Benefits Expert: Can he apply for bereavement benefit?

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Q My wife and I have a net annual income of just over £15,000. This is made up of State Pensions of £125.41 and £58.50 a week and my company pension of £5,528 a year after tax.

Our savings are nearly £14,000. Could we claim any benefits?

T, by email.

A Yes. Council Tax Benefit of about £400 a year.

Q We are both 78 receiving State Pensions and my husband also has High Rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Will he have to take a medical this year?

Ryhope Pensioner.

A No. From 2013 all new and existing DLA claimants aged 16 to 64 will have to pass a medical in order to qualify.

The Government has not yet decided what will happen to children and pensioners.

Q I am 51 and live with my 23-year-old son who has just become unemployed and receives £50 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

I am off sick receiving DLA which includes the High Rate for Care but my half pay from work runs out this month. What should I do then?

Anna, by email.

A You should claim Employment and Support Allowance from Jobcentre Plus. Your employer will issue you with a form to support your claim.

Your son may find it to his advantage to claim Carer’s Allowance and Income Support as your carer. He could claim up to £30 a week extra.

Q My mother-in-law, a widow who lived with her son, recently died.

He is in full-time work but is having trouble paying for the funeral as his mother had no life insurance.

Can he apply for bereavement benefit?

G, by email.

A Bereavement benefits only go to certain widows, widowers or surviving civil partners.

Someone who was a close relative of the deceased may, however, be eligible for a Funeral Payment.

It must be reasonable for the close relative to accept responsibility for the funeral costs and they must be receiving a “qualifying benefit”.

For people in work, like your brother- in-law, this means Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Child Tax Credit of more than £545 a year, or Working Tax Credit for a disabled person.

The person cannot get a payment if there is another close relative who is not getting a qualifying benefit.

Q My JSA ran out after six months. Now I am told I cannot claim anything because my partner is working, earning £24,000 a year and she will have to keep me. Is this so?

Angry, Sunderland.

A Yes. After six months JSA is means-tested and not payable if a partner works 24 hours a week or more.