My 85-year-old mother has received notification that a personal pension has been underpaid since 1992. This means she will receive a back payment of £4,374 and an increase each year of £246 a month.
She currently receives housing benefit and council tax support as she is in local authority housing. She also gets attendance allowance. I know we have to notify the council of the change in circumstance, but can you advise if they will want to recover an overpayment in benefits? And, if so, how many back years can they claim?
It seems unfair that any over-payment could be reclaimed, potentially wiping out the backdated pension increase, especially when my mother isn’t at fault.
The council may decide that your mother has been overpaid housing benefit and council tax support because she received some of her pension income late. If the council decides your mother was overpaid, they may recover the overpayment. There is no limit to how far back the council can go to calculate and recover an overpayment.
If the council asks your mother to repay the overpayment, she may ask them to write off some or all of the amount. It will consider whether your mother acted in good faith. It is likely that the overpayment will be repaid, and the amount is large enough to justify recovery action. Plus, the council will look at whether recovering the overpayment would cause financial hardship to your mother or result in a deterioration of her health.
Your mother’s entitlement to housing benefit and council tax support may change now her income has increased. You can check this on the Turn2us website, using its benefits calculator. If she is struggling to make ends meet, it’s worth checking to see what other support may be available to her using Turn2us’s charity grants search.