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So confusing!

RainbowEyes Member Posts: 17 Connected

I’m very confused and really need some advice. Me and my girlfriend would love to move in together but we think it will affect us financially so we won’t be able to do it. Here are the vital details:

I’m on PIP (higher rates) and ESA (Work related activity group) but I’m thinking that at some point my mobility will go down to basic rate. At the moment I have £178.80 each week, which eventually may be reduced to £156.80. I don’t think it’s important but I will tell you anyway, I have autism, mental health problems, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and I’m recovering from anorexia. I don’t receive any other benefit, such as housing benefit.

My girlfriend is a part-time student (7 hours a week) and works part-time at 16 hours 30 minutes a week and earns £118 per week.

If we move in together will my benefit be reduced, if so, by how much? Would we be able to claim housing benefit?

My girlfriend is struggling with her course/work though as she has a significant mental health problem, diabetes, PCOS and women’s issues. If she were to claim PIP and ESA would we be able to get housing benefit, and how would her claim affect my already up and running claim?

We love each other very much but have been hitting our heads against a brick wall trying to get answers to our complicated situation.

If she manages to continue work/study but claimed PIP, would she be able to claim working tax credits- disability, and would this affect my benefits too?

I think the biggest issue is being able to pool our resources to cover rent, bills, food etc. We worked out we’d need £220 per week to cover everything, without housing benefit, but if they slashed my benefits because of her income and we weren’t entitled to housing benefit I don’t think we could cover this. Could you please help? I would really appreciate it!



  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,798 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @RainbowEyes, it sounds like there are a lot of things you and your partner will need to consider and that you're preparing well by thinking in advance. Have you tried the online benefits calculator? If you add in your details as if you had already moved in with your partner, it might give an indication of how your current benefits could be affected? 
  • RainbowEyes
    RainbowEyes Member Posts: 17 Connected
    It says that it won't be accurate for students. I did it anyway but it confused me a lot =/ I think I'll have a reduction in my ESA, but I'm not sure if this was accurate. It seemed to reduce by around £40. I think my biggest concern is housing benefit. It's all so confusing! I really need someone to tell me what'll happen but it's so complicated!
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 215 Listener
    @RainbowEyes Hi does your partner claim carers allowance for you ? 
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    Why do you think your mobility will go down?
  • RainbowEyes
    RainbowEyes Member Posts: 17 Connected
    Mike, I think they may reduce my mobility if I manage to beat anorexia. I know I'll still have osteoporosis and fibromyalgia, which significantly affects what/how much I can I can do, but I think (and hope) the dizziness and energy will be improve, meaning I'll hopefully be able to do a  bit more. I'm working so hard to gain weight, I've already gained a stone =D 
  • RainbowEyes
    RainbowEyes Member Posts: 17 Connected
    Budgie, no, I live with my parents and my girlfriend lives with her Mum, so it's my Mum that really cares for me, like comes to my appointment, helps me plan things, helps me practically with physical things, though she's not claiming anything. 
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 215 Listener
    If your partner did claim she will be allowed to stay with you has your carer/ partener..but I think she earns 2 pound over the the quallifing amount .
  • RainbowEyes
    RainbowEyes Member Posts: 17 Connected
    Do you mean I wouldn't have my benefits reduced if she claimed carers allowance for me?
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 215 Listener
    No you wouldn't but she earns 2 pound more  I'm not entirely sure but I think she needs to earn 116
  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering

    At the moment your girlfriend couldn't claim working tax credit as she doesn't work enough hours in her current situation (although if she was on PIP, 16 hours would be enough). I also think you should be careful before making any new claims for benefit to check you are not living in a Universal Credit full service area (you can check this by putting your current postcodes in the tool here).

    Claiming carer's allowance (CA) is a good idea if your girlfriend would in practice be caring for you at least 35 hours a week. Care can include psychological support. However, at the moment, she earns too much to get CA - because, as Budgie2 says, she earns more than £116 a week. It sounds as if her course would be considered part-time however, so she wouldn't be prevented from getting CA by her studying.

    I think it might help for you to run some different scenarios through a benefit calculator (this is safe if your girlfriend is a part-time student and gets no student income). At the moment, you could continue claiming PIP and ESA but you would need to make your income-related ESA into a couple claim. Then that would be reduced by your girlfriend's earnings, and any student income she has. I've assumed here that at least some of your ESA is income-related at the moment.

