Finance / Forward Planning

 

47. I am now off sick from work due to my disability and cannot afford my rent. What can I do?

Housing and Council Tax Benefit is available to help people who can no longer afford their rent and council tax. Eligibility criteria are complex,however, anyone with a limited income (even if you or your partner are working full time) and savings of less than £16,000 – (at 2014) can apply for help.
Visit the government website https://www.gov.uk/housing-benefit for more information
about housing benefit.
The scheme is administered by the district councils in Somerset and you should contact them for advice, information and application procedures. Their contact details can be found in Appendix E.
Your local council may also be able to provide a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) which can assist in meeting rent costs.

 

48. What benefits may I be entitled to?

There are a selection of benefits which you may be entitled to and this depends on individual circumstances. Those people with a disability will usually claim one or more of the following:
• Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
• Attendance Allowance
• Employment and Support Allowance

You may also be entitled to:
• Carer’s allowance
• Industrial injuries disablement benefi t
• Tax credits
• Jobseeker’s allowance
• Income support
• Pension credit
• Universal Credit
• Child tax credit
• Help with housing costs and council tax

Rules are complex and some benefits are paid at different rates depending on the extent of your disability.
Your entitlement to one benefit can also be affected by other benefits you may be claiming.
Visit GOV.UK’s benefits information webpage for further details – https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits
As it is a complex area you may wish to seek independent advice on what you may be entitled to claim. Contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau for assistance (See Question 45 for contact information).

 

49. What parts of my care will be free?

In general, all health services (apart from dentistry and opticians’ services) are free. In contrast, there is a charge for most social care services, depending on your ability to pay.
If you have significant or complex health needs, you may be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) funding.

This is the name given to a package of care which is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals outside of hospital who have ongoing healthcare needs. You can receive Continuing Healthcare in any setting, including your own home or a care home.
NHS Continuing Healthcare is free, unlike help from social services for which a financial charge may be made depending on your income and savings.

If you are found to be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare in your own home, this means that the NHS will pay for healthcare (e.g. services from a community nurse or specialist therapist) and personal care (e.g. help with bathing, dressing and laundry). In a care home, the NHS also pays for your care home fees, including board and accommodation.

Anyone assessed as having a high level of health care needs may receive NHS Continuing Healthcare. It is not dependent on a particular disease, diagnosis or condition, nor on who provides the care or where that care is provided. Once eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, your care will be funded by the NHS but this is subject to review, and should your care needs change the funding arrangements may also change.

If you are not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, the local authority will discuss with you whether you may be eligible for support from them. If you are not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare but still have health care needs, then the NHS may still pay for part of the package of support. This is sometimes known as a ‘joint package’ of care. One way in which this is provided is through NHS-funded nursing care.

With ‘joint packages’ you may be asked to contribute financially towards the social care part of the ‘package’, depending upon your income and savings. There is no charge for the NHS part of a joint package of care.
Whether or not you are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, you are still able to make use of all of the other services from the NHS in your area in the same way as any other NHS patient.

You should receive NHS-funded nursing care if:
• you are resident within a care home that is registered to provide nursing care, and
• you do not qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare but have been assessed as requiring the services of a registered nurse.

Most individuals will not need to have a separate assessment for NHS-funded nursing care if they have already been considered for NHS Continuing Healthcare as this process will give sufficient information to judge the need for NHS-funded nursing care.

 

50. What elements of the care I need will be means-tested? Who do I contact to be means-tested – how long will it take?

Social Care services, such as help with washing, dressing, feeding and leisure activities, are available from Somerset County Council and in a variety of settings including your home. However, your needs will have to be assessed and part of this assessment process includes means testing. Some people will be entitled to all their costs paid whilst others with savings may have to pay the full cost of the care they receive. Most will fall between these two points and will have to pay a contribution towards the costs of their care.

