Universal Credit claimants are eligible for free prescriptions on the NHS – how to claim

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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The benefit payment is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). To qualify for free prescriptions, claimants must get Universal Credit and either had no earnings or had net earnings of £435 or less in their last assessment period.

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.

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

As well as this, applicants will have to prove they have met the eligibility criteria in the last completed Universal Credit assessment period.

The NHS Business Services Authority has an online eligibility checker for anyone who is interested in seeing whether they can claim free prescriptions.

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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.”

Further advice is provided for Universal Credit recipients by the NHS, which warns that anyone who is questioning whether they will qualify should pay for any medication costs until they find out their eligibility.

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.”

The NHS also noted the various circumstances in which someone should wait until they are completely certain they qualify for free prescriptions.

These include if someone’s Universal Credit claim is still 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.

Furthermore, people should still pay if they are unsure of whether or not their earnings are within the threshold.

Outside of free prescriptions, claimants of the DWP benefit are entitled to other concessions such as social tariffs on broadband deals and discounts on energy bills.

As it stands, Universal Credit recipients who are single and under 25 get a monthly allowance of £265.31 while those over 25 receive £334.91.

Couples who are both under 25 receive £416.45 a month, while couples over 25 get £525.72. These amounts are awarded to both individuals.

Claimants who have a long-term health condition or disability, which could require the need for free prescriptions, are also eligible for an extra monthly amount.

If someone who meets this criteria has limited capacity to work, they will receive an additional £354.28 a month.

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