Benefits Expert: ‘Is this right?’

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Q Being 64 I am not old enough for the State Pension but my wife gets hers and has £47 added to it for me.

I work part-time for £70 a week and we pay Council Tax of £500 a year after a rebate.

Our grandson has just been awarded Disability Living Allowance which includes the Middle Rate for Care.

I have been told I can claim Carer’s Allowance for looking after him. Is this right?

Mr. P (Pennywell).

A Yes, if you look after him for at least 35 hours a week and earn no more than £100 a week.

But you will not get the full rate of £55.55 because the £47 your wife gets for you will be deducted, leaving you just £8.55.

However, as a carer you qualify for more help with your Council Tax because you will get an additional allowance and more of your earnings will be ignored. That should reduce your Council Tax by a further £300 approx. per year.

Q I am single, aged 56 and receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) of £199.70 a fortnight and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Mobility of £205 a month.

I have the chance of a part-time job paying the National Minimum Wage hourly rate. How will this affect my benefits?

Bob (Sunderland).

A You have two choices. One applies if you work at least 16 hours a week, and are accepted as being at a disadvantage of getting a job because of your health.

You could then give up your ESA and claim Working Tax Credit (WTC) about £114 a week.

This would include about £26 for being over 50 but this element of WTC is being abolished in April.

The other choice applies if you work less than 16 hours a week and do not earn more than £95 a week.

In this case you just carry on receiving ESA. Some people can only do this for a year but your ESA rate is for someone in the ‘support group’ which means there is no limit.

Q When will I be able to claim Pension Credit? I am single, 60 years and six months old, living on a private pension of £265 a month and savings of £8,000.

Jim (Washington).

A For someone born when you were it will be when you have just turned 61 next May.

You would be due about £76 a week but you could be due other benefits before then.

Your income is low enough for you to get near maximum Council Tax Benefit and, if you pay rent, Housing Benefit as well.