Benefits Expert: ‘Is it worth her while taking a job with so few hours?’

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Q Will we qualify for any benefits? My wife and I are both 68. Our four-weekly State Pensions are £460 and £235 while my monthly works pension is £360. We have £13,000 savings.

Sunderland Pensioner (by email).

A You are due Pension Credit of about £3 a week and Council Tax Benefit that would reduce your Council Tax to about £373 a year.

These will be backdated for three months, making you about £15 a week better off and with arrears of about £200.

Q I pay a National Insurance Contribution of £2.40 a week as a self-employed person.

I asked why I should still be paying this, even though I have paid for the 30 years needed to qualify for a full State Pension.

I was told it would affect my death and sickness benefits. When I asked what these benefits would be they could not say. Can you advise me what I am paying for? E (High Barnes).

Q We pay National Insurance Contributions because the law says we must, even though we may already have paid enough for our pensions.

However, people earning under £110 a week and self-employed people with net profits under £5,057 a year are exempt.

A If you go sick you must have paid National Insurance for the previous two to three years to qualify for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

As Bereavement Allowance is based upon contributions paid during your working life, your widow could receive reduced benefit if your contributions were not up to date.

Q My daughter, who is a single parent with a 12-year-old child, has been offered a 14-hour-a-week job paying £85 a week.

She has been told she can still claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) because she will be working less than 16 hours a week.

She pays full council rent and full Council Tax. Is it worth her while taking a job with so few hours?

The jobseeker’s helpline was no help!

Sunderland mother (by email).

A She will qualify for JSA but, because of her earnings, it will be reduced to about £0.45 a week.

However, she will be entitled to extras like full Housing and Council Tax Benefits, maximum Child Tax Credit, free school meals, free prescriptions and help with NHS charges.

Q Am I allowed to do any work while I am on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

George.

A Provided you work under 16 hours a week you can earn up to £95 a week without your ESA being affected. Most people, however, are only allowed to do this for a year.