Benefit entitlements explained when a marriage breaks down

Q. I have recently separated from my wife, but due to my circumstances I still reside at home although I am looking for my own accommodation.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 08:24 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 11:28 am
Benefits advice.

I have recently graduated from university and have not worked or paid National Insurance whilst studying, this was for approximately three years.

I have two children, one receives DLA including the middle rate care component, the other child is getting PIP, and again this includes the care element.

My wife is currently claiming carer’s allowance for the child who gets DLA.

Am I entitled to any benefits in this situation in my own right, and can I be classed as a single person whilst I continue to reside in the matrimonial home?

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I do have some health problems but nothing severe enough to prevent me from job seeking.

A. As you have not paid National Insurance for the last three years, it is unlikely you will qualify for any contributions based benefits, however, provided no one is claiming Carer’s Allowance for the other child you could make a claim for this benefit.

Provided you care for the child for at least 35 hours or more a week, are not working and earning more than £120/week and are no longer in full-time education, then Carer’s Allowance can be claimed and paid.

The benefit is not means-tested nor contributions based and currently pays £64.60 per week.

Although you and your wife have separated, if you were to claim any means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit, if you live in a live service area or legacy benefits such as Income Support then the Department for Work and Pensions will still likely treat you as a couple in this situation even though you are estranged.

You could still make a claim as a single person, however it is likely to be refused and although the decision can be appealed it is likely that a tribunal will still class you as a couple as long as you continue to reside in the matrimonial home.

Once you are able to find your own accommodation you could then claim as a single person as you would be maintaining your own property and could then claim benefits such as Universal Credit (including help towards rent) or legacy benefits if you do not live in a Universal Credit Service area (such as Income Support and Housing Benefit).

You did not mention if you happen to receive any other benefits such as Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

I would advise in your situation to still report the change in your circumstances i.e. the separation and although this will not change the amounts of these benefits if they are being paid it is always advisable to disclose this to the benefits agency.

You should also make sure the same agencies are made aware that you are claiming Carer’s Allowance as this again may change the amount of other means tested benefits.