BENEFITS EXPERT: Pensions and Council Tax

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I have an occupational pension of £608 a month and a State Pension of £119 a week. My wife will be old enough to claim her State Pension in July.

She receives Employment and Support Allowance and has also been receiving Disability Living Allowance for 23 years. Would she be able to claim ‘pension credits’?

When your wife reaches State Pension age in July she will be able to claim the new Single Tier State Pension. This is because she reaches Pension Age after 6 April.

 The new pension will be based upon her own record of National Insurance, not yours. The maximum rate of the pension will be £155.65 a week and the person will need 35 years of National Insurance to qualify for it.

 When your wife reaches pension age she will no longer be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

 The State Pension she would then be entitled to would be based upon any full rate National Insurance she had paid whilst working plus any ‘credits’ she has been awarded, such as during periods when she has been on ESA.

 As I do not know for sure how many years your wife has on her National Insurance record, I do not know what her pension will be.  

 But she will need ten years to qualify for the smallest pension.

 The Pension Credit you refer to would only be relevant if the combined income of you and your wife is less than a particular level.

 You or your wife could only be eligible for Pension Credit if her State Pension is less than about £16 a week.

I have been receiving the State Second Pension since 2009 on top of my basic State Pension. Am I able to opt out of this for a cash lump sum because I do not feel it is keeping pace with inflation?

It is now possible for certain people to take a lump sum from their pension savings instead of receiving regular payments.

 The rules are complicated and the Government is advising people who are interested to telephone Pension Wise on 0800 138 3944.

 Rather than attempt a reply myself I would advise you contact them for an authoritative response.

My daughter will be coming home from uni soon and may take a master’s locally. As I am a full-time student too what would be our Council Tax situation?

While a person who is a full-time student is exempt from Council Tax, every Council has its own rules for its Council Tax reduction scheme for people of working age. I think the safest advice to give you is to contact your council.