    I'll give you an example. Couple rate ESA for people over 18 is £114.85. On top of that you would get the work-related activity group component of £29.05, but only if your limited capability for work began before April 2017 when they scrapped that component for new claimants. You'd also get an enhanced disability premium of £15.90 (because you currently get the enhanced daily living component of PIP), but you'd lose the severe disability premium which you may currently be getting (that's because, currently, your girlfriend isn't on PIP).

    That gives £159.80. Then your girlfriend's earnings come into it. £20 of those is disregarded (not taken into account). That leaves £98 which would come off your income-related ESA leaving £61.80 in income-related ESA. If your girlfriend has student income, it could be less, but as a part-time student this may not apply - in which case, you are safe to use the benefit calculators.

    As long as there is some income-related ESA, you can get full (maximum) housing benefit, but you need to be careful. If you are not already claiming housing benefit, OR if you move into a new local authority area, then housing benefit may have been abolished and replaced by universal credit (which is why you must check the universalcreditinfo website first). If you're renting privately, even maximum housing benefit may not cover your full rent.

    If your girlfriend earns a bit less, and she claims carer's allowance, then there is another option. If you are NOT in a universal credit area, she could claim income support instead of you claiming income-related ESA. This can be worth a bit more money, but you would need to be sure your girlfriend met the conditions (35 hours a week of care) and that you are not in a universal credit area, first. Another thing to bear in mind is that the earnings limit for CA is going up to £120 in April, but the minimum wage is also going up, so you need to think about what your girlfriend will earn then in the same job (the minimum wage also depends on her age, by the way). 

    If she claimed ESA too instead of the above scenario, then it's going to depend on whether she has enough national insurance contributions to get contributory ESA. With you as the main claimant, you could claim income-related ESA as a couple, and the contributory ESA would be taken off that as income. Again, be careful about making any new claims for income-related ESA in case universal credit has started - safer to keep your income-related ESA claim and make it a change of circumstances to a couple claim. 

    If she gets PIP daily living, and you are still getting it too, and no one gets carer's allowance for either of you, then you'd get the severe disability premium at the couple rate. I've assumed here that she wouldn't be working (permitted work is a whole other question). I think this route is a bit risky though, because there's no guarantee that she will get ESA or PIP (because the medical assessments are so poor), and it might take time before she got the right benefits. But I'd consider that she can be a part-time student and get ESA, so although it could be a fight to get it, it is possible that she might not have to give up studying in order to claim it. Contributory ESA isn't affected by studying, except that it might make the DWP question whether she has limited capability for work.

    If she worked and claimed PIP, and was still working 16 hours, then she could claim working tax credit BUT as explained above, only if the area doesn't have universal credit. Her working tax credit would be income which would reduce your income-related ESA further. You can ask the calculator to look at this - as long as there is no student income, it should be able to cope.

    Finally, just to say again - you only need some income-related ESA to be payable (or income support if your girlfriend claims as a carer), and you should get maximum housing benefit. But worth checking whether you would be making a new claim (which can be a problem in a universal credit area), and if it is private, what the local housing allowance is for your circumstances.

    I think I've answered all your questions but I'm aware that it IS very confusing. For now, I suggest you just take one scenario - moving in with your girlfriend whilst she is still studying and working as she is now. Is the rent private or social housing? How many bedrooms are there? Will her wage be going up in April, and when are you planning to make the change? The benefit calculator won't have the April benefit rates in yet (the disability benefits will go up, a bit). But it looks to me as if you would still get some income-related ESA, and so housing benefit should be ok. Therefore, what you need to research is whether housing benefit would cover the rent. Hope that helps!


    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • RainbowEyes
    RainbowEyes Member Posts: 17 Connected
    edited February 2018
    So, If she became my carer and earned under £116 could she claim income support instead of carers allowance? or does she have to claim carer's allowance to apply for income support? Can she claim them at the same time? And if so, would this affect my own benefits? 
  • RainbowEyes
    RainbowEyes Member Posts: 17 Connected
    Thank you so much for answering my question. It's so difficult to get my head around. Would my benefits still be reduced if my girlfriend was claiming carers allowance for me? If this were the scenario: I'm not in a universal credit area, I'm claiming PIP/income related ESA, my girlfriend is claiming carers allowance, would I definitely be able to get housing benefit? Thanks!


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