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Benefits for mixed-age couples (COVID 19)

A mixed-age couple is the term used by the DWP for two people living together in the same household as partners where one is over State Pension age and the other below State Pension age.

State Pension age is currently the same for both women and men at the age of 66.

 

Why does being in a mixed-age couple matter if you need to claim benefits?

  • Since 15 May 2019 it affects which means-tested benefits you are entitled to.
  • Entitlement to means-tested benefits depends on the level of your income and capital.
  • If you need to make a new claim for means-tested benefits and are part of a mixed-age couple, you will need to make a claim for working-age benefits, which now means a new claim for Universal Credit which is less generous, both in the amount you are entitled to and the capital rules.

 

Our income has been reduced due to coronavirus, what benefits can we claim?

  • The first thing should always be to check that the pension-age member of the couple has claimed any entitlement to the State Pension: 
  • If either of you are an employee are you covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for 'furloughed' employees? Please see our information on the Job Retention Scheme updated information about the extension to the Job Retention Scheme.
  • If you are currently in receipt of Working Tax Credit and have been furloughed, you are still entitled to receive Tax Credits.
  • If you are receiving Working Tax Credit and your hours of employment have been temporarily reduced due to COVID-19 and you no longer meet the minimum number of hours you are expected to work; the government has confirmed that you will still receive your usual tax credit payments providing that you are still employed or self-employed, this will not apply if you lose your job, are made redundant or cease trading. HMRC will continue to treat you as working your normal hours until the Job Retention Scheme ends at the end of September 2021, even if you are not using the scheme.
  • If your hours have been permanently reduced or you have become unemployed and you were in receipt of Working Tax Credit - you can qualify for a 4 week run on of tax credits.
  • If either of you are self-employed, you may be covered by the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. Please also see our updated information about the SEISS grant.
  • If you are an employee who is sick (either due to coronavirus or another reason), you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP):
    • SSP is the first benefit step for people who are currently working and earn at least £120 per week (from 06/04/2020).
    • There are no age limits for SSP, if you are an employee above State Pension Age, you are still entitled.
    • If you are in receipt of Working Tax Credit you are still treated as in remunerative work whilst receiving SSP and can continue to qualify.
    • SSP is paid by your employer and can be topped up by your employer's contractual sick pay.
    • If you cannot work due to coronavirus, from 13/03/20, SSP can be paid from the first day off sick instead of the usual 4th day.
    • Being unable to work due to coronavirus includes people who have not just been confirmed as suffering from coronavirus, but also those with suspected symptoms of coronavirus who, in line with government guidance, are self-isolating at home for 7 days or live in the same household as someone with the symptoms of coronavirus and staying at home for 14 days, are deemed as being incapable of work and entitled to SSP.
    • If you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to stay at home due to having symptoms of coronavirus, or you live with someone that has symptoms an Isolation Note can be obtained from https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/.   
    • SSP (from 06/04/20) pays £95.85 per week and can be topped up by means-tested benefits.
  • If you are the younger partner under pension age, and are now sick, you may be entitled to contributory New-Style Employment and Support Allowance, you cannot claim this if you are over pension age:
    • Entitlement for new claims for New Style ESA are based on whether you have paid or been credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions over the last three years, either after the 28 week SSP period, or from the start of sickness if you are an employee not entitled to SSP or are self-employed: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance#how-to-apply
    • If you are self-employed and have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions, you are also entitled to claim.
    • It can be topped up by means-tested benefits.
    • The seven waiting days for New-Style ESA will not apply if you are unable to work due to coronavirus in line with the above guidance for SSP.
  • If you are the younger partner under pension age and  have become unemployed (check with your previous employer if you were still employed on 2 March 2021 as you could be covered by the Job Retention Scheme as above), you may be entitled to contributory New-Style Jobseeker's Allowance, you cannot claim this if you are over pension age:
    • As with New-Style Employment and Support Allowance above, entitlement to New-Style Job Seeker's Allowance is based on your National Insurance contributions over the previous three years: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-jobseekers-allowance#how-to-claim
    • It can be topped up by Universal Credit.
    • You need to be available for and actively seeking work, however these rules are currently relaxed due to coronavirus and you will not currently need to go to the Jobcentre to 'sign-on', appointments at the Jobcentre are currently taking place by phone.
    • Entitlement to New-Style Job Seeker's Allowance is limited to six months.
  • All of the above benefits are only paid for the claimant, with no extra paid for your partner, the older partner can claim the State Pension or SSP and the younger partner can claim New-Style ESA, New Style JSA or SSP and entitlement is not affected by any other income or capital you may have. This is why we always recommend checking any entitlement to the Statutory benefits paid by your employer and the National Insurance based benefits first.

