Benefits Expert: ‘Why was my rise so small?’

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Q BEFORE April my Incapacity Benefit (IB) was £108.05 a week, then it went up to £110.85.

I thought all benefits were going up by over 4 per cent, so why was my rise so small?

Confused

A YOUR IB is made up of two parts. One is the basic Long Term rate, the other is an age addition paid because you went sick before the age of 35.

 Prior to April your basic rate would have been £94.25 and your age addition was £13.80, making a total of £108.05 a week. From April your basic rate would have increased by 5.2 per cent in line with inflation to £99.15.

 However, the £13.80 age addition was reduced to £11.70 from April, giving you a total of £110.85.

 It is all to do with the change from IB to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

 IB was abolished for new claimants from October 2008 and replaced by ESA, which does not have any age additions.

 Like most people who were on IB at that time you will be retested for ESA by 2014 and transferred to it if you have a ‘limited capability for work’.

 Only those on IB who reach pension age before 6 April 2014 will not have to be retested.

 For some people who transfer, ESA will be less than the IB they used to receive. A typical person in your situation would currently be entitled to ESA of £99.15 a week.

 In cases like this a person’s ESA will be topped up to their old IB rate. It will be ‘frozen’ at this rate until the ESA they are actually entitled to catches up.

 The reason for cutting your age addition, therefore, is to reduce the gap between the IB you are receiving and the ESA you may be entitled to.

Q I AM a widow, living alone and have just become entitled to Attendance Allowance (AA).

 I believe this means that I can now either claim extra benefits myself, or another person can claim Carer’s Allowance (CA) for looking after me.

 Which would be better? Apart from AA I have State Pension and personal pensions that work out at about £273 a week? I pay Council Tax but not rent.

Sunderland Pensioner

A YOU will be more generously treated when you claim benefits like Pension Credit and Council Tax Benefit if you receive AA, live alone and there is no one who receives CA for looking after you.

 How much this helps you, of course, will depend on your income. In your case it would only mean a few pounds a week in Council Tax Benefit.

 Alternatively someone who qualified for CA could claim £58.45 a week.