Benefits Expert John Gordon: ‘Neither the Jobcentre or the advice centre know the answer’

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Q: I AM 62, unemployed, and have no benefits, only a private pension of £223 a month.

 My wife earns £130 a week, and has a State Pension of £115 a week.

 Our interest-only mortgage is for £180,000 and our Council Tax is £1,940 a year. What can we claim now, and if my wife stopped working?

A: YOU are old enough to claim Guarantee Pension Credit, which would take account of your mortgage interest.

 A mortgage interest allowance can only be allowed on the first £100,000 of your loan, and the interest rate used when working it out recently reduced from 6.08 per cent to 3.63 per cent.

 This means your income is currently too high for you to qualify for Guarantee Pension Credit, but you are due a Council Tax reduction of about £20 a week.

 If your wife stopped work, however, you would be due Guarantee Pension Credit of about £106 a week, and a full Council Tax rebate. You would get less help if you have savings over £10,000.

Q: I have recently taken voluntary redundancy with a works pension of £621 a month.

 I am 60, but cannot claim State Pension until November as the woman’s pension age is being increased.

 My husband works full, time and our savings are over the amount allowed for most benefits.

 But can I claim contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)?

 Neither the Jobcentre or the advice centre know the answer. If I cannot get it, is there any point signing on every fortnight?

A: If you are too young for State Pension, you can claim JSA, but you would not qualify because your works pension is too high.

 Any works pension in excess of £50 a week is deducted from contribution-based JSA, which is £65.45 a week.

 Your £621 a month (£142.83 a week) therefore wipes out all your entitlement.  

 By registering at the Jobcentre, you would qualify for National Insurance Credits, but I doubt if these would help you.

 If you have paid National Insurance on earnings of £5,044 or more since April 6, 2010, you will already have enough contributions for the current tax year to count towards your pension.

 I would imagine you have earned more than this so there would be no point in your signing on.