 

We have a low income, what means-tested benefits can we claim?

  • Means-tested benefits are under claimed, do not assume that you are not entitled, entitlement depends on your individual circumstances and can top-up your income even if you or your partner are working, if you are unsure request a benefit check.
  • If you are liable to pay Council Tax, contact us about claiming Council Tax Reduction
    • You need to have capital under £16,000 if you are not in receipt of Guarantee Pension Credit.
    • It can be claimed whether you are in or out of work and there are no restrictions on mixed-age couples making a claim.
  • If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and your income or circumstances have changed please report the change online or email benefits@swansea.gov.uk.
  • If you are currently not receiving any other means-tested benefits (Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support), as a mixed-age couple you will need to make a new claim for Universal Credit until the youngest partner reaches pension age.
    • Universal Credit (UC) can be claimed both in or out of work and includes amounts for you and your partner, housing costs, dependent children/young people, being a carer or having limited capability for work related activity.
    • The amount you receive as a couple in Universal Credit is much lower than under Pension Credit, however the amount has been increased by £20 per week until September 2021 due to coronavirus.
    • Housing costs is for eligible rent or eligible service charges, if you have a mortgage the only help is a loan secured against your house, and you cannot have any earned income and have to serve a nine month waiting period before getting any help. If you have a mortgage, talk to your lender about the three month payment holiday due to coronavirus and you should always seek financial advice before taking on a loan secured against your home.
    • You must have capital under £16,000 - this means any savings or investments and any property that you do not live in as your home. Capital between £6,000 and £16,000 reduces the amount of UC you may be entitled to.
    • Universal Credit claims usually need to be made and maintained online: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim. If you cannot make a claim online ring the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
    • Due to coronavirus, Jobcentre appointments are currently being done by phone   
    • You will need to verify your identity - this can be done using the DWP gateway.
      • Most face to face appointments at the Jobcentre remain suspended and contact will still be mainly via telephone; email or through your online journals.
    •  Universal Credit is a monthly benefit and you will have to wait at least five weeks before your first payment. You can request an advance, which is an interest free loan but will be deducted at a maximum of 30% (25% from April 2021) from your ongoing standard allowance, therefore you can get paid without having to wait five weeks but the monthly amount you then have to live on will be less until the advance is repaid.
    • Your 'claimant commitment' will set out what your work-related requirements are for each of you, the partner who is over pension age will not have any work-related requirements but must still agree and sign their claimant commitment. The work related requirements of the younger partner will depend on their circumstances, but in the short-term the level of work-related requirements are reduced due to coronavirus. The default for the younger partner will usually be all-work related requirements - you are a jobseeker unless you are accepted as being sick, being a carer, working and earning enough, responsible for young children.
    • When you both reach state pension age, you will no longer be entitled to UC and can then claim Pension Credit: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim

 

We are already in receipt of Pension Credit does this affect us?

  • If you are already receiving the Guarantee Credit of Pension or Housing Benefit under the pension age rules, you will continue to be entitled unless you have a change of circumstances which takes you out of entitlement e.g. your income increases:
    • Whilst most new job opportunities are currently limited, you may be one of a mixed age couple who previously worked for the NHS and are considering returning due to the current crisis.
    • Please be aware that this could have long-term implications from a benefit perspective as your temporary income could mean your income is too high to continue to be entitled to Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit.
    • If this means that you no longer have any entitlement to both Guarantee Pension Credit and pension age Housing Benefit, when this temporary employment ends you will not be able to reclaim them and will need to claim the much less generous Universal Credit instead.  This could have long term severe financial implications, especially if there will be a few years before the younger partner also reaches pension age.

 

We are currently getting Housing Benefit and the older partner is about to reach State Pension Age, how are we affected?

(by this we mean you are currently both under State Pension Age - this can be a complicated area, especially if the older member of the couple is already above State Pension Age and you should seek advice)

  • If you are the claimant for Housing Benefit and you are about to reach State Pension Age, your entitlement to Housing Benefit will end.  
  • You are unable to make a new claim for housing benefit because you are now a mixed aged couple (ie your partner will still be under state pension age), to receive help towards your rent you will have to claim Universal Credit.  
  • You will have to claim Universal Credit jointly and this will end any entitlement to means-tested benefits that you and your partner may be receiving (eg income-related Employment and Support Allowance; income-belated Jobseeker's Allowance; Income Support; Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit).
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