Benefits Expert: ‘You might be eligible for Pension Credit’

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Q MY husband, aged 62, has been told his Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will finish on April 30.

His ESA has been contribution-based only as our savings are too high for him to get Income-related ESA.

Can he get any other sickness benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)?

He has been phoning Jobcentre Plus for advice, but their lines are constantly busy. I am 65 with a State Pension and small works pension.

Mrs D. (by Email)

A YOUR husband has lost his benefit because of a change in the ESA rules for people in the ‘work related activity group’.

From April 30, such people who have been on ESA for a year will only continue getting it they have a low income.

He might be accepted for JSA based on his National Insurance Contributions, but only if he is available for work and actively seeking it.

Alternatively, you might be eligible for Pension Credit as you have reached the qualifying age and the savings rules are more generous than for ESA.

Q HOW would it affect my benefits if I were to move from my home, for which I have paid the mortgage, into a council flat?

Would I have to pay rent and Council Tax? I do not pay Council Tax at present. I am 82 and receive High Rate Attendance Allowance.

Mrs. M (Seaham)

A THE value of a property that you own, but do not live in is usually treated as capital, just like money in the bank.

That would put your capital above the level where you would be eligible for help with rent and Council Tax.

However, it might be a while before the value of your former home is taken into account. The reason you are not paying Council Tax is probably because you receive Guarantee Pension Credit.

In this event, an increase in your capital will not affect your Pension Credit or Council Tax until sometime in the future.

People on Pension Credit aged 65 or more have an “assessed income period” (usually five years) during which changes do not affect their benefits.

So you could get Pension Credit, Council Tax Benefit plus rent help for the council flat, until the end of that period, whenever that may be.

Q I AM a pensioner, born in March 1950, and receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Must I be tested for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

Worried Pensioner

A YES. People on DLA who will be aged 16-64 when PIP is introduced in April 2013 will have to take the test. As you will only be 63 then, that includes you.