Universal Credit claimants could get free prescriptions – are you eligible?

Rishi Sunak baffles MP with claims Universal Credit is 'generous'

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As people struggle to meet the cost of living amid rising inflation and soaring energy bills, Britons are being urged not to suffer in silence. Millions of people on certain benefits could be making savings on things like NHS prescriptions.

Claimants could be eligible if they receive Universal Credit and either had no earnings or had net earnings of £435 or less in their last assessment period.

The benefit is given by the Department for Work and Pensions and could prove vital for families feeling the financial squeeze right now.

Alternatively they can receive the payment, and one of its various elements, and either have no earnings or net earnings of £935 or less in their last assessment period.

To be able to claim this support, applicants should show a copy of their Universal Credit award notice in order to prove their benefit claimant status.

They also need to have met the eligibility criteria in the last completed Universal Credit assessment period before their health costs arose.

Britons can use an online eligibility checker to know if they should apply or not.

People should visit the GOV.UK website for more information about the Universal Credit assessment period.

Not all help with health costs claim forms have a tick box for Universal Credit.

If that’s the case, people should tick the box for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance instead.

Stuart Gale, the chief pharmacist for Oxford Online Pharmacy, encouraged those who are curious to check their eligibility for free prescriptions, including Universal Credit claimants.

Mr Gale said: “Consumers in England should first check if they can qualify for any free prescriptions – this can include Medical Exemption Certificates ‘MEDEX’ for conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroid and cancer.

“Prescribed contraceptives are also free or if you’re pregnant, or gave birth in the last year a Maternity Exemption Certificate ‘MATEX’ will provide free medicines.

“You’re also entitled to free prescriptions if you’re under 16 or over 60, in full-time education aged 16-18, you’re an NHS inpatient, on Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit – so check with your pharmacist if you could qualify.”

In total, 15 groups of people including Britons who rely on Pension Credit and Universal Credit should get them for free.

Others who rely on more than one prescription per month could save money by investing in a Prepayment Certificate.

Who qualifies for free NHS prescriptions?

People under 16
Anyone aged 60 or over
People aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
Pregnant mothers, or anyone who has had a baby in the previous 12 months and has a valid maternity exemption certificate
Those who are registered disabled
An NHS inpatient
People in receipt of Income Support
Anyone in receipt of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Those in receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Applicants in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
Some Universal Credit claimants
Some people claiming child tax credits or working tax credits
Those in receipt of a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
Anyone living in Scotland
People living in Wales.

People who fall into these categories should be automatically exempt and receive a certificate.

On the NHS website, the Government states: “You should pay for any health costs if you’re unsure whether you meet the eligibility criteria. You can claim a refund once you’re able to confirm your entitlement.

“You need to have met the eligibility criteria either in the Universal Credit period before you paid, or in the same assessment period in which you paid, to qualify for a refund.

“Make sure you ask for and keep receipts. If you pay for a prescription, you must get a receipt and refund form (FP57) at the time you pay, as you will not be able to get one later.”

If someone is unsure whether they meet the criteria they should still pay as their Universal Credit claim could still be being assessed by the DWP or if they are awaiting for a decision about their claim that could alter the threshold that applies to them.

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