Benefits Expert: What will we be able to claim?

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Q AFTER ten years of retirement we have not claimed a penny in benefits and our savings have dwindled to £13,000.

We have weekly State Pensions of £124.52 and £58.50, plus other monthly pensions of £330 and £38. What can we claim? Mr and Mrs W. (High Barnes).

A COUNCIL Tax Benefit that would bring your bill down to around £461 a year.

Q I HAVE a works pension of £612.90 a month before tax. I also have a State Pension which includes £45.78 a week pre-1997 Additional State Pension.

But a ‘contracted out deduction’ of £27.03 a week is taken off this leaving me with £18.75. I can understand paying Income Tax, but why should I be penalised by losing £27.03 because of my works pension? Mrs. C. (Castletown).

A MOST pensioners who worked for an employer have an additional pension as well as their basic State Pension. This additional pension may come from the State (called SERPS up to 1997) or from their employer.

 Some people, like you, have an additional pension from both. £45.78 is what you would have earned if you had always been in SERPS.

 But you are not entitled to all of this from the State. This is because for a time you were paying into a works pension and ‘contracted out’ of SERPS, paying lower National Insurance. The £27.03 deduction is an adjustment to your SERPS entitlement taking account of your works pension.

Q I AM 63 and on long-term sick, soon to go on to half pay of £593 a month.

 My wife has State Pension of £69 a week, and our savings are less than £8,000.

 Our rent is £320 a month and Council Tax £900 a year. What will we be able to claim? Jim (Sunderland).

A YOU will be entitled to Housing Benefit that will reduce your basic rent to about £2 a week, and Council Tax Benefit that will reduce your Council Tax to about £0.60 a week.

Q AS I receive Attendance Allowance at the top rate, am I automatically entitled to a blue badge for disabled parking? H. (Seaham).

A ATTENDANCE Allowance does not automatically qualify you for the blue badge. People have automatic entitlement if they have Disability Living Allowance for mobility at the high rate.

 You must claim this before reaching 65. However, your local council can also allow you a blue badge if you have a ‘permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking’. You can find out more about the scheme from the Blue Badge Helpline on 020 7944 2914.