After 52 Weeks


We will not be providing face-to-face advice or training for the foreseeable future. We will contact existing advice clients by phone. Our staff will continue to support our members and can be reached via telephone and email as usual.

We are working hard to move our training, where possible, to digital. For any queries, please contact our training team at [email protected]

We can only provide advice to people living in Northern Ireland. 

Helpline contact details:

Welfare Changes ring 0808 802 0020 or email [email protected]
Tax & Benefits ring 0800 988 2377 or email [email protected]
Business Debt ring 0800 083 8018 or email [email protected]
Debt Action ring 0800 028 1881 or email [email protected]
EU Settlement Scheme ring 0800 138 6545 or email [email protected]
For Historical Institutional Abuse advice and support call 02890 645919 email [email protected]

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Some benefits are not affected until you have been a patient for 52 weeks. Until then they are paid as normal.

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Rates Relief and Housing Benefit

Usually you will not lose your Housing Benefit (HB) or Rates Relief (RR) until you have been in hospital for 52 weeks. Short-term hospitalisation has no impact.

However, there are exceptions to this if, for example, you:

  • Lose your entitlement to Pension Credit, you would have to reapply for HB and RR
  • Claim the severe disability premium or carer’s premium with your HB or RR, you may lose this element of the benefits sooner than 52 weeks

This could happen if you lose your Carer’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance as you would then no longer be eligible for these premiums. In some cases you may lose your entitlement to RR or HB if you lose these premiums.

Housing Benefit will not be paid once you have been in hospital for more than a year. Rates Relief will usually stop after a year but if your house is unoccupied while you are in hospital, you may be exempt from paying rates altogether.


If you are part of a couple and one of you is in hospital for more than a year, each of you will be treated as separate claimants. You should claim HB or RR as if you are a single person. In these cases the person remaining in the house may qualify for Lone Pensioner Allowance and possibly other benefits.

There are no linking rules with HB or RR. Therefore, if you are discharged from hospital and then re-admitted, you begin a new period as a patient. Your separate hospital stays are not added together. Therefore, you may again be entitled to HB or RR.

Recipients of HB or RR should inform the Housing Executive or Land and Property Services of changes in circumstances.

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Social Fund Payments

You cannot claim Winter Fuel Payments if you have been in hospital for more than 52 weeks.

You cannot apply for Discretionary Support if you are in hospital unless you are due to be discharged within the next two weeks.

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State Retirement Pension

Prior to April 2006 State Retirement Pension was down-rated after a hospital stay of 52 weeks. However, this is no longer the case and your State Retirement Pension will be paid in full the whole time that you are in hospital.

Furthermore, if you are deferring your State Retirement Pension, you will continue to receive Extra State Pension or a Lump Sum Payment whilst you stay in hospital and defer your claim.


Benefits Paid in Full

Some payments are paid in full during a whole stay in hospital, including:

  • Employment Support Allowance/Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disability Allowance
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Widowed Mothers Allowance/Widowed Parents Allowance
  • Widow’s Pension
  • Industrial Death Benefit
  • Unemployability Supplement

War Disablement Pension can be increased if the treatment is for the war injury. Contact the Veterans Service UK helpline on 0800 138 1619 for further information.

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