N.B. Department for Work and Pensions, Social Security Scotland and local authority benefit departments should be notified immediately of changes in circumstances to prevent overpayments
If someone is acting on behalf of someone going in to care (i.e. social worker) and appropriate action is not taken to report a change within the required timescale, then the service user will be asked to repay the overpayment. Retrospective/late notification or action will result in overpayment and these cannot be written off as benefits will not accept ignorance as good cause.
The first thing that is considered is whether the move to care is temporary or permanent.
Permanent would mean not temporary or short term and usually the intention is that the person in care will remain in care and not return home.
What you need to do
Pension Credit is a low income/capital based benefit:
- Single people on Pension Credit should contact pension service to update change of address when going into permanent care.
- Couples on Pension Credit- the claim will be now be reassessed, couples are treated as separate claimants when care is permanent.
The person who was the main claimant before on the couple claim (the main claimant was the person who got the award letters) now needs to contact the Pension Service to update the change in circumstances.
If both individuals in a couple have low income/capital in their own names, they may both qualify for Pension Credit. The person who wasn’t the main claimant before would need to make a new claim in their own name. This can be done by phone or online.
Attendance Allowance is a health care needs based benefit.
In hospital – After a period of time (after 28 days or linked periods) these payments stop. So you need to report hospitalisation periods. If someone then returns home this should be notified to Attendance Allowance Unit as payments should re-start.
If you go in to care – When you are funded for this care by the local authority, then Attendance Allowance payments will cease after the first 28 days. You should contact Attendance Allowance Unit to let them know changes in circumstances. Rules are different for those self-funding or interim funding.
Or someone could claim Attendance Allowance for the first time to get entitlement in the first 28 days in a care home if they didn’t have this disability benefit previously.
Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Adult Disability Payment claimants
Adults in hospital age 18 and over- after a period of time (after 28 days or linked periods) these payments stop. So you need to report hospitalisation periods.
If someone then returns to their own home this should be notified to the benefit provider, as payments should re-start.
If you go in to care – contact Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Adult Disability Payment (depending of which of these you receive), to tell them.
Normally the Care or Daily Living elements cannot be paid after 28 days, if the local authority funds the care.
Mobility elements of these benefits are not usually affected when you are in care (even if it stopped during hospitalisation prior to care). So contact even if payment stopped whilst in hospital.
If you had a disability benefit prior to care, there may have been an amount held in other low income/means tested benefits when criteria were met (called Severe Disability Premium). When Attendance Allowance ends, or you are due only mobility elements on other disability benefits when in care, the amount of Pension Credit or Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction may change as this premium may stop.
Carers of someone who goes in to care- (may be a partner or another person) if that person has a carer benefit entitlement will end. Report changes to Carers Allowance Unit, even if just underlying entitlement is held. For Universal Credit, where the carer claimed a carer element report the change to Universal Credit.
There is an impact on other benefit entitlements held by the carer, such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction, Universal Credit, Income Support, as well as other benefits.
Care home costs
This will not normally be covered by housing related benefits e.g. Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, or residential accommodation for housing benefit.
Universal Credit housing costs
If the stay in care is temporary or for respite care you can continue to claim your housing costs for your home for six months as long as the absence from home doesn’t exceed/or isn’t expected to exceed 6 months.
If the stay is temporary or for respite care you can continue to claim against housing rental costs on housing benefit for up to 52 weeks where you intend to return to your home, it hasn’t been rented to another person, and your stay isn’t likely to exceed 52 weeks. Trial periods with a view to becoming permanent are still under review, when you intend to return home if the care arrangement doesn’t suit, housing benefit can be considered for up to 13 weeks when criteria are met. If the decision to stay in care is made, the 13 weeks can apply.
If you move to permanent care and have unavoidable liability for rent at your former home, housing benefit could be considered for a period up to 4 weeks. This could apply even after a 13-week trial period if notice needs to be served to terminate tenancy.
Council Tax Liability
You may be able to claim a discount or full exemption from Council Tax charges on a former home when some goes into care for a period of 6 weeks or more. What you can claim depends on information like if anyone remains resident in the former home e.g. When one member of a couple enters care and only one liable person remains in the home, a discount may apply. When a single person enters care and the former home has no other residents, an exemption may apply to the charge.
If you are on a Council Tax Reduction claim
Where a person included in the household of a Council Tax Reduction claim goes in to care, this should be reported to this local authority department, as it can alter entitlement.
It may be that when you/your partner enters care, your income/capital or other circumstances may change. If you weren’t entitled previously you may now be eligible for a benefit. E.g. A couple who previously didn’t qualify to get Pension Credit together, now with a separate person assessments in care could be eligible.
Social Work should confirm information regarding care home funding- Cumnock Area(01290 427720) or Kilmarnock Area(01563 554200)
Workers can contact EA Money for benefit advice – EA Money(0800 389 7750)