It may come as a surprise, but there are many millions going unclaimed in benefits each year by people who do not know their rights. One of the biggest issues for carers is often the financial implications of looking after a disabled person. In a recent survey, half of carers said they missed out on financial support because of a lack of information. For example, did you know that across the UK, the total value of unclaimed Carers Allowance is over £1 billion as over 1/4 million carers miss out? And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
At Carers Service we have an adviser, Jim Dickson, whose job is to help carers with benefit (and employment) advice. We provide free confidential benefits and employment advice and support sessions for carers who are registered with us. If you are a carer living in the Blackburn with Darwen council area and are not registered with Carers Service then please contact us.
We will look at your circumstances and find out if there is anything you are missing out on. We will help you with all the phone calls and paperwork.
Our regular sessions are every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Carers Centre in Blackburn. If you can’t get to our office we may be able to arrange to visit you at home. And if you have work or similar commitments that mean you can’t get to see us during office hours, we can arrange a meeting at a time that is convenient to you.
Since starting to provide this service in October 2015 the Carers Service has got over £1 million in extra annual income for carers and their families Case studies
Case Study One: One of our carers has a baby who has severe disabilities. Jim helped her to claim Disability Living Allowance for baby. The claim was refused and Jim asked for the decision to be looked at again. The claim was still refused so Jim made an appeal. At this stage the claim was looked at again and benefit awarded. Mum can now get carers Allowance as well so the family are £140 weekly better off.
Case Study Two: Mr B has had numerous problems with his family’s’ benefits and is trying to deal with this on top of a caring role looking after his daughter and mother. After numerous letters and phone calls child benefit has been awarded with £2,000 of arrears.
Benefits for Carers and cared for
There are many different benefits for carers and their cared for. Every person is unique and the best thing for carers is to get a one to one benefits check with Jim the service’s own adviser. The following list of the main benefits will give you an idea of what you might be missing out on
Carers Allowance (CA)
CA is a weekly benefit, worth £62.10, for people who regularly spend 35 hours a week caring for a severely disabled person. You do not have to live with or be related to the person you care for. You can get CA even if you are disabled yourself and also need care. CA is not means tested so it does not matter what savings you have or if you have a private pension or other income. If you get CA you also get national insurance credits that help you qualify for Retirement Pension.
Carer Premium is not a benefit but is extra money, worth up to £34.60 weekly, that is added to other benefits such as Pension Credit or Housing Benefit.
First of all, to get Carer Premium you have to claim Carers Allowance. If your claim is successful you will then usually be entitled to an increase in your other benefits such as Pension Credit
Getting carer premium can be quite complicated so it is often better to get advice.
Attendance Allowance (AA)
Attendance Allowance is a weekly benefit, worth £55.10 or £82.30, for people aged 65 or over who are disabled and need help with personal care or supervision to remain safe. You do not actually have to be getting any help. For example, you might be living alone. You can also get AA if you are a carer. You can even get AA if you are also getting carers Allowance. AA is not means tested so it does not matter what income or savings you already have.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
This benefit is being phased out for people of working age and no new claims are being accepted. However, for children aged under 16 new claims can still be made. Anyone already getting DLA born before 8 April 1948 can get an increase if their condition changes. DLA is not means tested so it does not matter what income or savings you already have. The amounts vary from £21.80-139.75 weekly depending on the extent of your difficulties with personal care and/or mobility.
Most people of working age, including anyone born after 8 April 1948 and who currently get DLA will be contacted by Department for Work and Pensions and get an invitation to claim the new benefit called Personal Independence Payment, see below.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP is a benefit for people who have a disability and need help taking part in daily living and/or have difficulties getting around. It replaces DLA for people who are aged 16 and over. PIP is not means tested so is not affected by any other savings or income that you have. It is paid at several rates between £21.80-139.75 weekly, depending on the extent of your disability.
Bereavement Benefits after the death of a partner
If your husband, wife or civil partner has died you may be able to claim bereavement benefits.
The benefits can help ease some of the financial worries you may face following the death of your partner. They are not means-tested and can be paid whether or not you are working.
Bereavement Payment is a tax-free lump sum of £2,000.
You can claim Bereavement Payment if:
- your civil partner, husband or wife paid National Insurance contributions
- you were under State Pension age when they died or your wife, husband or civil partner was not entitled to Category A State Pension when they died.
Bereavement Allowance is paid weekly for a year after the death of your partner.
You can claim Bereavement Allowance if:
- your husband, wife or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions
- you were under State Pension age when they died.
The amount of Bereavement Allowance you get depends on your age and your partner’s National Insurance contribution record, and it is taxable.
Widowed Parent’s Allowance
Widowed Parent’s Allowance is paid if you have dependent children and your partner has died.
You can claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance if:
- you’re under State Pension age
- your wife, husband or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions
- you’re receiving Child Benefit.
The amount you get depends on the National Insurance contributions paid by your partner. The standard rate is taxable.
For more details:
Support for bereaved families from 06th April 2017
A new benefit called Bereavement Support Payment replaces the current system of Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance from April this year.
Bereavement Support Payment is made up of:
A lump sum of £3,500 for people with children and £2,500 for those without children and a further 18 monthly instalments payable to the surviving spouse or civil partner of £350 for those with children and £100 for those without
The new benefit is for people who are bereaved on or after 6 April 2017. The new benefit is ignored for the purposes of claiming any means tested benefits such as Housing Benefit although it will stop at pension age even if all the installments haven’t been paid.
From 1st April 2017: new rules for bedroom tax and carers?
The bedroom tax limits housing benefit where people are said to have more bedrooms than they need.
