Benefits Expert: ‘Savings under £10,000 are ignored’

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Q I AM 64 and have had to give up work to look after my wife, who has chest trouble, and my son who has mental health problems and for whom I receive Carer’s Allowance.

My wife, aged 69, has a State Pension of £54 a week. Our joint savings are £60,000 and I also have an occupational pension of £209 a month.

We pay full Council Tax of £1,200 a year.

I have applied for Attendance Allowance for my wife, but was turned down.

I was briefly paid Employment and Support Allowance for anxiety, but this stopped when I was found fit for work. Can we claim anything?

Bill.

A THE benefit that would be of interest to you is Pension Credit.

There are two types of Pension Credit. Firstly, Guarantee Pension Credit that ensures a person’s income is brought up to a particular level. That level in your case is £232.45 a week including an addition for you as a carer. I am afraid you do not qualify for Guarantee Pension Credit because your income is deemed to be more than £232.45 a week.

As capital of £60,000 is treated as income of £100 a week, the income of you and your wife is assessed as £255.97 a week.

The other kind of Pension Credit is Savings Credit which is payable to people aged 65 and over, or who have partners aged 65 and over, and who have made modest provision for their retirement.

This would apply to you, meaning you would qualify for Savings Credit of £17.69 a week. You can claim Pension Credit by phoning the helpline on 0800 99 1234.

I am afraid you would not be entitled to any help with Council Tax as your savings are over the limit of £16,000. Only those on Guarantee Pension Credit can get Council Tax Benefit if their savings are over £16,000.

Q My mother has State Pension, and full rent and Council Tax rebates. How much can she have in the bank before these benefits are affected?

Anon. (Sunderland)

A FOR people like your mother, who have reached the pension age for women, savings under £10,000 are ignored.

As I explained to Bill above, there is a £16,000 ceiling for rent and Council Tax Benefits, but not for Pension Credit.

Q My husband, who is self-employed took out a private pension 22 years ago, but we cannot afford to keep topping it up. We have tried to get our hands on the money without success. Who can advise us?

Chris (by Email).

A TRY the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923.