Benefits Expert: Disability living allowance, carer payments and housing benefit

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Q. My son is 16 and a full-time student. He has received a letter telling us that he can no longer claim Disability Living Allowance and he should make a claim for Personal Independence Payment.

His health has not changed so why is he not entitled to disability living allowance anymore?

A. Disability living allowance is being phased out for claimants over 16-years-old and they are being assessed for personal independence payment instead; it is not a determination that your son’s health has improved.

With disability living allowance your son’s care needs were compared to a child of the same age, but without the relevant health condition.

If he applies for personal independence payment then he will be assessed as an adult against a list of activities including getting bathed and dressed, making meals and his ability to get around.

If he qualifies for personal independence payment you will continue to receive the increases in your child tax credit claim.

You should also be aware that the criteria for personal independence payments differ to the criteria for disability living allowance and you should not assume the benefit will continue after the claim has been decided.

You may find the payments increase, decrease, stay the same or could be removed.

If this happens you can request a Mandatory Reconsideration and this must be done within one month of the date of the decision.

Q. I am disabled and my wife is my carer. She has been looking for work or volunteer work and wanted to know if this would affect her carer’s allowance?

A. Carer’s allowance is subject to an earnings limit of £120 per week (this figure can change every tax year and is based on the earning limit on which you would pay National Insurance), so your wife would not be paid any carer’s allowance for weeks in which she earns over that amount. If you receive any means tested benefits as a couple then they are likely to be affected by her wages.

Volunteering would not prevent your wife from claiming carer’s allowance so long as she is still able to meet the requirement of providing 35 hours per week of care.

Q. I live in a rented property and I get housing benefit, but it doesn’t cover the full rent. I am struggling to pay the shortfall from my jobseeker’s allowance. Is there anything else that I can claim?

A. You could make an application for a ciscretionary housing payment (DHP) from your local authority.

The local authority would require information about your income and expenditure and would assess how much financial need you are in.

The awards that they can make are completely discretionary based on your circumstances. If you disagree with a decision on a DHP application you can ask the Local Authority to look at the decision again, but there is no legal appeals process.