Benefits Expert: ‘Can we claim anything?’

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Q MY wife and I have combined State Pensions of £168.28 a week in addition to my mineworker’s pension of £233 a month and industrial injuries of £43.74 a week. Can we claim anything?

Mr. A (Sunderland).

A Yes. Pension credit of about £2 a week and Council Tax benefit that will reduce your bill to about £400 a year.

Q MY husband works full time and I am part time self-employed. I might soon have to go sick and wonder if I could claim any sick pay. I pay full National Insurance.

Mrs. K. (by Email).

A If you have been paying full-rate Class 2 National Insurance contributions (self-employed contributions) during the two tax years ended April 2010, you should be able to claim contributory employment and support allowance starting at £65.45 a week.

Q I WAS made redundant in December at the age of 69 and signed at the Jobcentre because I intend to carry on working in line with government policy. However, I was told I was too old for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). Is this right? Sounds like age discrimination to me!

George (Castletown).

A SORRY but the law says JSA cannot be paid to people over pension age.  

It might be worth looking into Pension Credit.

Q I AM signing at the Jobcentre for National Insurance Credits only as I no longer qualify for JSA. I believe that once you have 30 years’ National Insurance you have enough for your state pension. So do I need to keep signing on?

Dave (Hetton- le- Hole).

A CREDITS awarded because you have registered unemployed will count towards the 30 qualifying years needed for the maximum basic State Pension.

 If you already have enough there is no point in continuing to sign on. You can make sure if you have sufficient by phoning the Pensions Service on 0845 300 0168.

WHAT difference will it make to my benefits when my granddaughter, aged 23, comes to live with me?

 I am 76 and receive Housing Benefit that reduces my weekly rent from £68 to £5.59. My granddaughter earns £270 a week gross. Sunderland Gran.

A YOUR rent will go up by £38.20 a week, and if you pay Council Tax it will go up by £4.60 a week.

 As you have reached 65, these increases will not take effect until six months after your granddaughter moves in.

I AM 61, single and Pension Credit is my only income. Am I allowed to do any paid work? Ted (Hall Farm).

A YES. But any earnings over £5 will be docked from your Pension Credit.

With John Gordon