Benefits Expert: ‘I cannot sleep, worrying about it.’

Money, money, money
Money, money, money
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I AM a 58-year-old widower living alone on Incapacity Benefit (IB) and a works pension.

I am worried that with all the Government changes I may finish up with only Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

If this happened I would lose my work’s pension as I only get this while I am receiving IB.

I am mortgage free with £6,000 savings, but being a leaseholder I must pay £1,100 a year service charge.

What help will I get with this if I have to go on to JSA? I cannot sleep worrying about it.

A (by email).

ANY “reasonable” service charge that you have to pay as a condition of occupying your home can be allowed for in your JSA as a housing cost.

People who pay rent have theirs included in their Housing Benefit.

As savings of up to £6,000 are ignored you would have your eligible service charges added to the basic JSA rate of £67.50 a week if you have no other income.

MY partner earns £1,200 a month for working 39 hours a week and he receives £22-a-week Working Tax Credit (WTC).

I have just started to work 26 hours a week earning £680 a month.

Will I now be able to claim WTC and if so when?

CH (by email).

YOU and your partner cannot both claim WTC separately.

A couple must make a joint claim based upon their combined incomes.

Your partner’s current WTC will be taking you and your previous annual income into account.

Around now he will receive a Tax Credit annual renewal pack asking for your incomes for year ended 5 April 2011.

Your joint WTC for the coming year will be based on this figure. Your combined incomes for April 2011 to April 2012 may turn out to be more than the figure you have provided, but this need not affect the WTC you are due.

Your joint incomes can be up to £10,000 more than the amount you have declared without your Tax Credit entitlement for the year being affected.

If your incomes for the coming year are going to exceed the figure you have provided by more than £10,000 you have two choices.

You can either wait until you receive next year’s annual renewal pack and report it then. You will have been overpaid and will have to repay the excess.

Alternatively, during the tax year, you can report what you expect your likely joint income to be for the year.

Tax Credits will then adjust your payments to ensure that you receive the correct amount without incurring an overpayment.