Reply To: Mixed Age Couples

Peter Barker

I think it might be too late now, but there is one thing they could try.

HB terminates when the older partner becomes a pensioner, and the younger partner does not remain entitled to a working age DWP means tested benefit. In this case, the older partner was the claimant of the DWP means tested benefit, so the conditions for HB to terminate are satisfied. If the younger partner’s ESA(c) is “old style” (claimed pre-UC full service) it could be topped with ESA(ir) (subject to pension income of course). But you cannot get ESA(ir) if your partner is entitled to IS: those two benefits are mutually exclusive. The younger partner can only be entitled to ESA(ir) for any period in which the older partner is not entitled to IS. That means the earliest ESA(ir) could begin would be the day after IS terminated. If ESA(ir) could be awarded to follow immediately after IS ended, you would then have unbroken entitlement to DWP means-tested benefits and HB would not need to terminate.

It’s going to be difficult now to get an ESA superseding decision from Feb 2021 though. In any case, the combined amount of ESA(c) and pension income might be too much for them to qualify for ESA(ir).

If they haven’t yet claimed UC, they could ask for ESA(ir) going forward anyway, with as much backdating as DWP will allow. Whether they qualify would be subject to the amount of pension income, but the calculation does include a pensioner premium so it’s possible. If ESA(ir) doesn’t go all the way back to Feb 21 though, HB cannot be reinstated. Then it’s a case of which is the better buy: working age rate UC including housing costs, or pension age rate ESA with nothing else. It will probably be UC unless their rent is very low.