Benefits Expert: ‘I’ve worked all my life - how long will I have to wait?’

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Q I AM 49, live alone and earn £110 a week for 16 hours work. I also have a further £18 a week for disability at the lower rate. Am I entitled to any help with my rent and Council Tax?

G (email).

IF that £18 is Disability Living Allowance, your claims for Housing and Council Tax Benefits will be assessed under the rules for disabled people. This would give you Housing Benefit that would cover your rent up to a maximum of about £91 a week as well as a full Council Tax rebate.

Q I AM a woman who has worked all my life since the age of 15. I will be 60 on April 3, but have been told I will not get my State Pension then. How long will I have to wait?

Mary (by email).

A BECAUSE the pension age for women is being increased to bring it in-line with men, you will get your pension on March 6, 2012, when you are 60 years and 11 months. The Pensions Service will write to you four months before then.

Q I WILL be 60 in November, but will have to wait until May 2013 for my State Pension along with Pension Credit, Winter Fuel Payments, bus pass etc. Is there anything you can claim at 60 anymore?

Carol (by email).

A THE age of 60, which was once women’s pension age, no longer has any significance for claiming benefits.

As the pension age for women is rising to bring it in-line with that for men, it is that age (not 60) that becomes the qualifying age for these benefits for both men and women.

This is now also the age when older people start to receive more favourable treatment when they claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

Apart from free prescriptions and eye tests, there is nothing you now get because you are 60.

Q MY husband has Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) of £96.85 a week.

Because he also has Disability Living Allowance which includes payment for care at the middle rate, I receive Carer’s Allowance of £53.90 a week for looking after him. We have £5,000 savings and get some help with rent and Council Tax. Is anything else due?

Mrs. M (Sunderland).

A YOUR husband could claim an Income-related top up to his ESA of £13.45 a week. Alternatively, you could claim Income Support as a carer which would give you £21.90 a week.

Either way, you would then become eligible for maximum help with your rent and Council Tax.