A 52-year-old heavy drinker claimed more than £5,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.
Jacqueline Bramwell failed to tell the authorities when her husband got a job working away from home, Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard.
“She was claiming Employment Support Allowance for herself and her partner,” said Joanne Hesse, prosecuting.
“The claim was legitimate when it began in 2014, but it became dishonest when her partner took work in London.
“The period involved is August 2015 until March of last year, and the total over-payment was £5,561.83.
“There is no claim for compensation because the department will recover the money through the civil courts.”
Bramwell, of Milton Road, Hartlepool, admitted failing to notify a change of circumstances.
The court heard that she was of previous good character.
The court’s liaison probation officer said: “When I interviewed Mrs Bramwell her remorse appeared to be genuine, although she was more concerned about the impact of the offending on herself than the wider social impact.
“She said the claim was genuine to start with, but the couple were in financial difficulties, and concerned about losing their house.
“On her own account, she drinks far too much, party due to boredom when her partner is away, and partly from peer pressure from others who also drink heavily.
“Mrs Bramwell was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and feared she was going to die.
“This caused some mental health problems which meant she found it difficult to deal with day-to-day living.
“The prospect of going to prison led to suicidal thoughts.”
The court heard Bramwell’s partner is no longer working, and the couple have mortgage arrears of £4,000 which they are repaying at £400 a month.
Bramwell was sentenced to a community order of 12 months, including an alcohol treatment programme of six months, and 10 rehabilitation activity days.
She was ordered to pay £170 costs which will be deducted weekly from benefits.
Bench of the magistrates’ chairman Paul Harrison told Bramwell: “Taking into account your previous good character and guilty plea, we have decided to go along with the suggestion in the probation report.”