Benefits Expert: ‘How will it affect my benefits?’

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Q I WILL be 60 in November and receive disability benefits and Incapacity Benefit topped up with Income Support.

 My private pension company wants to know if I shall be taking my pension from them at 60 or will I wait until 65.

 If I wait until 65, how will it affect my benefits? B.T. (by e-mail).

A ANY personal pension that you actually receive is fully taken into account in the calculation of means-tested benefits like Income Support.

 If the pension is available to you but you have not taken it, your benefits will not be affected as long as you have not reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit.

 Once you have reached that age, however, the personal pension will be taken into account whether you have taken it or not.

 The qualifying age for Pension Credit is the same as the age when women become eligible for the State Pension.

 This used to be 60, but has gradually been rising since April 2010 because the women’s pension age is being brought in line with men’s.

 The age at which someone reaches qualifying age for Pension Credit depends upon their date of birth.

 As you were born in November 1951 you will reach qualifying age for Pension Credit on 6 May 2013 if your birthday is between November 1-5 or July 6, 2013 if your birthday is any other day in November. If you put off taking your personal pension until you are 65 therefore, you will still be treated as receiving it from the age of around the age of 61 and a half.

Q WHAT will I be able to claim when I am 60 in January?

 I am working full time, but with all these changes I wonder how I stand for prescriptions, heating allowance and the bus pass. Alf (by e-mail).

A APART from free prescriptions, reaching the age of 60 does not help you to qualify for much these days.

 You now must have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit to be eligible for Winter Fuel Payments and bus passes. As someone born in January 1952 you will not reach that age until autumn 2013.

Q I AM 63 and have been divorced 15 years and never re-married.

 A friend in similar circumstances claims an extra £23 a week State Pension from her ex-husband’s contributions. Could I do the same? Mrs K.

A ONLY if you have not paid enough National Insurance yourself to qualify for a full basic State Pension of £102.15 a week.

 If you have paid less than this your ex-husband’s contributions can be used to top up your pension.