Friday, 25 April 2014

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Am I entitled to Income Support ? How much ?

Your capital

If you have more than £16,000 in capital, you cannot get Income Support.

Capital means anything that could provide you with a source of income. It includes savings, property and land (but not personal possessions or the home where you live).

Capital of more than £6,000 will affect how much Income Support you get. You will be treated as getting £1 a week in income for every £250 of capital (or part of £250) above the £6,000 limit. This is regardless of how much money you actually receive from your capital, if any.

If you or your partner live in a care home, you must not have more than £16,000 in capital. You will be assumed to have an income from any capital over £10,000. If you own property where you used to live or normally live, this may be included in your capital.

If you or your partner are in a residential care or nursing home, you must not have more than £16,000 in capital. You will be assumed to have an income from any capital over £10,000. If you own property where you used to live or normally live, this may be included in your capital.

If you live in a care home and are concerned about the treatment of your property for income support purposes, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB.

Your income and the amount you need to live on

Your income is the money you have coming in each week. This could be other benefits, earnings from part-time work, income from capital (see under Your capital, above) or any other money you have coming in. Your income will affect your Income Support though some income is disregarded. This means that various types of income are not taken into account. Other types of income are only partially disregarded so that only part of it affects your benefit.

Your weekly income is compared to a fixed weekly level which the Government considers is the amount you need to live on for Income Support purposes. It is known as the ‘applicable amount’ and it is less than most people need for their day-to-day living costs. The difference between the applicable amount and your income is the amount of Income Support payable. The applicable amount will vary for each person because it is made up of different elements which depend on your circumstances. The rates of the different elements are fixed each year and are usually increased every April.

You will only be entitled to Income Support if your income is less than your applicable amount. If you have no income, or all your income is disregarded, you will get Income Support at the level of your applicable amount. Otherwise, your Income Support level will be your applicable amount minus your income. This means that any extra income you have coming in each week, if it is taken into account for Income Support, will reduce the amount of your benefit.

The applicable amount includes a personal allowance, which is a basic amount for you and your partner if you have one, premiums which depend on your circumstances, and in some cases, housing costs for mortgage or home loan interest.

Personal allowance

Your personal allowance will depend on your age, whether you have a partner who lives with you, and whether you are a lone parent.

Premiums and your Income Support Entitlement

Premiums are added to your applicable amount if you are in certain circumstances where you are considered to have higher living costs. You may be entitled to a premium because, for example, your partner is aged 60 or over, you or your partner are disabled, or you are caring for a sick or disabled person.

Housing costs

You may be able to get help towards some of your housing costs included in your applicable amount. This could include help with mortgage interest. No help is available with paying the capital part of a mortgage or any other payments, for example, endowment premiums, and there are restrictions on the amount of interest which can be paid. You will usually have to wait a few weeks after you start getting Income Support before you can get any help with interest, unless your partner is aged 60 or over. You will usually have this part of Income Support paid directly to your mortgage lender.

You may also be able to get help towards some other housing costs, for example, ground rent for long leases and some service charges. However, in most circumstances, if you rent your home you cannot get any Income Support for housing costs and you should claim Housing Benefit instead.

If there are other adults living in your home apart from your partner, your landlord, or a joint owner, tenant or lodger, a deduction may be made from the housing costs which Income Support can cover. This might apply, for example, if you have an elderly relative or an adult son or daughter living with you. The amount of any deduction will depend on their income and circumstances.

The rules about housing costs and Income Support are very complicated. If you want advice about help with housing costs and Income Support, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email.