BENEFITS AND FUNDING
As with most matters relating to older people,
access to benefits and funding is not easy.
There is a lot of money sloshing around in the shape of benefits.
Funding is confusing and perversely complicated to claim.
Much is never claimed. According to the Government’s figures, more than £3.5 billion a year in benefits is not claimed by older people.
THREE MAIN SOURCES OF FUNDING
National Government – administers the main personal benefits and pensions;
Local Government – administers care funding, Council Tax rebates and living grants for adapting homes;
The National Health Service – can pay all or some of the cost of care, in very restrictive circumstances.
Some funding is means-tested – but not all.
There are different qualification thresholds as well.
Home ownership is sometimes taken into account, but not always.
It was all set to be reviewed in 2017 in a Government Green Paper on 'social care'. We are still waiting.
BEFORE APPLYING FOR BENEFITS
Older people can apply for one or all of a confusing range of benefits. These are not always dependent on ability to pay, their financial resources or even serious disability. Some, such as Attendance Allowance, are available without any means testing and without the need for an individual to have a serious disability or illness. Others, such as Council Tax rebate, are based on how many people are living in a property - and can also take into account if someone has mental health problems. So, for instance, a married couple would qualify for a hefty 25 per cent reduction in Council Tax if one of them has been diagnosed with dementia. But you have to claim it.
IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR AN OLDER PERSON, WHEN APPLYING FOR ANY BENEFITS,
NOT TO MAKE LIGHT OF THEIR SITUATION OR THEIR INFIRMITY.
IF THEY DO, THEY WILL NOT GET WHATEVER BENEFITS THEY ARE APPLYING FOR;
IF THEY SAY THEY CAN MANAGE, THEY WILL NOT GET THE HELP THEY NEED;
IF THEY SAY THEY ARE FINE, THEY WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY HELP;
AGE UK OR YOUR LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES WILL HELP WITH FORMS.
In addition to the State Pension, a number of benefits are payable to older people. Many are under-claimed.
Top of the list is:
Attendance Allowance – As mentioned above, this is a non-means tested benefit to help older, sick and vulnerable recipients buy help they may need. It is payable at two weekly rates: a lower rate of £58.70 and a higher rate of £87.65. It is not taxable and you do not have to account for how it is spent. TAKE GREAT CARE filling in the forms.
Carers Allowance – non-means tested. This will pay £66.15 a week, if you are a low earner (no account is taken of house ownership), not in education but provide 35 hours a week, or more, of care to someone who receives Attendance Allowance or another disability benefit. This is taxable, if you have other income;
Housing Benefit – payable to those on low incomes who are renting and can be increased if they receive another benefit, such as Attendance Allowance;
Winter Fuel Payments – non-means tested - currently up to £300 a year to qualifying people of pension age;
Pension Credit – means tested – this is a gateway benefit. If you qualify for this, if your income is sufficiently low, then you will also qualify for a range of other help and benefits – including Council Tax Benefit. Pension Credit tops up your weekly income to £167.25 for a single person or to £255.25 for couples. They assume a notional amount of interest from any savings.
IMPORTANT – certain women, in particular, become eligible to receive this if their husband goes into residential home and his pensions are taken to cover care costs, leaving the wife with a much lower weekly income. This can, of course, also apply to men.
Politicians are talking about changing the funding arrangement for care. Some say all care should be free, some that there should be a cap on care costs, some that people should have to pay for their own care.
There is Local Authority help with care costs, if someone has a very low income and practically no savings. Many, if not most, people do not qualify for Local Authority assistance with care costs. They have too much in savings or they are not considered to have sufficient needs.
It all depends where you live. Councils have discretion to decide who gets funding – depending on needs. They are under pressure financially and would much rather someone else paid– you, the national Government, the NHS.
If you have very few resources and social workers assess you meet your Local Authority’s needs threshold, you may get funding. You will need a very high level of need, even compared to a few years ago. You can appeal against any decision on the basis of need.
Local Authorities also provide grants and help with adaptations to homes, to allow older people to live in safety in their own properties. Some will fund walk-in showers for those in need but the thresholds for qualifying for any such help are low and they will often not admit such assistance is available.
They also pay out Council Tax Allowance, which is payable for a person living alone - or living with someone with dementia or a long-term serious or terminal condition
National Health Service
Funding from the NHS is available for care. See