Benefits Expert: ‘I try to see she is OK’

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MY dear neighbour is 81 and has no living family, so I try to see she is OK as she has various health problems.

 Her State Pension is £150.05 a week and her private pensions £79.62 a month, with about £2,500 savings.

 She gets some Council Tax Benefit but nothing else. Is there anything she is entitled to, and could she claim assistance with having a shower installed? Dee (by e-mail).

THE help that your neighbour might be able to claim would depend upon the level of her income and the extent of her disabilities.

 As things stand, with an income of £168.35 a week, she would be entitled to Savings Credit of about £8.12 a week.

 She can claim this by phoning the Pension Credit Helpline on 0800 99 1234.

 She could also claim Attendance Allowance (AA), but whether or not she was successful would depend upon the needs arising out of her disability.  

 She would qualify if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) accepted for example that her disability caused her to need ‘frequent attention in connection with her bodily functions’ or ‘continual supervision to avoid substantial danger’ to herself or others.

 She can claim AA by phoning the DWP Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200.

 However, I would advise that she also seeks help from an advice organisation, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau in completing the claim form.

 AA is payable at either £73.60 or £49.30 a week, and does not depend upon a person’s income.

 It does not cause other benefits to be reduced and in certain circumstances can lead to a person being able to claim more in low income benefits.

 This is because someone is treated more generously for Pension Credit, Council Tax Benefit etc. if they receive AA, live alone and there is no one receiving Carer’s Allowance for looking after them.

 If all these were to apply to your neighbour, therefore she would be eligible for Guarantee Pension Credit of about £24.30 a week, Savings Credit of £20.52 a week and a full rebate on her Council Tax.

 A disabled person may be able to claim a Disabled Facilities Grant to help with the cost of adapting a property for their needs. This could help your neighbour with her shower problem.

 Again eligibility depends upon the nature of a person’s disability.

 The disabled person may be expected to make a contribution to the cost of adaptations depending upon their income.

 Anyone wanting to claim these grants should contact the housing department of their local council.