BENEFITS EXPERT: What can we claim if my husband retires?

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My partner and I are both over 70 and have State Pensions totalling £294.94 a week. He is working full-time at the moment but would like to retire. If he did what could we claim by way of Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit?

You would not be eligible for Pension Credit but you would be entitled to Council Tax Benefit that would reduce your Council Tax to about £443 a year. The Housing Benefit you would be due would depend upon the amount of your rent you pay and to whom you pay it. It could be reduced to a minimum of £27.72 a week.

I am enquiring about my Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit. My State Pension is £206.33 a week and I have two weekly occupational pensions of £26.21 and £17.55. My wife has a State Pension of £74.70 a week. Our Council Tax is £755.94 a year after the support deduction of £419.98 from the full £1,175.92. My Council Rent is £86.67 and I get £39.55 Housing Benefit, leaving £47.12 to pay. Do you think these benefits are correct?

These benefits are based upon a calculation that includes person’s income and a needs allowance called an ‘applicable amount’. The ‘applicable amount’ for a couple of your age and in your situation is £252.30 a week. Your income is taken as £324.79 a week.

Your benefits have been calculated by firstly deducting your ‘applicable amount’ from your income. That gives you an ‘excess income’ of £72.49 a week. The Council Tax you have to pay after deduction of benefit is 20% of this figure (i.e. £14.49) and your net rent is 65% of it (i.e. £47.11) Most council rents also have the water charges added.

Accordingly the figures you are paying look to be about right.

My wife and I have just received our annual Council Tax assessment and Council Tax Benefit calculation for 2016/17. In fact we have received four such assessments and calculations, each slightly different! Can you advise us what we should be paying? Our income is made up of State Pensions, an annuity and an occupational pension. The total is £320.92 a week and we have no savings to speak of. The Council says our ‘applicable amount’ is £252.30 a week.

On this basis, your income exceeds your applicable amount by £66.53. 20% of this is £13.30, so this is your share of your weekly Council Tax. The balance you appear to be entitled to as Council Tax reduction appears to be around £4.68 a week.

I cannot understand the details of the Council’s calculations but I feel my figures are as accurate as I can ascertain from the information provided.