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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Social Security legislation update

Housing and welfare practitioners should note the following changes to social security legislation and update their resources accordingly. 

Habitual residence

There have been many recent changes to the rules around habitual residence recently.  Currently, only people who have been living in the Common Travel Area for at least 3 months can make a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Habitual Residence) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 exempts certain claimants from this requirement to be resident in the Common Travel Area for the three months preceding their claim.  Further information on this requirement can be found in your copy of Housing Law in Practice NI.

The changes mean that someone returning to the CTA after a period working abroad, during which time they paid National Insurance Contributions will be eligible to make a claim for JSA on their return to the CTA without having to wait three months.  This exemption will also apply to members of the armed forces who have been posted abroad.

This statutory rule came into operation on 9th November 2014.

Definition of blindness

The Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 come into effect on 26th November 2014.  These regulations amend the current method for determining that a person is blind in a number of pieces of social security legislation.

The regulations replace the current descriptor “blind or is treated as blind” with “severly sight impaired or blind or treated as severely sight impaired or blind”.  The regulations amend

  • the Income Support (General) Regulations (NI) 1987
  • the Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations (NI) 1996
  • the State Pension Credit Regulations (NI) 2006
  • the Housing Benefit Regulations (NI) 2006
  • the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulatoins (NI) 2006
  • the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations (NI) 2008

To satisfy the new criterion a person must be certified as severely sight impaired or blind by a consultant opthamologist.

Tagged In

Benefits, Minority Groups, Welfare Reform, Legal

This article was written on 11 November 2014. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.