Benefits Expert: ‘Will my sick pay affect it?’

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Q I HAVE been off work for six months and my employer has given me a form to claim benefit of £71 a week from the Jobcentre.

However, I am still receiving half pay from work. Should I not be on Incapacity Benefit and will my sick pay affect it?

Anon (by Email).

A MOST people who work for an employer are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from work.

This is £85.85 a week, although an employer may pay more than this depending upon the rules of their own sick pay scheme.

SSP is payable for a maximum of 28 weeks, but the employer may pay company sick pay for longer if the rules of the scheme permit this.

When SSP ends after 28 weeks the employee can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if they are still unfit for work. An employer will issue the employee with form SSP1 to support their ESA claim.

People no longer can claim Incapacity Benefit, although some people who went sick before October 2008 still receive it.

ESA may be based upon a person’s recent National Insurance Contributions, in which case they will receive Contributory ESA. Some people receive ESA based upon their income and this is called Income-related ESA.

If a person qualifies for contributory ESA, this will not be affected by most other sources of income. For example, if they receive employer’s sick pay this will not affect Contributory ESA.

Employer’s sick pay will, however, affect Income-related ESA as will most other sources of income. Contributory ESA is paid at the starting rate of £71 a week and this appears to be what you are receiving.

It will not be affected by the sick pay you receive from your employer. Contributory ESA is only payable for a year to certain people, after which time they can only qualify for Income-related ESA which depends upon their personal financial circumstances.

The Department for Work and Pensions will notify you if these restrictions apply.

Q I HAVE often heard about Savings Credit, but have never really understood it. Can you explain?

Confused Pensioner (Sunderland).

A SAVINGS Credit is intended to give certain people who have reached 65 an income above the level of Guarantee Pension Credit, if they have made some provision for their retirement.

To be eligible you must have an income above a certain level. That level for currently £111.80 or £178.35 a week for couples. The maximum Savings Credit is £18.54 or £23.73 a week for couples.

You do not have to make a separate claim for Savings Credit. It will be assessed as part of your Pension Credit entitlement.