Benefits Expert: ‘Can she claim as my carer?’

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Q AT 57 I recently gave up self-employment to look after my wife, aged 74, because of her poor health.

She receives Disability Living Allowance of £361.40 a month and I have Carer’s Allowance of £53.90 a week.

We have £10,000 savings and pay a mortgage and full Council Tax.

Are we due any other payments?

Jim (Houghton)

A MOST certainly. You could claim Income Support (IS) as a carer, but it would be better if your wife were to claim Pension Credit (PC).

This is because the capital rules for PC are more generous, with savings under £10,000 being ignored. For IS £10,000 savings would be treated as £16 a week income.

Altogether your wife is entitled to £178.55 a week PC, plus an allowance for mortgage interest and a full Council Tax rebate.

Q I AM aged 37 and single and will soon be living on Statutory Sick Pay of £81.60 a week. What help can I expect with my rent of £535 a month?

Dick, Sunderland

A THERE is a limit to how much you can be allowed in Housing Benefit.

In your case the maximum would be about £400 a month, but your benefit would be reduced to about £360 because of your income.

However, if you could afford the rent when you moved in and have not been on Housing Benefit in the past year, you can have your claim based on your full rent for the first 13 weeks.

Q I RECEIVE £206.57 a week from my State Retirement Pension and private pensions and I have £7,000 savings. Is there anything I can claim towards my Council Tax?

Sunderland widow

A IT depends upon your age because the rules for Council Tax Benefits are more favourable for those aged 65 plus.

If you have reached 65 you will be entitled to a rebate that will reduce your Council Tax to about £555 a year.

Otherwise you would only get a reduction if your Council Tax is more than £770 a year.

Q I RECEIVE Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for mobility at the high rate and for care at the lowest rate as well as Pension Credit.

I am becoming increasingly reliant upon my wife for my daily functioning because of diabetes and arthritis. Can she claim as my carer?

Bill (Southwick)

A ONLY if you get DLA for care at the middle or high rate.

You can apply for your DLA to be upgraded on the grounds that you need more care, but beware. Your case will be looked at completely afresh which could mean losing the DLA you already have.