Benefit’s Expert: ‘I am concerned about the future’

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Q I HAVE been on the sick for a long time.

 I live alone in a home left me by my parents and my only income is Incapacity Benefit (IB) of £110.85 a week and Council Tax Benefit.

 I am concerned about what the future of my benefits might be in these times of change. What can I expect?

Mr. S (Hylton Castle)

A AS you are on IB, some time before 2014 you will be tested to see if you should be transferred from IB to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

 This will not apply if you reach State Pension age before April 6, 2014.

 If you are found fit for work you will have to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) which is currently £71 a week for those 25 and over.

 If you are found to have a ‘limited capability for work’, however, you will be transferred to ESA.

 The rates of ESA are currently £99.15 or £105.05 a week, depending upon the person’s prospects of becoming ready to return to work.

 As your IB is above these levels, your ESA rate would stay the same as your IB had been.

 Thereafter your ESA will be ‘frozen’ at your old IB rate.

 It will not increase until your appropriate ESA rate catches up due to annual uprating rises.

Q I LIVE alone and receive ESA. I have been placed in the ‘work-related activity group’ because it is felt I can take steps to get back to into work.

 I am thinking of moving in with my partner. What would happen to my ESA then?

Karen (by Email)

A IT all depends upon what sort of ESA you are receiving. If it is Contributory ESA it will not be immediately affected if you move in with your partner.

If it is Income-related ESA you will be re-assessed as a couple. This means his income and savings will be taken into account and your ESA could be reduced or stopped, depending upon the circumstances. For example, you would not be entitled to Income-related ESA if your partner worked for 24 hours a week or more. Even if you have Contributory ESA, this will stop after a year because you are in the ‘work-related activity group’.

 You could then only get ESA if you had low incomes.

Q I LEFT my last job after a row with the boss, but cannot get JSA because I had paid self-employed contributions in my previous job. Is this right?

Mr P (By Email)

A YES. But as you left your job of your own accord, you would probably have been disallowed Contribution-based JSA anyway.