Benefits Expert: ‘Should we make the switch?’

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Q I HAD Income Support (IS) of £162 a week and Disability Living Allowance which included the high rate for care.

As my condition recently worsened, a relation claimed Carer’s Allowance (CA) for looking after me. However, my IS was reduced by over £54 a week.

Why have I lost out?

J (Grindon)

A YOUR IS appears to have included a Severe Disability Premium, currently £55.30 a week for a single person.

This goes to certain disabled people, who live alone with no one looking after them who gets CA.

If your relation actually receives CA, which is £55.55 a week, then you no longer meet all the conditions for the Severe Disability Premium and your IS will go down.

If your relation only has “underlying entitlement” to CA – meaning they met the conditions for it, but could not receive it because they already had another benefit – your Severe Disability Premium would not be affected.

Q MY husband, aged 61, has Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) of £91.40 a week plus £70 a week from a private pension.

I am 58 and bring home £134 a week for working 20 hours.

We have £38,000 outstanding on our mortgage and £3,000 savings. I believe that if we claimed Pension Credit, instead of ESA, we would get a full Council Tax Rebate.

Should we make the switch?

Mrs. D (by Email)

A SOME people would gain by changing, but it depends on individual circumstances.

Your husband has reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit (which is 60 years and six months), but you would be worse off overall if he claimed it.

This is despite being allowed an immediate mortgage allowance which you only get with ESA after a waiting period.

His Pension Credit would be about £42.22 a week which would include a mortgage interest allowance of about £26.52 a week.

You would also be entitled to a full rebate on your Council Tax, but this would not make up for the £49.18 a week drop in benefit.

If you were to claim Council Tax Benefit in your current circumstances you would be entitled to Council Tax Benefit that would reduce your Council Tax to about £683 a year.

Q MY partner is a full-time student and we live on her bursary plus Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits for our toddler.

Can we claim Housing Benefit?

Len (Sunderland)

A STUDENTS cannot usually claim Housing Benefit, but their non-student partner can.

Student couples can claim if they have a child.