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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70648
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was asked to attend an investigation regarding pension credits.

Customer Question

I was asked to attend an investigation regarding pension credits. I have had pension credits since 2009, I now understand that I should have not stayed out of the country for over 4 weeks. I was not aware of this I always understood it was 3 months. I had to attend the interview with a legal person. This I did - I answered all the question and explained that Yes I am now aware of the fact that I did stay away from the UK for longer at times. My main worry now is what will happen. ?¿ The legal person has given me no answer at all. I suppose that the money will be taken back if so will it be for the weeks that I was not in the UK or ALL? - how will this happen. Will I loose Housing benefit also. ? I am so worried and feel so stupid that I did not know this - Can you help please.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
It should only be for the weeks of non entitlement.
However, it will probably affect housing benefit too. If it is only four weeks then it should not although they may say that you should have declared it. Normally their cut off point is two months. That might need some negotiation before that is accepted though.
If the overpayment is under £3k then they may well just let you repay it without any prosecution.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have only had housing benefit for 2 years and 4 months, and I understand that you can be away for 13 weeks as long as the property is not sublet - I have never been away for that length of time. Do I have to wait for months to hear what they will decide to do. Do I have to attend another meeting or will it be done by mail?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They could call you in for a second interview but it is a simple case then probably they would not.
I'm afraid that the DWP take a very long tine to conclude investiations though.
Whether housing benefit is affected depends whether they accept how long you have been away.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My family are so upset for me - and ask if we can offer to repay what ever is owed to them. If we repay will I then have all benefits taken from me,
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, you shouldnt do long term. They may stop them short term though while they investigate.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you I am sure that they have investigated everything very well. I do not think there is any thing left for them to do. I am not disputing the fact that I did stay out longer than I should. My son had a place in Spain that I was caretaker for. (Now sold and all sorted) that was the reason for the visits abroad. I think they assumed the property belonged to me - which it did not. The money is his, and proved that it is in his bank. I had no home here so stayed with family and friends. All I want is to be settled and hopefully sort this problem, it is such a worry. I am so concerned that I shall loose my rented home.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
That is not very likely on these facts.
If it is a small overpayment they will probably just let you repay it.
Jo C. and 4 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you I think you have helped - I am 75 and obviously this came out of the blue and was extremely stressful. I cannot give actual dates I over stayed but you say up to 3k couls be possibly paid back. And I am pretty sure is less than that Thanks again. I only took a 1 month payment to you but thankyou
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem and all the best.
Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-remus2004/
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I did speak with you last week, just a few more things that I need to clarify please. the property in Spain that seemed to be the biggest problem at the start of this,it was purchased by my son in 2003 as a holiday home for the family. It was put into my name as he travels and lives in Dubai most of the time. I did not really enjoy being there- I only spent some time there in around 2004. Then I returned to Dubai for 2 years, I had spend quite a few years there previously. I returned to the UK and was taken ill with meningitis and was ill for months infact almost died. That is when I stayed in the UK and applied for pension credits. I eventually went back to Spain at times to make sure bills were paid etc:- Sometimes family would go over. We tried for 6 years to sell as my son has no interest in Spain. In 2014 a low price was offered he agreed. I sorted it all out and transferred to money to him. I had a flat in the UK and had housing benefit. I did accept the fact that I had stayed in Spain longer than I should thinking it was 3 months (That is as a non resident) obviously nothing to do with the pension credit. At the meeting with DWP they had all my bank statements - nothing much in the bank. Asked for the spanish statements of the last months of the sale. which I managed to get with great difficulty- So this is the full sorry tale. Is there any thing else I should know or do. All I feel is the main worry is the pension credits - If there is any thing else please let me know thank you.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My main worry is I suppose why after knowing that the property was not mine. I provided all they asked for. Why they wanted bank statements from Spain? At present they have not stopped any credits - should they decide to do this will I be informed. ? I may be worrying unnecessarily, as I have never been in trouble in my life. Thanks
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They may be concerned about ownership but that isn't something to worry about if you are not the owner.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
O K thank you. Just the question about the credits - IF as you said last week they may stop them for a while - As I said as yet they have not stopped them. Will I be informed if they do?¿
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, they will tell you about it.Not freezing them is a good sign.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much it has made me feel better.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem. All the best.