although you are both still living in the same home, you no longer sleep in the same room, eat together, buy food together, do each other’s washing or ironing, or pay for things as a couple (for example, you should be able to show that you pay your half of the rent etc, even if you are paying it to your ex). If you used to have a joint bank account, you should close it. You should let your friends and acquaintances know that you are no longer a couple.

It can feel like it makes very little sense to live like this, particularly if you have children together, but this is how you have to make it work if you are to be entitled to benefits.
It can be quite difficult to prove some of these things. You should expect a benefits officer to come round to check on your arrangements. If you have difficulty convincing the benefits office of your situation, get help from an adviser.

We have split up and moved out...

Advice Now Web 0016 OpIf you have split up and now live in separate accommodation, make a new claim in separate names. Use the calculator on the Turn2us website (see More help) to work out what help you might each be entitled to.

If you were claiming any benefits as a couple, inform the relevant office you have split up and are making a new claim in your own name.

May 2013

Get advice

Need help with a problem? Find advice services and solicitors near you who can help you solve your problem. Many people are able to get free help and advice.

Have we been helpful? Could you help us in return?

Advice Now Web 0033 Op

If you found this information helpful could you make a small donation to help us keep this website up and running. Just text the code ADVN22 £2 (or any amount between £1-10) to 70070 to donate to us. We are a very small charity and rely on donations, grants, and sponsorship. Alternatively, If you are a Facebook user you could share the guide you liked on your wall (there is a button at the bottom of the page) or you could post it to any relevant forums you use.

Married or not - One Plus One

Advice Now Web 0010 Op

Married or not looks at the differences between marriage and cohabitation, what your rights are, and how to raise some of the trickier issues with your partner.

One Plus One are partners in the LivingTogether project,

Tell us about yourself!

Tell us about you

We want to know a bit more about the people who use our site, to help us improve it. Can you spare a few minutes to tell us a bit about yourself in complete confidence? Take the survey here:Tell us about yourself!

Please rate this article:

Comments

hello i am a pensioner on pension credits and get half my rent paid through local authority, my son makes up the difference for me and i live alone - tho man friend stays over a couple of nights a week and my son does too. i have received a letter from job centre to attend an interview. i rang them and it seems someone has rang to say i cohabit! they now want to see passport and bank statements. what does this all mean do you think? i am now extremely worried.

, Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

i found this site very helpful

, Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

My child tax credit has been stopped because my husband sometimes stays with me we split up in 2004 and decided we would remain friends. Then after i got pregnant with my daughter who is now 18 months old. Income suppport say it's fine as he only stays sometimes and tax credits say it does matter if he stays or not. So they stopped my benifits 2 weeks before christmas I have been waiting almost a week form the forms which they say it could take up to 4 weeks to process. I do not get any financial help whatsoever, i pay all my bills myself. I'm well pissed off.

, Wednesday 10 Oct 2012

In this section

Have you discussed how you would divide your stuff if you split up?

Download and print our related guides

Get Adobe Reader

Get Adobe ReaderSome documents require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. Download it here.

Problems Downloading? Download help