Benefits Expert: ‘I am at a loss’

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Q. MY wife’s boss does not pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). He makes his employees use holidays to cover periods of sickness. Surely this is not legal? G.S.

A. TOO right it is not! An employer must pay SSP to any sick employee who earns £97 a week or more from their fourth day of sickness.

 If an employee feels they have been wrongfully refused SSP, they should contact the H.M. Revenue and Customs Employees’ Enquiry Line on 0845 302 1479 who will advise them how to proceed.

Q. I HAD been unemployed for 18 months until recently when the Jobcentre encouraged me to go self-employed in return for payments of £50 a week.

 I then moved in with my fiancé and her child, but the Jobcentre stopped her Income Support and Housing Benefit.

 They said all I could claim was Working Tax Credit, but would have to work 30 hours a week to get it. However, I have very little work coming in and do not work as much as that. What can I do? I am at a loss. Pete. (Sunderland).

A. BEING responsible for a dependent child you can qualify for Working Tax Credit on the basis of 16 hours’ work a week, not 30.

 What counts as work when you are self-employed is not just the time you spend earning money, but on activities essential to your self-employment.

 These include things like canvassing for jobs. As a newly formed business, I am sure you would be spending at least 16 hours a week on this sort of activity.

Q. MY State Pension is £130.32 a week, and my wife’s is £59.79. What State Pension will my wife receive if I die first? Reg. (Sunderland).

A. YOUR State Pension is probably made up of three parts, Basic State Pension (probably £97.65); Graduated Retirement Benefit (GRB) based on the Graduated National Insurance Contributions you paid between 1961 and 1975 and State Earnings Related Pension (SERPS).

 If you die first, her basic State Pension would be replaced by an amount equivalent to yours and she would keep any SERPS and GRB earned in her own right.

 In addition, she would inherit at least half of your SERPS and half of your GRB.

Q. I WILL retire next month at 62 on a four weekly State Pension of £250.32 and a monthly private pension of £198.  

 My husband has weekly Incapacity Benefit of £91.40 and Disability Living Allowance of £18.95. Our savings are £9,000. What benefits could we claim then? V (by Email).

A. Pension Credit of £2.88 a week plus a full Council Tax Rebate.