Benefits Expert: ‘What benefits might she still be able to claim?’

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MY mother-in-law is in a care home, receiving State Pension and Pension Credit.

 How much is she allowed to have in her bank account after the sale of her house and what benefits might she still be able to claim?

Mary (Farringdon)

THERE are two ways in which a person in a care home could be affected by the value and sale of their property.

 Firstly, these can have a bearing upon how much help, if any, people in care homes may receive from the Local Authority towards their care home fees.

 Secondly, the value of property may be taken into account when means-tested benefits such as Pension Credit are calculated.

 A person’s capital in these contexts includes the value of property that they own but do not live in.

 There are exceptions in particular situations, such as where the person’s partner or certain other people still live there.

 The value of the person’s home may also be ignored for a limited period in certain circumstances.

 If a person’s capital, which may include the value of their former home, exceeds £23,250 they will have to pay for their care home fees in full.

 The Local Authority will take the value of the former home into account as capital after the person has been a permanent resident in the care home for 12 weeks.

 This applies whether or not the property has been sold. Capital under £10,000 is ignored for Pension Credit but every £500 of capital over £10,000 is treated as income of £1 a week.

 This means there is no single common capital limit for Pension Credit. The amount of capital a person can have before they are disqualified for Pension Credit, therefore, would depend upon their individual circumstances and what other income they had.

 For Pension Credit purposes the value of a person’s former home is ignored for 26 weeks, as long as reasonable steps are being taken to dispose of it.

 More than 26 weeks can be allowed if it is reasonable in the circumstances.

 Attendance Allowance, which is a benefit for people aged 65 or more who need a lot of looking after, is not normally payable to people who get help with their care home fees.

 However it can be paid to eligible people who have to pay all of their own fees.

 Attendance Allowance can be claimed by phoning the Department for Work and Pensions Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882200.

 State Pension continues to be paid without adjustment to people in care homes, regardless of their income or capital.

 For further information you can contact Age UK’s advice line on 0800 169 6565.