Benefits Expert: ‘I feel I was conned’

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Money, money, money
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QI gave up teaching due to bad health and an assault by a pupil.

After four years on Incapacity Benefit (IB) I took another job which I have just had to stop after six months.

Now I am told I cannot go back on to IB.

I must claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead but I apparently do not qualify for this.

We struggle on my reduced teacher’s pension, some industrial injuries benefit and my wife’s small wage.

I feel I was conned into giving up my IB. Is there anything I can claim?

Ex-teacher.

A It does not look like it. People on the sick who took a job used to be able to pick up their IB from where they left off provided they re-claimed within two years.

However, this rule was abolished on January 31.

To qualify for ESA instead you must have paid National Insurance in recent years or have a low income, but you do not qualify on either count.

Having been on the sick for so long, you have not paid contributions at the right time and your income is too high for you to qualify on low income grounds.

Q I am on Guarantee Pension Credit (GPC) with full rent and Council Tax rebates. How much am I allowed in savings?

I was told you lose £1 a week for every £500 of savings above £10,000 but what if your savings rise above £16,000, which is the limit for Housing and Council Tax Benefits (HB/CTB)?

J (Seaham).

A If you receive GPC you get maximum HB/CTB, no matter what your savings are.

If you do not qualify for GPC and your savings are over £16,000 you will not be eligible for any HB/CTB.

Q I will shortly be 65 when I will be on £182.69 a week made up of State Pension and private pension.

My wife is ten years younger and has no income.

Our joint savings are £46,000. Will we qualify for Guarantee Pension Credit (GPC) and the maximum Council Tax Benefit that goes with it?

R (by Email).

A Men could once claim a State Pension increase for wives who were under pension age.

This was stopped last year so you could only claim extra through Pension Credit. To qualify for GPC your income would have to be under £202.40 a week.

As your savings count as £72, your income is £52.29 above this.

So you do not qualify for GPC and, because your savings are over £16,000, you will not get Council Tax Benefit either.

However, you are entitled to Savings Credit of about £6 a week.