Benefits Expert: ‘Are they right?’

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I WORK for 37 hours a week, but I had an accident in April which has left me disabled and in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Mobility.

If I were to reduce my hours would I be eligible for any financial assistance?

MR (by Email).

IF you are classed as disabled you only need work 16 hours a week to be eligible for Working Tax Credit (WTC), rather than the usual 30 hours.

Being disabled for WTC purposes means you must have qualified for a particular benefit and you are at a “disadvantage” in getting a job.

DLA is one of the qualifying benefits and being “disadvantaged” can mean many things.

There is a full list of them in the H.M. Revenue and Customs (HMRC) factsheet TC956.

If you do reduce your working hours, ask HMRC to base your WTC on your likely income for the current year, rather than last year’s which will have been higher.

You might also be eligible for help with rent and Council Tax, but this will depend upon your circumstances.

I HAVE been made an offer for my house and the buyer wants to complete the sale quickly.

However, I am still in the process of looking at properties. If the sale is completed before I can buy another property, how will this affect my Income Support and other means-tested benefits?

AA (by Email).

THERE should not be a problem.

If you are holding a sum of capital derived from the sale of your former home, and you intend to spend it on your new home, it will be ignored for at least 26 weeks.

It will be ignored for longer if it is reasonable in the circumstances.

MY wife and I both have pensions and she has DLA at the High Rate for Care and the Low Rate for Mobility.

As she has reached 65 I am told she cannot get the High Rate for Mobility even if her condition deteriorates.

I am also told that I cannot get Carer’s Allowance (CA) because of my pension. Are they right?

Mr R (Fulwell).

Yes. DLA can only be awarded to the under 65s. Once they have passed 65 they can continue to get DLA, but cannot usually move up to Higher Mobility rate.

There is an exception if they can show they would have been eligible for Higher Mobility before they were 65. CA “overlaps” with certain other benefits like State Pension, so you cannot get both at once.

But carers in this situation are more generously treated for Pension Credit and Council Tax Benefit.