Benefits Expert: ‘What am I to do?’

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Q I am three years away from State Pension Age and have been unable to work for several years.

Because I was missing some National Insurance Contributions I had to claim Income Support for long-term sickness. This has now been stopped after I took the work-capability test.

I am definitely not capable of working and I have no income or savings. What am I to do?

Pam (by Email).

A As someone of working age you could only be eligible for an out of work benefit if you are available for work and actively seeking it, or if you have a ‘limited capability for work’ because of your health.

Your dilemma is that you feel you are not well enough to be a jobseeker, while the Department for Work and Pensions thinks you are not ill enough to have a limited capability for work.

If you appeal against the decision about your work capability, you can receive Income Support (less 20 per cent of your personal allowance) pending the appeal.

If you wish to appeal I would advise you to get help from an advice organisation like the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Q As a single person, aged 55, without dependants and receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance I am interested in how I could be eligible for Working Tax Credit (WTC).

How many hours would I have to work, how long can you receive it and do you have to re-apply every year?

I have tried to find this information out for months and months but to no avail.

Ms K (Washington).

A Most single people without dependants who are under 60 must work at least 30 hours a week to be considered for WTC, but certain people with disabilities need only work for a minimum of 16.

It is payable for as long as the person works the required hours and their income is below the appropriate level. People renew their awards each year based upon their latest year’s income.

Some people aged 50 and over used to be able to claim WTC for a year if they were only working a minimum of 16 hours a week.

However, this concession was abolished in April 2012.

Q My only dependant is leaving school to start an apprenticeship paying her £120 a week.

I understand that I will lose Child Benefit for her but what about my £92 a week Tax Credits and my £5 a week rent rebate? I work 37 hours a week earning £13,400 a year.

Mrs. M (by Email).

A The dependant’s allowances you have been receiving will be withdrawn, leaving you without Tax Credits or a rent rebate.