Benefits Expert: Is student loan classed as income?

This week, our expert answers a question about student finance and benefits.
This week, our expert answers a question about student finance and benefits.

Q. I am a full time student at University and I have two dependent children.

I have applied for Housing Benefit to help with my rent, but my claim was refused and when I have checked the letter I can see that they have taken my student loan into account when assessing my income.

Is this right, because it is money that I am going to have to pay back?

A. Both student loans and student grants are taken into account as income when assessing a Housing Benefit claim.

Although the loan income is money which you will have to pay back, it is money that you are expected to use to support yourself throughout the course, so it is treated as income in the same way.

There are certain disregards which can be deducted from the loan or grant income and certain types of income, such as special support grants, parent learning allowances and childcare payments are generally ignored.

Also, any amount that is paid for tuition fees is disregarded along with standard disregards for books and travel.

If you think that the income has been assessed incorrectly then you can dispute the decision by appealing in writing to the Local Authority.

You may want to get some help from a benefits adviser to see how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to (if any) to confirm whether an appeal is likely to be successful or not.

Q. I have been claiming Pension Credit for a few years alongside my Disability Living Allowance (high rate care).

My friend moved in with me three weeks ago and my Pension Credit has stopped.

I did not think that my Pension Credit was affected by having someone live with you unless they were living with you as a couple?

A. You are right that living together with someone as a couple would change your entitlement, however, it can also be affected if a friend moves lives with you in some circumstances.
 It may be that you had a Severe Disability Addition included in your Pension Credit award – this can only be paid if you claim Disability Living Allowance care at the middle or high rate (or Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment for daily living), if you do not have anyone being paid Carer’s Allowance to look after you and if you live alone or only with people who receive one of these disability benefits. If your friend is not claiming one of these disability benefits then you would no longer be entitled to the Severe Disability Addition. For some people this would cause a reduction in their Pension Credit, but for people who only receive a small amount it would cause the claim to stop altogether.
It would be worth considering whether or not your friend would qualify for a disability benefit – as you could both qualify for a Severe Disability Addition.