State benefits and caring - advice please?

For information and discussion about benefits
Hi,

I hope this is the correct area to post this question and I am sorry if this question has been asked before but I need some advice and thought that this forum could be the best place to get the best type of advice - from people who may be in the same situation and who understand my worries, fears and confusion.

I was transferred onto contribution-based ESA earlier this year (from Incapacity Benefit) & I was placed in the work activity group (despite having M.E. & other health problems). I had to go to the jobcentre today for a work related interview - the adviser was very nice & understood that I couldn't work because I am the 24-hour carer for my husband who has Huntington's Disease. The adviser told me that the ESA stops in 150 days & asked if I received Carers Allowance. I told him that I only get the underlying qualification becuase I am not on any of the benefits that qualifies me for the actual payment of that allowance. He suggested I ring Income Support to find out is I would qualify for that benefit (which I understand is going to be a Universal Credit from next year). Rang them and was advised not to claim for Income Support until the ESA runs out & even then I may not qualify for that benefit because my husband gets Incapacity Benefit. I would get Carers Allowance though. I am really worried now because if our benefits drop that drastically we would lose approximately £45 per week which is a huge amount for us.

My husband has to have a diet of 7,500 calories per day (equivalent of feeding 3 adult men) & I have already economised as much as I can to take into account the extra money it is going to cost in gas & electricity this winter then there is clothing & everything else that he needs.

To top off my glorious day I then discovered that we no longer qualify for free prescriptions so have had to set up a direct debit scheme for a Prepayment Certificate which is going to cost us £20.80 per month. The certificate won't be sent until after 3rd January 2013 and I will have to pay for the prescriptions that are ready to collect. I can only pay for my husbands prescriptions this month and will have to leave mine until the certificate arrives.

Has anyone else experienced any or all of this and if so can you tell me the best way to survive please?
many thanks
Hallo Titch. Welcome to the forum
Benefits can be a mine-field. Have you phoned the carers UK help line? They are very knowledgeable about benefits and Im sure they could help you.
Hi Titch,

Sorry I don't have the answers but "I know a man who does" Image

Contact the Carers UK Adviceline - the details are on the home page of the main website. If you can't get through on the phone then email them and they will get back to you as quickly as possible.
Hi SusieQ and Crocus

Many thanks for your replies - will ring the Carers UK helpline tomorrow. I really appreciate your replies - have been sitting here worrying all day about how we will manage and knowing that if I don't do something now to find out the facts about what we will be entitled to I am going to have nearly 5 months of worry.

I know there is a deficit in the country's coffers but why do they always target the most vulnerable? I thought this government 'valued' those of us who are Carers saving the country thousands of pounds each year yet now I just feel they are penalising those of us who care about the ones we love. Sorry it just makes me angry.

Many thanks again.
I had prepayment prescriptions before I was 60. You don't need to actually have the certificate when you go to the chemist, just say you have paid for one - I'm sure if you look on the internet you'll find the exact rules. Your chemist might know. My son was subject of a "spot check" and was sent a letter saying he had wrongly claimed that he was on IS. The checking system didn't allow for me being his appointee living in one town, and him having an address in another town.
Hi bowlingbun
Many thanks for your message - I would have got a number for the prescriptions if I had paid the total amount yesterday for the prepayment certificate but because I am doing it on the 12 month direct debit scheme I have to wait until the first payment goes out on 3rd January 2013 when they will send the certificate to me. Until then I will have to pay and then claim a refund back from them.