BENEFIT ENTITLEMENTS

There are so many benefits available to people and often these entitlements go unclaimed. The reason for this is that people just simply aren’t aware of how the system works.

Adult Social Care  

The Adult Social Care Service provides and arranges a wide range of social care services for people aged 18 and over who are disabled or frail. It enables them to live as independently as possible and also provides assistance to those who care for others. The services offered are provided following an Assessment of Needs provided you meet certain eligibility criteria.

 

Attendance Allowance

 
This is a tax free benefit aimed at physically or mentally disabled people aged 65 and over who need assistance with personal care.
 
If you have a physical disability such as blindness or a mental disability (including learning difficulties), or if your disability is severe enough for you to need help in caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own or someone else’s safety, you may be eligible.
 
Attendance Allowance is usually payable, regardless of any savings or income you may have.
 
For those who have a terminal illness and are not expected to live longer than a further six months, there is a special rule whereby these people will receive the higher rate of Attendance Allowance straight away.
 
It is not always necessary to undergo a medical examination in order to claim this benefit although it may be required in order to assess how your condition affects you.
 
There are two applicable rates of Attendance Allowance.  
The Lower Rate is £53 per week and the
Higher Rate is £79.15 per week.
 
 The Rates are correct as at February 2014.
 
All claims are paid directly into a bank account and if you are eligible for Attendance Allowance, you may also be eligible for an increase in any other benefits/financial support you receive.
 
Changes in your personal circumstances can affect the rate of Attendance Allowance you receive or whether you get it at all.

Bereavement Allowance

Bereavement Allowance is a taxable weekly benefit which you may be able to claim after you have been widowed.  It is paid for a total of up to 52 weeks from the date your spouse or civil partner has died.
 
In order to be eligible to claim you must be a widow, widower or surviving partner of a civil partnership aged 45 or over when they died.  You must not be bringing up children, be under the State Pension age and your deceased partner must have been paying National Insurance Contributions or have died as a result of an industrial accident or disease.  You cannot claim if you were divorced from your spouse at the time of death, if your civil partnership was dissolved at the time of death, you are living with another person as if you are married or in a civil partnership or if you are in prison.
 
In order to complete the claim, you must provide your deceased partner’s National Insurance number and details of their recent employment history.  This will assist in working out how much, if any, Bereavement Allowance you are entitled to.
 
If you were over the State Pension age when your partner died, you may receive extra State Pension and this will be based on the National Insurance contributions paid by your late spouse or civil partner.
 
If you were widowed below the State Pension age and have a dependent child, you can claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance although you cannot claim this at the same time as Bereavement Allowance.
 
Your age at your partner or civil partner’s death Maximum weekly rate (as at May 2012)
45 years old £31.79
46 years old £39.20
47 years old £46.62
48 years old £54.03
49 years old £61.45
50 years old £68.87
51 years old £76.28
52 years old £83.70
53 years old £91.12
54 years old £98.53
55 years old to State Pension Age £105.95
 
The figures quoted above may change, dependent upon your deceased partner’s National Insurance contributions .
 
If you are eligible for Bereavement Allowance, any benefits such as Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit may change.
 
You will no longer qualify for Bereavement Allowance if you remarry or live with somebody as if you are married to them or in a civil partnership with them.  In this event, you must inform the local office which handles your claim.

Bereavement Payment

you may be able to claim a one-off tax free lump sum payment of £2000 if your spouse of civil partner has died.   So long as your partner paid their National Insurance contributions or their death was caused by their job and either you was under the State Pension age when they died or your partner was not entitled to Category A State Retirement Benefit when they died, you may be eligible.  
 
In order to complete the claim, you must provide your deceased partner’s National Insurance number and details of their recent employment history.  This will assist in working out if you are entitled to a Bereavement Payment.
 
You would not be eligible however if you were divorced from your spouse at the time of death, if your civil partnership was dissolved at the time of death, you are living with another person as if you are married or in a civil partnership or if you are in prison.
 
The Bereavement Payment does not normally affect your entitlement to other benefits however, your savings and Bereavement Payment may reduce the amount of means-tested benefits you receive such as Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit and Tax Credit or Employment and Support Allowance.
 
Claims for Bereavement Payment can only be backdated three months from when they are received and the time limit for claiming has been extended to 12 months.

Budgeting Loans

If you are on a low income and need help with important costs, you may be eligible for a repayable interest-free Budgeting Loan.
 
If either you or your partner has been claiming or receiving Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit, you may be eligible.  Claims will be considered to assist with paying for furniture or household equipment, clothing or footwear, advance rent or removal expenses for a new home, travelling expenses, things to help you look for work, improvements, maintenance or securing your home and repaying hire purchase or other debts you took out in order to pay for any of the above.
 
