Celebrity claimants

Gary Vaux provides some seasonal advice to individuals who have seen better times

“I’ve been working abroad for a while, and had a dreadful accident. I lost my leg while working in a gold mine in Australia. I’m also in the middle of a very messy divorce. Can you tell me what help I can get?” (Miss H M M, London.)

There are not many opportunities for one-legged gold-diggers I’m afraid, although your local Jobcentre may know if any vacancies have been notified recently. While your divorce is going through, you may be due incapacity benefit, disability living allowance and income support, but the latter would stop if you get a large settlement as part of the divorce.

“We are planning to adopt a child from Africa. I don’t want any advice – I just want people to know how wonderful, warm and generous we are.” (M and G R, London.)

Er…OK. But don’t forget that you will be able to get child benefit and a child trust fund payment. Statutory adoption and paternity pay are also possibilities.

“My wife and I have been living in Spain but we have had enough and want to return  to the UK with our three kids. What will we be able to claim?” (D and V B, Madrid.)

Child benefit should be easy to claim but you may have more problems with means-tested benefits such as child tax credit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit as you’ll have to prove you are habitually resident in the UK.

“I left my job in the summer after a poor performance review. My employer is still paying me £50,000 a week, however, until I can get another job. Can I get jobseeker’s allowance as well?” (S-G E, Stockholm.)

No – your pay means you are not entitled to jobseeker’s allowance, even if based on national insurance contributions.

“I’ve been working as a schools dinnerperson. I only work during term times. How will my benefits be worked out?” (J O, Essex.)

With extreme difficulty! If the average hours of work you do during term time is more than 16, a week you also count as being in full-time work over the holidays so you can’t get income support for the holiday periods, even if you’re not working and not getting paid. You would have to claim working tax credit instead.

“I retire next year and will be claiming pension credit. Will my two luxury cars count as capital? Can I get Viagra on the NHS?” (J P, Hull.)

Yes and yes.

“I work very occasionally as a singer but mostly I’m unemployed. I have problems with my joints and I also suffer from narcolepsy, which means that I drop off to sleep at odd moments, such as when driving my car late at night or even in the middle of writing a…” (G M, Hertfordshire.)

It must be distressing for you to be dogged by such a problem. It can be very hard to claim benefits when you suffer from fluctuating conditions. Maybe you should do something about your joints and seek medical opinion that your blackouts are out of your control. DLA and incapacity benefit could both be a possibility.

Gary Vaux is head of money advice, Hertfordshire Council. He is unable to answer queries by post or telephone. If you have a question to be answered please write to him c/o Community Care

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