Benefits Expert: ‘Can I claim anything to make up for the loss?’

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Q I AM single, aged 56, working 16 hours a week for £421 a month. I was receiving Working Tax Credit (WTC) of £287 a month but this has now stopped. I pay a mortgage and single person’s Council Tax.

Can I claim anything to make up the loss?

Mrs. T (Grindon)

ABOUT £9 a week off your Council Tax due to low income but that is all. Certain non-disabled people aged 50-plus could until recently claim WTC for 16 hours a week work, but not any more.

Q I RECEIVE maximum Reduced Earnings Allowance (REA) of £63.24 a week for an industrial injury. How will this be affected if I take my mineworker’s pension or retire early? I am 57.

Rob (by e-mail)

A REA is not affected by income such as your mineworker’s pension.

It continues until you reach State Pension age before reducing to Retirement Allowance (currently £15.81 a week) if you have given up regular work.

So, even if you take early retirement, you can continue with REA until you reach State Pension age.

As you are 57 you will be affected by the coming changes to State Pension age. Yours will be somewhere between 65 and 66, depending upon your date of birth.

Q I AM nearly 61 and will be old enough to claim Pension Credit (PC) in July 2012 and understand I will qualify.

At present I am on Incapacity Benefit (IB) and I wonder if I will still be subjected to medicals once my PC starts. If I am signed off the sick will I be able to claim more PC?

Mr. R (Sunderland)

A WHILE you are on IB you can expect to have a medical for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) some time before April 2014.

But if you are signed off any benefit you lose will be made up by an increase in PC.

Q I HAVE been claiming Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) since 1995 because I had not paid the contributions for Incapacity Benefit.

When I lost my husband in January I claimed Bereavement Allowance (BA) which lasts for 12 months.

My SDA has now stopped because it is less than my BA.

When the BA runs out will I get my SDA back?

Mrs F (Ford Estate)

A YES, once your BA has exhausted your SDA will be reinstated, as long as you continue to supply medical evidence as and when it would normally have been required.

Eventually people on SDA will have to take the test for Employment and Support Allowance. However the DWP tells me they have not started testing SDA people yet.