The amount you can request will depend on whether you are single, a couple or have children.  Other matters to consider will be whether you already owe money to the Social Fund for previous loans, whether you are able to repay the loan and whether you have any savings over £1000 (or £2000 if you or your partner are over 60).
 
The total amount which can be borrowed from the Social Fund is £1500.
 
At the time your loan is agreed, repayments will be calculated and these are usually deducted from your benefits.   It is usual for Budgeting Loans to be repaid in full within 104 weeks.
 
As a Budgeting Loan is not classed as income, it will not affect your eligibility for other benefits.

Carer’s Allowance  

This is a benefit which provides assistance to those who help look after somebody who is disabled.  You do not need to be related to nor live with the person, to be eligible.
 
If you are aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours per week caring for a person, you may be able to claim.
 
The person being cared for should be claiming either Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance (at the middle or highest rate for personal care), Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension.
 
However, you cannot claim if you are in full-time education with 21 hours or more per week of supervised study, or undertaking a course described as full-time by a college or establishment providing it or if you earn more than £100 per week (after deductions).
 
The weekly rate is currently £58.45 although it is reduced in accordance with other benefits you receive and if you receive certain other benefits of £58.45 or more in addition, you cannot claim Carer’s Allowance.
 
Receiving Carer’s Allowance can affect you or the person you care for in terms of other benefits, allowances, pensions and entitlements. 
 
Should your situation change, and the situation of the person you care for, your eligibility could change.
 
Under certain circumstances it is still possible to claim Carer’s Allowance even if you move to another country in the European Economic Area or Switzerland.  

Child Benefit

This is a tax free payment which you can claim for your child.  It is usually paid every four weeks and there are separate rates payable for each child.  You can claim this benefit irrespective of your income or savings.
 
If you have responsibility for a child, you can normally get Child Benefit for them.  This means that you don’t have to be the parent of the child.  So long as you pay towards the upkeep of the child (and what you pay is at least the same as the amount you are claiming) and the person your child lives with is not claiming for them, you would be eligible.
 
Payments of Child Benefit usually cease when the child reaches 16 unless they are in education or training that counts for Child Benefit.  Children studying for a degree for example would not be able to be claimed for and benefit would stop altogether for a child once they reach the age of 20.
 
There are two separate rates for Child Benefit calculations.  Your eldest (or only) child would receive £20.30 and subsequent children would receive £13.40 per week.
 
Payments are usually made directly into your bank account every four weeks.  However, if you are on Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit or if you are a single parent, you can request to have it paid weekly.
 
You may also be able to apply for Child Benefit if you are adopting or fostering a child and you live in the UK, although if you receive payments towards the cost of the child’s accommodation or basic maintenance from your local authority, you won’t usually be able to claim it.
 
Even if your child is ill or disabled and in hospital or residential care either in the UK or abroad, you can still claim Child Benefit for a period of up to 12 weeks.  In order to claim for a longer period, you or your partner need to spend money on them regularly to qualify.  Examples would be spending money to travel to visit them, giving them pocket money or buying them clothing, sweets, toys or books.
 
If your child goes to live with someone else you may be able to claim for a period of up to eight weeks.  If you continue to contribute towards your child’s upkeep after this time, you may be able to claim for a longer period.

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credits are payments from the Government and are usually paid if you have responsibility for at least one child or young person.  
 
The payments depend upon how much you earn.  For instance, the lower the salary, the more Child Tax Credit you may be able to claim.  Other factors which are taken into account are how many children you have living with you, if you are living with someone as a couple, if you are in work (and how many hours you work), if you pay for childcare fees and if either you or any child living with you, has a disability.
 
You are able to claim up until 31st August after the child’s 16th birthday or possibly until they are 20 so long as they are in education or training which accounts for Child Tax Credit.
 
You do not also need to be the child’s biological parent to claim.  So long as you have responsibility for that child, for instance, they live with you most of the time, the child keeps their toys, clothes etc. at your home and you pay for their meals and give them pocket money.
 
Even adoptive parents and foster parents may be able to claim Child Tax Credit so long as the parents are not receiving any money from the local authority or the Health and Social Services Board.
 
If the child’s parents live separately, only one parent can claim Child Tax Benefit.  If parents cannot come to a decision as to whom should receive the benefit, the Tax Credit Benefit Office will decide on your behalf, taking into account the number of days the child stays with each respective parent etc.
 
Any change in circumstances should be reported to the Child Tax Benefit Office as soon as possible.

Child Trust Fund  

The Child Trust Fund is a long term, tax free savings account for children born between 1st  September 2002 and 2nd January 2011.
 
