My wife, who is 84 and lives in a residence, receives a pension credit of £23.09 per week from the Department for Work and Pensions.
This is a help towards your care home fees of £181.80 per week, which we pay directly to Hertfordshire County Council.
But the council says he should receive a pension credit of £36.42 per week, and is using this higher (but never paid) amount to calculate the fees of £181.80.
Discrepancy: Our reader has been given two different estimates on how much alimony credit his wife, who is in a nursing home, should receive (file image, posed by model)
I have sent HCC the DWP letter stating what your pension credit actually is, because using this figure it appears that you are overpaying HCC by some £723.60 per year.
But HCC just said that £23.09 is wrong and advised me to tell DWP.
I sent a letter to DWP, but got no response. So, my wife pays higher rates in the nursing home but she doesn’t get the help that she should. I’m stuck in the middle. Can you help? P.H., Hertfordshire
Helen Crane of This is Money responds: Nursing home fees are very expensive and you want to make sure you are not overcharged.
When a person enters a care home and part of their fees are funded by the local authority, the local authority will carry out what is called a financial assessment, to determine how much money the person needs to contribute.
What is the pension credit and how is it calculated?
The pension credit is a means-tested benefit for lower-income seniors.
It supplements your weekly income to a minimum of £182.60 for singles and £278.70 for couples, and is worth an average of £3,500 per year.
You can earn thousands of pounds in addition through help with housing, heating, council tax, TV licenses and other bills.
The Government says that having savings, a pension or owning a house are not necessarily barriers to receiving a pension credit, nor is it necessary to be receiving a state pension to obtain it.
But hundreds of thousands of eligible retirees miss out every year because they don’t know they can get it.
You can use this for free online pension credit calculator to check if you qualify and visit gov.uk/pension-credit or call 0800 99 1234 to make a claim.
This is based on things like whether they own a home, how much money they have saved, and how much pension they receive, as well as any pension credits.
He told me that his wife has been in the nursing home since 2020. Her benefit rates and entitlements have changed a couple of times since then, and clearly somewhere along the way, something went wrong with her calculation.
After reviewing the figures, you think you’re paying an extra £724 per year, essentially footing the bill for an extra month every 12.
He’s not sure how long this has been, as he hasn’t always received detailed figures on how care home fees are calculated, but he thinks the overcharging could date back to September 2020.
He first noticed this in April 2023 and has been trying to resolve the issue ever since, but with little success.
As retirees every penny counts so I was eager to help.
I have contacted Herts County Council and the DWP asking them to look into his wife’s case and make sure that what he is paying for care is the correct amount.
I am happy to say that the issue is now on its way to being resolved.
Firstly, the DWP has now increased the pension credit his wife receives from £23.09 per week to £44.10 per week. He also received another one-time payment of £66.
Based on this, the board told me that he was now making a revised assessment of his wife’s care fees.
After this is complete, I think you should ask for your overpaid money back.
Ignored: Our reader wrote a letter to DWP trying to explain his wife’s situation, but got no response because it didn’t include the correct information.
HCC said the problem occurred because the information he had on his wife’s savings was different than what was provided to the DWP.
You don’t know how this happened, but accept that it may have been an honest mistake on your part.
However, you tried to alert the DWP to this problem months ago, and they ignored your letter.
I asked a spokesperson why you didn’t get a response initially and was told it was because you didn’t provide enough information.
CRANE IN THE CASE
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Apparently, the department cannot respond to all letters, and therefore if there is not all the correct information, there is a chance that it will simply be ignored.
I don’t know much about the inner workings of the DWP, but it would surely make sense to reply to him and tell him what is needed, instead of leaving him high and dry.
However, since I contacted the DWP, they have been in contact and you have provided them with the correct information, resulting in the improvement of the pension credit score.
This highlights the importance of making sure any information you provide is correct the first time.
However, it is likely that elderly and vulnerable individuals are responsible for the care home fees for a loved one, and I think it is concerning that this issue could not have been resolved without my intervention.
How many others are out there who may be overpaying without even realizing it?
A Hertfordshire County Council spokesperson said: “Having looked at this case in detail and spoken to PH, although our assessment calculation was correct based on the information available at the time, it turned out that County Council and the DWP had different information about [his wife’s] savings level and therefore calculated the pension credit amounts differently.
‘Now that we are aware of this, we will revise the financial assessment accordingly.
“We are sorry that this confusion has occurred and hope that the revised assessment will resolve this issue.”
CRANE IN THE CASE
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