Who benefits?

Most private client practitioners will feel at ease talking their elderly and vulnerable clients through matters such as will-drafting, Lasting Power of Attorney making and the probate process. However, many feel that the topic of welfare benefits is outside their comfort zone and shy away from providing any advice on this area. At CLT, we have had a lot of feedback from our delegates saying that this is an area that they would like more training on. Clearly, our delegates are realising that clients are increasingly expecting a complete service from them and that even a basic understanding of what benefits may be available to their clients can set the adviser apart from their rivals. Additionally, a little knowledge about the benefits system may not just help your clients but those who care for them too, as they may also be entitled to state support.

The most well-known benefit for older people is of course the state retirement pension payable when a person reaches pension age. The pension age for both men and women is increasing over the next few years (and is in the process of becoming the same). It is worth keeping up to date with the changes as this is likely to increase again in the future. The state pension is calculated by reference to contributions made by the claimant (Category A) or their spouse (Category B). Pension credit is a means tested benefit that may also be of relevance to your clients of retirement age and some may also be entitled to housing benefit if they meet the qualifying criteria.

With old age unfortunately often comes ill-health but this may mean that further benefits such as attendance allowance, which is a non-contributory benefit, are payable. Attendance allowance is payable to those over 65 and is paid at two different rates, a lower rate and a higher rate, depending on the criteria which the claimant fulfils.

The Universal Credit benefit is also a new regime to get to grips with. This is a benefit which is set to replace a number of other benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance and working tax credit. The benefit is being introduced in stages across the country. The rules of the new regime are tougher than the existing regime.

For those in a caring role (caring for a disabled person receiving a qualifying benefit), carer’s allowance may be payable providing they fulfil the qualifying criteria i.e. that they are over 16, not in full time work or not in part time work earning more than £100 per week and that they spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person. Additionally, carers do have new rights to assessment and support under the new Care Act/Social Care and Well-Being (Wales) Act which they did not have previously.

For a more in-depth look at the topic of benefits, join Alan Robinson, our expert elderly client speaker, for a couple of informative webinars on Benefits for Elderly Clients:

http://www.clt.co.uk/webinar/Benefits-for-Elderly-Clients-Webinar/

and Law and Benefits for Carers:

http://www.clt.co.uk/webinar/Law-and-Benefits-for-Carers-Webinar/

This article was submitted to be published by Central Law Training (CLT) as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills & Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills & Probate.

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