Benefits Expert: ‘I am at a loss’

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I receive Incapacity Benefit and Pension Credit.

Can I also claim Carer’s Allowance for looking after my mother who receives Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit?

Would her benefits be affected by anything I claimed?

Gerry (Hendon).

You cannot receive Carer’s Allowance because you already have Incapacity Benefit.

However, you can claim underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance which would give you an extra £31 a week Pension Credit.

Your mother could lose benefit if you actually received Carer’s Allowance but not if you only have an underlying entitlement.

You can claim Carer’s Allowance (or underlying entitlement to it) by phoning the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 88 22 00.

I have just been made redundant and am claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). I live alone, paying £289.21 a month rent and £56 a month Council Tax.

Will I be able to claim help with these or will my £3,800 savings prevent me?

George.

If all you have is JSA you will be entitled to full Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

People of working age can have savings of up to £6,000 without these benefits being affected. They cannot claim if their savings exceed £16,000.

At the age of 50 I have just split up from my husband due to abuse.

This leaves me managing on Incapacity Benefit of £94.25 a week and a private pension of £120 a month.

I have a 17-year-old son from a previous marriage who is at college and for whom I receive Child Benefit, £30 a week from his father but no Child Tax Credit.

With an outstanding mortgage of £90,000, I am at a loss what to do. What can I claim?

Marian (by email).

Even though child maintenance payments are now ignored, your income is too high for you to get Income Support at present.

However, after a waiting period of up to 13 weeks you would be eligible for a mortgage interest allowance which would give you an Income Support entitlement of about £37 a week.

I am surprised you are not already receiving Child Tax Credit because even people on incomes approaching £40,000 a year qualify for about £10 a week.

Where annual taxable income is under £15,860 a person who is not eligible for Working Tax Credit can qualify for maximum Child Tax Credit. In your case this would be about £60 a week.

You can claim Child Tax Credit by phoning the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900. In addition your current income appears to be low enough for you to qualify for a full Council Tax Rebate.