For each eligible child, H M Revenue & Customs will usually send you a voucher and the amount of this is usually between £50 and £250, depending on when your child was  born and became eligible for an account.
 
The voucher is then used to open an account with an approved Child Trust Fund provider.  Whilst the money in the Child Trust Fund account belongs to the child, it cannot be taken out until they are 18 years of age.  From 1st November 2011, family and friends are able to make contributions to the account, not exceeding £3,600 in any year.
 
If you are on a low income, it may be possible to get extra revenue paid into the account and the money to which your child is entitled will not affect any benefits or credits you receive.
 
The person who opens the account on behalf of the child is known as the “registered contact” and they will remain so until the child reaches the age of 16 and will then take over as the registered contact and maintain the account.
 
The registered contact is responsible for keeping any associated paperwork, updating any important changes such as address and is the only one able to change the account or provider.

Cold Weather Payment  

For those people in receipt of certain benefits, in spells of extremely cold weather, they may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment.
 
The Cold Weather Payment is to assist in the increase in associated heating costs during periods of extreme harsh weather.
 
A  period of extreme cold weather is either when it is recorded as an average of zero degrees Celsius over a period of seven consecutive days or when it is forecast to be an average of zero degrees Celsius over a period of seven consecutive days.
 
The Cold Weather Payment Scheme operates between 1st November til 31st March.
 
A network of weather stations monitors the temperature information to see if there has been a period of very cold weather in any particular postcode area.  When there is, a Cold Weather Payment will be made to those eligible.
 
When there has been a period of very cold weather during the qualifying period, those persons claiming Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance will be eligible to claim.
 
Those in receipt of Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance are also able to claim if they have a disability or pensioner premium included in their benefit, a child who is disabled, Child Tax Credit which includes a disability or severe disability element or a child under the age of five living with them.
 
You will be paid £25 for each seven days period within the qualifying dates specified above and this amount will usually be paid into the same account into which you receive your benefit payments.  Payments are usually received 14 days after the seven day period and will not affect your entitlement to any other benefits.

Community Care Grant

you may be able to claim this if you need financial assistance to help you live independently in the community or to ease exceptional pressure on you and your family.  You do not need to repay it.
 
You can apply for a Community Care Grant if you are claiming Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit.  You can also apply if you anticipate claiming any of the above within the next six week period if you are moving out of care.
 
To be eligible you must be moving out of residential or institutional care to live independently, be moving to a new home which will be more suitable for you following an unsettled period in your life and are being resettled by an organization such as a local council or a voluntary organization, need help to stay in your current home and not go into residential care or hospital, need help because you and your family face exceptional pressure due to family breakdown or because one of you has a long-term illness, you look after somebody who is ill or disabled or who has been released from custody or temporary licence or you need help with visiting somebody who is ill or to attend a relative’s funeral.
 
The amount you receive depends upon your individual circumstances and if you and your partner are under 60 and have savings over £500 the amount you receive may be reduced.  If you and your partner are over 60 and have savings of £1000 or more, again, the amount you receive may be reduced.
 
Any claim for a Community Care Grant will not affect your current benefits.
 
You cannot claim the Grant for any event occurring outside of the UK, if it is needed for education or training purposes, any distinctive school uniform, sports clothing or equipment, travelling expenses to and from school, school meals, expenses in connection with court or legal proceedings, removal charges expenses or storage charges where the local authority can help, domestic help or respite care, repairs to local authority or housing association homes, medical, surgical, optical, aural or dental items or services, debts to government departments, including tax arrears, investments, Council Tax, most other housing costs, most fuel costs, expenses of less than £30 save for travelling or daily living expenses, work related expenses, cost of buying, renting or installing telephone equipment and call charges and daily living expenses such as food and groceries, unless you are caring for a prisoner or young offender on release or temporary licence.

Constant Attendance Allowance  

if you have a disability which requires daily care and attention and you already claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or War Disablement Pension, you can claim for Constant Attendance Allowance.
 
You be eligible you must need daily care and attention, for example, home nursing or home meals and be 100% disabled (according to a medical examination).
 
There are four rates when judging the amount you can claim, depending upon the severity of your disability and the amount of care you need.
 
The exceptional rate pays £126.60 per week, the intermediate rate pays £94.95 per week, the normal maximum rate pays £63.30 per week and the part-time rate pays £31.65 per week.
 
All benefits are paid into your account and you should notify the Benefits Office if you situation changes.
 

Disclaimer

Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the legal information contained on “consumeruk” is accurate, it does not constitute legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act on it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. Neither the Proprietor nor Dean Dunham can assume responsibility and do not accept liability for any damage or loss which may arise as a result of your reliance upon it.

 

 

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