Benefits Expert: ‘Make a claim’

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Q MY wife and I have weekly State Pensions of £122.57 and £64.40. I have a four-weekly mineworkers’ pension of £444, Low Rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA) of £20.55 a week and Industrial Injuries of £12 a week.

 We have £8,000 savings and do not receive Pension Credit. We pay full annual Council Tax of £895 and rent of £79 a week. Are we receiving all we are entitled to?

Mr and Mrs L (Ryhope)

A EVEN with an income of over £300 a week, which is too high for you to get Pensions Credit, you are still missing out on around £30 a week.

 You are entitled to a Council Tax reduction of about £200 a year and Housing Benefit that will reduce your basic rent to about £44 a week. Your savings are ignored because they are under £10,000 and so is your DLA. You should make a claim from your council.

Q AFTER I retired in April 2011 I was awarded full Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (HB/CTB). When I reached 65 in May 2012 I was advised to claim Savings Credit which I did and was allowed £12.74 a week. But at the same time I was told to pay £51.58 a month rent and £8 a month Council Tax.

 All I have coming in is £113.71 a week State Pension and £188.46 a month works pension. Is it right that I should find myself worse off after claiming Savings Credit?

Confused Pensioner (Plains Farm)

A WHEN someone reaches 65 they may become entitled to Savings Credit. For a single person this can be up to £18.54 a week depending upon their financial situation.

 The rates of HB/CTB are increased when someone reaches 65. This is so that any extra income a person has through Savings Credit will not reduce any HB/CTB they are already receiving.

 The reason this did not happen to you is because you were incorrectly given a full award. Before you reached 65 you could only have been due maximum HB/CTB if your income was under £142.70 a week.

 As yours was the equivalent of £157 a week you did not qualify for full remission but should have been paying at least £12 a week. What you are now being asked to pay in rent and Council Tax looks about right, but I do not suppose that is much consolation.

Q WE receive Savings Credit but do not qualify for Guarantee Pension Credit. Could our savings stop us getting help with our rent and Council Tax?

Mr and Mrs B (by Email)

A IF you have more than £16,000, yes.