Backdating social security

05-Oct-2015 23:18

Our experience of the backdating rules for these means-tested benefits suggests that their application can give rise to costly and time consuming appeals.The rules for backdating benefits will continue to vary significantly between different benefits even after these proposals are introduced.We believe the proposed timetable for implementation in October 2008 does not allow enough time for a proper consideration of these recommendations from any SSAC report which will follow from their consultation with stakeholders.

Over 113,000 older people in Northern Ireland are claiming Pension Credit according to the Social Security Agency’s Annual Statistical Report for 2007{footnote}Social Security Agency Report 2007{/footnote}Recent statistics show that the level of uptake of the guarantee element of Pension Credit has increased in the last year from 78% to 93%.{footnote}DSD Statistical Press Release 2 August 2007{/footnote} Research carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on behalf of Help the Aged in 2007, showed that full take-up of Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit and Pension Credit lifted significant numbers of pensioners out of poverty.{footnote}Meeting the Challenge: Defeating Pensioner Poverty, Help the Aged (2007){/footnote}Given the current rise in the costs of living and in particular the costs of oil, gas and electricity it is a fact that many pensioners are facing stark decisions between food and heat.The Department for Work and Pensions proposes to introduce regulations to take effect from 6th October 2008 which will provide for the time for claiming Housing Benefit and Pension Credit for pensioners to be reduced from 12 to three months; the backdating period for HB working age customers to be reduced from 52 weeks to three months and the period for which Pension Credit may be retained while abroad to be increased to 13 weeks.Law Centre (NI) is concerned about the potential impact of some of these changes on several groups of people in Northern Ireland: older people entitled to claim Pension Credit, people in work entitled to Housing Benefit including migrant workers and self-employed people and others who could be considered vulnerable.Pension Credit is recognized by charities such as Age Concern NI and Help the Aged NI as being a particularly useful benefit in maximizing the incomes of pensioners.

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We provide specialist legal services to advice organisations and disadvantaged individuals from our two regional offices.Our social security unit comprises four specialist caseworkers who also convene a Social Security Practitioner Forum within the advice sector.

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