From 1st April 2017 new rules mean an additional bedroom will be allowed if:
- a child or non-dependent adult requires overnight care from a non-resident carer(s)
- two members of a couple cannot share a bedroom for “transparent medical reasons”
If you are in one of the above situations you should write to Blackburn with Darwen Council. Ask them to amend your Housing Benefit decision as of 1st April 2017 to allow an additional bedroom for this reason. You should do this as soon as you can because if you delay you might lose money.
What counts as requiring overnight care from a non-resident carer(s)?
To count as requiring overnight care the person needs to be regularly getting overnight care from a carer who doesn’t live with them, and the carer needs to have a bedroom.
Also, the person must satisfy the local council that they reasonably need this care and meets one of the following conditions:
- they are getting Attendance Allowance, the middle or the higher rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Armed Forces Independent Payment (AFIP) or
- they have provided the local council with evidence to satisfy it that overnight care is needed
Being unable to share a bedroom for “transparent medical reasons”
For a couple to count as being unable to share a bedroom due to health reasons, the following conditions must be met:
- the member of the couple who has the health conditions must be getting the higher rate of Attendance Allowance, the middle or the higher rate of the care component of DLA, either rate of the daily living component of PIP or Armed Forces Independence Payment and
- the local council must be satisfied that the member of the couple who has the health conditions is, because of their disability, not reasonably able to share a bedroom with the other member of the couple
Two-child limit in universal credit and child tax credit
From April 2017 the child element in universal credit and the individual element in child tax credit to be payable to a maximum of two children.
This rule will apply where the third and subsequent child is born on or after 6th April 2017. Child benefit will continue to be paid as normal with no limits. There will be some exceptions, for example, for multiple births.
Existing claimants will continue to get their entitlement as before for as long as they are on benefit. If you have a break in your claim and have to make a new claim, your new claim will be dealt with under the new rules.
Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group
New claimants of Employment and Support Allowance who are placed in the Work-Related Activity Group will receive the same rate of benefit as those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance because the Work Related Activity component is being abolished. This does not affect people placed in the Support Group
Blue badge scheme and PIP
More and more people are moving from DLA to PIP.
There are new rules that apply to people who have been awarded PIP.
If you have been awarded 8 points or more in the “moving around” activity of PIP you can get a blue badge automatically (providing you meet the other rules as well). Unfortunately, this leaves out some people who have been awarded 12 points for other mobilising issues. For example, if you have been awarded points for the activity “planning and following journeys” you will get enhanced rate for mobilising but this does not count towards automatic entitlement to blue badge.
Be careful when using Google
A lot of us have got used to searching on google for DWP and other phone numbers but we do need to be careful because there are some scams around. Some of these are specifically to do with DWP benefits
For example, beware of a company website called www.govukbenefits.com
This website includes a phone number for people to ring to contact the UC helpline…..
This is a forwarding number and the company behind this charges 7p per minute ON TOP of normal call charges for the privilege of connecting to the official 0345 6000723 number.
Other companies doing this sort of thing, so be careful.
My advice is always to go to the Government website https://www.gov.uk/ And, remember, official websites rarely, if ever end their website address in .com
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
If you look after someone who gets DLA you might have heard about changes. DLA has ended for new claimant aged 16 or over. Existing DLA claimants who were born after 8 April 1948 and are 16 or over are being invited to claim the new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Anyone in this age group who asks for a review of their current award, for example, because their condition has got worse, will be invited to claim PIP.
If the person you look after is invited to claim PIP it is very important that they respond. Providing they apply for PIP their DLA will continue for as long as it takes to make a decision on their application for PIP.
We know this is something that is worrying for carers and the ir looked after and we will do our best to help with PIP applications so please feel free to get in touch.
Money Advice Service – information now available for PIP claimants
The Money Advice Service (MAS) offers budgeting support for people who may need it. It is now offering budgeting support specifically for PIP claimants. As part of the roll out of this service there is now a dedicated PIP page on the MAS website. The PIP page explains the:
- claimants options if your award of PIP is less than expected;
- dispute process;
- 28 day run on rules; and
- Motability transitional package.
- From May 2016 PIP claimants will be signposted to the MAS in your PIP decision letters
- The MAS website will include the ‘DLA is ending’ PIP campaign video which is featured on You Tube.
- Information about MAS will be included in the Motability ‘Lifestyle’ magazine; and on the PIP Campaign page on Gov.uk.
Pension Credit and Housing Benefit during an absence abroad
It is a basic condition of entitlement to Housing Benefit and Pension Credit that claimants are in Great Britain.
Housing Benefit has a general temporary absence rule meaning that it can continue for a maximum of 13 weeks, where the period of absence does not, or is not expected to last more than 13 weeks and the person intends to return. If the absence is expected to last more than 13 weeks, Housing Benefit stops immediately.
Pension Credit has a rule which is specific to absences outside of Great Britain. This allows entitlement to continue for absences of up to 13 weeks where the absence is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks.
A new policy, announced as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, is to restrict temporary absences from Great Britain in both benefits to four weeks. This is now law. If you are thinking of going abroad for more than 4 weeks and you get either Housing Benefit or Pension Credit please note this new rule.
Summary of successful outcomes
Support with benefits entitlement often includes sorting out the benefits for the cared for. For example, for a carer to be entitled to Carers Allowance, the cared for has to be getting a qualifying benefit such as Disability Living Allowance.
There are many websites that can help you with benefits information
Apply for Carers Allowance online
This is a quick and easy way to claim Carers Allowance and no more “lost in the post”.
Benefits and pension rates 2015/16
These rates apply to April 2016
Tax Credits Calculator
Find out if how much tax credits you could get
Money off your Council Tax
There are reductions you can get off of your council tax, including a reduction for carers