Social Care commonly means:
• Residential and nursing care
• Temporary or respite care
• Services you receive in your own home (Home Care) or at a Day Centre

When you enquire about receiving services you will be asked about your circumstances so that you get a proper assessment of your needs.
Waiting times for assessments vary greatly according to demand, for an assessment and further information on current waiting times you will need to contact the Adult Social CareTeam at Somerset County Council on 0300123 2224.
For the financial assessment, a specialist from the Financial Assessment and Benefits team (FAB) at Somerset County Council will talk with you to discuss what, if any, contribution you will need to make towards your care needs. They can also help with making sure you are receiving the correct benefits you are entitled to. Anyone with savings over £23,250 (2014/15 level) will most likely not receive any help toward their care costs until their savings drop to this threshold. The FAB team can be contacted on 0300 123 2224.

Those that are on a low-income will not have to pay for means-tested services. The Government has set these limits based on basic Income Support / Pension Credit level plus an extra 25% of this. For example, a single pensioner will not have to pay any charge for Care and Support at Home if their income is below £185.44 a week, or someone aged between 25 and 59 (receiving high rate Disability Living Allowance care/enhanced Personal Independence Payment) will not have to pay any charge if their income is below £148.75 a week

 

51. How do I apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant?

A Disabled Facilities Grant is a local council grant to help towards the cost of adapting your home to enable you to continue to live there. A grant is paid when the council considers that changes are necessary to meet your needs, and that the work is reasonable and practical.
You can claim if you, or someone living in your property, is disabled. A grant can be used for adaptations to give you better freedom of movement into and around your home and/or to provide access to essential facilities within it.

If you are disabled, acceptable types of work include:
• widening doors and installing ramps
• providing or improving access to rooms and facilities – for example, by installing a stair lift or providing a downstairs bathroom
• improving or providing a heating system which is suitable for your needs
• adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
• improving access to and movement around the home to enable you to care for another person who lives in the property, such as a child

An occupational therapist will assess your needs and make recommendations for adaptations that are necessary and appropriate to your circumstances and can recommend the type of adaptation(s) needed.

The amount paid is usually based on a financial assessment – a ‘means test’ – of your average weekly income in relation to your outgoings. Means testing will take into account savings above a certain limit.

Certain benefits including Disability Living Allowance/PIP and Income Support are generally ignored.
If you have a partner, your combined income will be assessed jointly. Capital is included in the means test. Depending on the outcome of this assessment the amount of financial assistance offered can vary from 0 to 100% of the cost. Contact Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224 for further details or your local district council (See Appendix E).

You may also be entitled to a reduction in council tax under the disability reduction scheme. This makes sure disabled people do not have to pay more council tax if they require a bigger property or have to adapt their property because of their disability.
In order to qualify, the home must have at least one of the following features:

• An additional bathroom or kitchen in the property which is needed by the disabled person.
• A room (other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet) needed by and mainly used by the disabled person.
• Enough space in the property for the disabled person to use a wheelchair indoors.

The extra room does not have to have been specially built, and it can be an existing room, but it must be of major importance to the wellbeing of the person with the disability and extra or additional to what a person would ordinarily need.
If you do qualify your council tax bill will be reduced to the lower band than it is currently on, so if it was a band D it will now be charged as a band C. To apply for the reduction contact your local council (See Appendix E). You may need to provide additional supporting information along with your claim, such as a doctor’s letter.

 

52. Is there any other financial help available?

You can apply for a Budgeting Loan – These are interest free loans to help people who have been on a qualifying benefit for at least 26 weeks to help with intermittent expenses for particular items to which it may be difficult to budget, allowing the cost to be spread over time.

You may also choose to receive Direct Payments – This is a scheme supported by Somerset County Council, provided by an organisation called Enham. Direct Payments are money paid to people with assessed care needs so that they can choose, arrange and pay for their own care services. Direct Payments make it possible to have more choice and control over the type of help and support needed.

