Q. My husband passed away at the end of March and I have applied for a Bereavement Payment and Bereavement Allowance. I was told over the phone that I would not be able to claim because there were new rules in place now, but I thought that was from April only?
A. There are new benefit options for deaths on or after April 6th, however, you should be assessed under the old rules where Bereavement Allowance and Bereavement Payments were still available. You should complete an application if you haven’t already done so and you will have access to the appeals route if you are refused the benefit. For deaths from 6th April 2017 these payments have been replaced by a single Bereavement Support Payment which can be paid for one year and isn’t taken into account as income for other benefits and won’t be included in benefit cap calculations.
Q. I have been claiming Employment and Support Allowance for 3 years in the Support Group and I have started wondering about going back to work. I know my health is not as good as it used to be and I don’t know how well I would cope with being back at work, but I think I need to try. Is there anything that I can claim when I return to work?
A. The DWP have a scheme of Permitted Work where you can work less than 16 hours per week and earn up to £115.50 per week without the wages affecting your benefit entitlement. You are now able to do this for an unlimited payment as the previous time limit has now been removed, but you must have the permitted work approved by the DWP. In practice this means that you can attempt going back to work without your benefit income being affected and if you find that you are not able to cope with working then you can end the employment and continue with your benefit claims. If you find that you are coping well with the return to work then you could consider increasing your hours to 16+, but you would need to end the Employment and Support Allowance claim. You are likely to qualify for Working Tax Credit with a disability element depending on your household income.
Q. I was registered as severely sight impaired last month and I was told to ask about Blind Person’s Allowance, but I am struggling to find out anything about this.
A. Blind Person’s Allowance is a tax allowance for people who are registered as blind or severely sight impaired. Generally you have a personal allowance of £11,500 which means that you do not pay tax on the first £11,500 of your earnings. If you qualify for Blind Person’s Allowance then you would have an additional £2,320 added to your personal allowance; this means that you can earn £13,820 before you pay tax.
Blind Person’s Allowance is transferable to a spouse if you would not benefit from the full amount yourself. To make an application you need to speak to HMRC on 0300 200 3301.