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The Welfare Reform Act 2012 is bringing major changes to the benefits system, particularly for people of working age. It is mainly aimed at reforming the benefits system for people of working age, but some of the changes will affect older people too.
Here are some of the main changes:
Universal Credit will replace certain benefits for people of working age, including:
Universal Credit will be introduced from October 2013. If you are in later life, you may be affected if:
By ‘Pension Credit age’, we mean the age at which you are eligible to claim it. You don’t actually have to be claiming it. This age is gradually increasing at the same pace as women’s State Pension age.
A new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people of working age who are disabled.
‘Working age’ means below 65, but this age will rise as State Pension age rises. When someone receiving PIP reaches 65, they will be able to keep claiming it as long as they still meet the criteria for it.
PIP will have two components called mobility and daily living component. Each of these components will have 2 rates of payment, depending on the level of disability of the claimant.
PIP will start to apply to some new claimants from April 2013, and to all from June 2013. If you currently get DLA you may be reassessed for PIP. If you are under 65, reassessments will start from autumn 2013. The government has not yet decided whether to reassess people who are over 65 and getting DLA when PIP is introduced.
Council Tax Benefit will be abolished and replaced with local support in 2013-14. Local authorities in England will receive funding to help people pay Council Tax. Scotland and Wales will come up with their own local schemes.
The Government has said current and future pensioners in England should receive the same level of support under the new scheme as at present. Support for people of working age is likely to be reduced.
You can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re unable to work because of illness or disability. Contributory ESA used to be payable indefinitely, but now it is only paid indefinitely to people with severe medical conditions (in the ‘support group’). Everyone else can only claim it for a year.
If you’re under Pension Credit age and you rent a house in the social housing sector, you will get less help with your rent after April 2013, if you are considered to have more bedrooms than required (this has been dubbed the 'bedroom tax' by the media).
As explained above, under Universal Credit you will be treated as ‘working age’ if you are a pensioner, but have a younger partner so some pensioners may be affected by this in the future.
There will be a limit on the total amount of benefits you can receive if you're of working age. It will be linked to the average earnings of a working household. It will be £350 a week for single adults and £500 a week for couples and lone parents. The cap will mainly affect people who are under Pension Credit age but may also affect you if you are over that age in certain circumstances: if you or your partner are claiming Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance; or your partner is claiming Universal Credit.
The cap will not apply to you if you receive Disability Living Allowance, Working Tax Credit, ESA support component or war widow’s pension. The cap will start to be introduced from April 2013 through reductions in Housing Benefit.
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Use our benefits calculator to find out what else you may be able to claim.
If you look after your partner, or a relative or friend who needs help because they are ill or disabled, then you are a carer and may be entitled to Carer's Allowance.
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PDF stands for ‘portable document format’.
Most downloads on this website are PDFs. We use this format to ensure that the document looks the same on everyone’s computer (website pages, by contrast, appear differently depending on how people have set their computer up).
Computers use a program called Adobe Acrobat Reader to download PDFs. If you try clicking on a link to download a PDF and it doesn’t work, you will need to install Adobe Acrobat Reader onto your computer.
The process is quite straightforward and is free.
PDFs cannot be changed. If you need to be able to type into a downloaded document (for example, if we are offering a letter template that you need to put your name on) we will provide it as a Microsoft Word document rather than a PDF. You can then download it, type into it and save it to your computer.
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Close the browser window to return to the Age UK website.
We have made every effort to make our PDFs accessible to screen readers. Here is an overview of your accessibility options available in Acrobat Reader. Please ensure that you have downloaded the latest version of Acrobat Reader from the Adobe Reader website to ensure that they are included in your version of the programme.
You can use Adobe Reader to read a PDF out loud with the following shortcut keys:
You can also convert a PDF into a web page by following these steps:
You can convert a PDF document into a text file for use with other software and hardware such as Braille printers by opening the PDF and choosing ‘Save as text’ from the File menu.
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Age UK, Tavis House, 1-6 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9NA. Registered charity number 1128267. Company number 6825798. © Age UK Group and/or its National Partners (Age NI, Age Scotland and Age Cymru) 2013. All Rights Reserved
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