Benefits Expert: ‘I applied for Income Support but was turned down’

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Q AT the age of 59 my Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been stopped because I have been on it for a year and my wife is working.

This leaves me with a personal income of only Disability Living Allowance (DLA) paid at the High Rate for both Care and Mobility.

Is there anything I would be entitled to claim?

I applied for Income Support but was turned down.

Mr G (Hetton)

A SINCE May 1, most people who have been on ESA for a year can only get continuing benefit if they are on a low income.

This takes account of a partner’s income as well as that of the person claiming.

This means, for example, that most people cannot receive continuing ESA if their partner works 24 hours a week or more.

That appears to be why your ESA has stopped.

People in your situation are losing about £100 a week in benefit, but there are possible options they can take to improve the situation.

Unfortunately, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) does not tell them what these are when they stop their ESA. You have to find these out for yourself.

There was no point in you claiming Income Support because this is effectively the same as ESA. What is notable about your case is that, as you receive maximum DLA, you must have significant health problems.

Yet a time limit can only be placed upon your ESA if you are well enough to take steps to improve your work prospects.

If you are too ill to take these sorts of steps, you should be in what the DWP calls the “support group” and your ESA would not be affected.

You have nothing to lose by asking the DWP to put you in the support group and to lodge an appeal if they refuse. If you can get into the support group your ESA will be restored.

This may take some time, so you may now wish to claim Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit as well if you pay rent. These depend on your income so, with such a big drop in yours, there is a good chance you could qualify.

Then there is Working Tax Credit (WTC) which your wife might be able to claim.

To qualify for WTC someone would normally have to be working 30 hours a week, but if she has reached 60, she need only be working for 16 hours a week. As you receive DLA for Care at the High Rate your wife’s WTC, if she was to qualify, would include a special addition for severe disability.