Direct Payments are means tested and are only available for those that have been assessed to have a care need. For further information contact Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224.
Some other financial help may be available from charitable sources. Access to these funds can depend on a number of criteria and there are a variety of different charities offering financial support. In the first instance it is recommended that you contact the help desk or information line for your neurological condition or you could contact Turn2us.

Turn2us is a free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.The Turn2us Grants Search database contains information on over 3,000 charitable funds offering welfare and education grants, as well as other support and services.
Visit their website: http://www.turn2us.org.uk/grants_search.aspx

 

53. How do I apply for Continuing Healthcare funding in Somerset?

In the first instance a healthcare professional such as a nurse or doctor could carry out an initial ‘screening tool’ before you leave hospital or a social worker may do it whilst making a care assessment once at home. This establishes if your needs are of a level that may make you eligible for Continuing Healthcare funding.

After the initial screening the clinical commissioning group (CCG) for Somerset will contact you to confirm whether or not you have been referred for a full assessment of your care needs with a view to providing Continuing Healthcare funding.

This full assessment will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team and they will look at all aspects of your care needs. They will then make a recommendation to the CCG about your eligibility for the funding.

The CCG will then review the information and contact you to let you know whether you are eligible or not. If you are eligible the CCG will provide you with further information.

The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group can be contacted at:
Wynford House
Lufton Way
Yeovil
Somerset
BA22 8HR
Telephone: 01935 384000
Email: enquiries@somersetccg.nhs.uk

 

54. What happens if I am not eligible for Continuing Healthcare funding and I wish to query the decision?

If you are not eligible then the CCG will refer you to your local authority who can discuss what support they may be able to offer.
If you are unhappy about the decision to not proceed you to a full assessment after the ‘screening tool’ then you can ask the CCG to reconsider the decision. If you disagree with the eligibility decision made by the CCG after the full assessment then you can ask the CCG for an independent review of your case (See question 53 for contact details).

 

55. Where would I go to make a Will? How much will it cost?

Most High Street Solicitors will provide a Will writing service and it’s well worth shopping around for the best price. Many can also arrange a home visit in order to take your instructions in respect of your estate. Some people can get this free or at a reduced cost however you must be aged over 75 and satisfy a means test requirement. Any solicitor offering advice under the Legal Advice and Assistance Scheme can give you more information about this.
In addition to Solicitors there are certain commercial Will writing companies who advertise locally (see your Yellow Pages).Costs will vary.
You may also like to see the following useful website: www.makingawill.org.uk
It is also possible to write your own Will and you should seek professional advice on how to do this and how to obtain the necessary forms.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (see Question 45 for details) can give you more information about this. Information on this subject is also available from the various neurological charities.

 

56. How do I establish a Lasting Power of Attorney? How much will it cost?

A Power of Attorney is generally made to ensure that a loved one and/or relative can look after your affairs and best interests once you lack the mental capacity to do this yourself. They are made in advance and therefore can give you tremendous peace of mind that, should the worse happen, your chosen attorney will always be able to look after your best interests. If a person already lacks the necessary mental capacity then they will be unable to create a valid Power of Attorney. However, concerned relatives can ask the Court of Protection to make decisions on
behalf of someone who is having difficulties in making decisions themselves.
Some people will have an Enduring Power of Attorney and if this is the case it is still a valid and useful document. However, from April 2008 Enduring Powers of Attorney were replaced by a new system of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) which are designed to increase the level of security and introduce certain checks and balances into the Power of Attorney system.
There are two basic types of LPA, one which is designed to help if you want to make arrangements for your financial affairs and another if you want to make arrangements for your wellbeing and health.
There is a fee for lodging a LPA with the Public Guardian’s Office. The forms are fairly straight forward to complete, however if you feel you need some help then contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (see Question 45).
For further information view the GOV.UK webpage – https://www.gov.uk/browse/births-deaths-marriages/lasting-powerattorney
– Where you can also complete the forms online if you wish.