There are a number of state benefits that can be claimed – some are means tested, and others are available to people who meet a specific eligibility condition.
If a benefit is ‘means tested’, it means that they assess your assets and income and if you are below certain prescribed levels, then you are eligible to claim.
The main two means tested benefits are Pension Credit and Savings Credit. Pension Credit is the overall name of the benefit and there are 2 parts to it:
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of 2 parts – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it’s below £151.20 (for single people) or £230.85 (for couples).
Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, eg a pension..
There are also a number of non-means tested benefits that may be available, the main one of which is the State Pension, which is claimed by most people. However, Attendance Allowance, which offers a payment of £55.10pw or £82.30pw depending on the mobility and health of an individual is sometimes missed. There are also the following:
- Council Tax Benefit : Money off your council tax if you are on a low income or receive other benefits.
- Help with health costs: everyone over 60 is entitled to free prescriptions and eye tests. If your relative is in receipt of certain benefits, such as the guarantee credit part of pension credit, they might also be entitled to free dental treatment, glasses and the cost of travel to hospital. Help with travel: bus passes or blue badges, for example. Most towns also have their own dial-a-ride scheme for people who find it difficult to get out and about on public transport.
- War widow(er) pension: you might be entitled to this if your partner died while serving in the armed forces.
- Winter fuel payment: for people born before 5 January 1953 (2015-16) -an annual payment may be available to help with fuel costs. People in receipt of a state pension or other relevant benefits will receive the payment automatically. Others who are eligible will need to apply.
A Carers Allowance may also be available.
You may be eligible if you meet all the following conditions and do not claim other benefits eg full state pension:
- You look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit eg attendance allowance.
- You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week.
- You are aged 16 or over.
- You are not in full-time education.
- you earn no more than £110 a week (after taxes, care costs while you are at work and 50% of what you pay into your pension).
- You satisfy UK presence and residence conditions
- This could provide an additional £62.10pw
Specific Care State Benefits
There is also specific state help with funding care needs in some cases.
NHS Funding for Care (Continuing Healthcare) is free care outside of hospital that is arranged and funded by the NHS. It is only available for people having a “primary health need” and who have a complex medical condition and substantial and ongoing care needs. It is not means tested.
NHS continuing healthcare can be provided in any setting, including a care home, hospice or the home of the person you look after. If someone in a care home gets NHS continuing healthcare, it will cover their care home fees, including the cost of accommodation, personal care and healthcare costs. If NHS continuing healthcare is provided in the home of the person you look after, it will cover personal care and healthcare costs.
To see if you are eligible, you will have to ask for a Continuing Care Assessment from your health provider. Even if you are not eligible, you may be entitled to an NHS Nursing Care benefit of £112pw to help pay for your nursing care.
Social Services, however, will only provide long term care funding for those who pass a means test. Those with combined assets and income (including any social security benefits entitled to – whether being claimed or not) exceeding £23,250pa (Upper Threshold) have to pay for their own long term care. The Local Authority undertake a Financial Assessment to ascertain whether you will be eligible for funding.
Only those currently below £14,250 (Lower Threshold) qualify for the maximum local social services payment, often known as the standard rate or contract rate. This rate varies from one local authority to another. This may not even be sufficient to pay for some local authority run homes and top-ups may be required. Even where you do qualify for the maximum local authority long term care funding, they will take all your income, bar your Personal Expenses Allowance (currently £24.90 per week), away from you as a contribution towards the funding.
Those whose capital falls in between the upper and lower capital thresholds will have the value of any capital exceeding the £14,250 theoretically converted into “income” at a rate of every £250 worth of capital exceeding the lower limit, = £1 per week “income”. This is then added to any actual income received or you would be eligible for, if you claimed it, e.g. benefits. The total is then compared to the actual cost of long term care. If your combined weekly income figure exceeds the cost of care, once again you would need to pay for your own care until your capital reduced to such a level as the “income” doesn’t meet the cost of care. If the combined income, however, falls short of the required long term care costs, the local authority would fund only the difference.
State Benefits Advice is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
For further details of what assets and income are taken into account in these assessments, or for more information, please contact us on 01403 888490 or email us at email@example.com.