Dutch national - Pension Credit and Housing Benefit?
My client is a Dutch woman who has lived in the UK for almost 30 years (obviously as a client of the NBTA she lives on a boat). She was born in July 1953. She receives a Dutch pension of about £103 per week. I’m not sure at the moment whether this is occupational or state pension but I don’t think it matters. She has practically no savings.
Am I right in thinking that she can now get firstly Pension Credit to top up her income to the minimum amount for those over state pension age? And secondly Housing Benefit to cover her housing costs, in this case mooring fee (and boat licence fee but that is another story I won’t go into here)?
Thirdly, am I right in thinking that it doesn’t matter whether her Dutch pension is an occupational pension or a state pension?
Fourthly, would she also be able to claim Winter Fuel Payment?
Finally, would she be able to claim Attendance Allowance if her health needs mean she is eligible?
The first and second questions are going to have the same answer. Entitlement to these benefits will depend on if your client has a “right to reside” in the UK. For EU nationals, this normally depends on whether they have residence rights under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016. The Regulations focus more on what you have been doing in the UK rather than how long you have been here, so we would need to know rather more about her work/benefit history and possibly information about her close family to advise.
Having said that, its very likely that during the 30 years she has been in the UK she has attained “permanent residence” one way or another - most obviously if she can point to a period of at least five years where she was working. If she is a permanent resident (or has another right to reside), PC & HB could both be awarded.
The third and fifth questions are related. AA doesn’t follow the same rules as PC & HB. This is because it is subject to EU co-ordination rules - i.e. the idea that a single EU state should take responsibility for paying particular sorts of benefits to an individual in the hopes of avoiding argument and duplication.
The rules are incredibly complicated, but the short version is that if the Dutch government is paying your client a state pension, then it is probably also responsible for paying your client any sickness benefits to which she might be entitled. This would mean that she wouldn’t be eligible for AA and would need to claim whatever Dutch sickness benefit might be relevant. If she is only receiving an occupational pension from a Dutch employer, then this rule won’t apply and an AA award might still be on the cards. Obviously if she is only receiving an occupational pension, she may need to consider claiming a state pension.
The answer to the fourth question is, I think, straightforwardly that she is entitled - because none of the above applies to the winter fuel payment which is based on ordinary residence.
There’s a helpful article from Henri at CPAG on the coordination rules that might be worth having a look at.
In a nutshell, if you’re in any doubt, the most pragmatic approach would be to make the Attendance Allowance claim because if the Netherlands are the competent state, the DWP should pass the claim to the Dutch authorities anyway.[ Edited: 3 Jul 2019 at 09:28 am by Paul_Treloar_AgeUK ]
Thank you Paul and Elliot, that is very helpful.
So I now have some more info from the client and I have a couple more questions.
If client applies for PC and/or HB, does she have to go through a separate application process to claim her Right to Reside, or is the existence of the client’s Right to Remain tested for within the PC/HB application process?
Secondly, if she applies for and gets Settled Status, does this act as proof of Right to Reside and thus supersede the need to prove she has R2R in a PC/HB claim?
Obvs she will have to apply for settled status soon anyway.
If PC and/or HB are claimed, then it will need to be considered as part of those claims whether she has a right to reside and is habitually resident. The essential claiming process is no different to a British national who has never left the UK - the difference is that the claim will generally be held up on the Habitual Residence Test or HRT.
PC will do the HRT. If she passes, then HB is passported. If she fails, then strictly speaking HB should make its own decision but in practice they will probably just follow PC.
Settled status does not supersede the right to reside test, but it is itself a right to reside (specifically, it is Indefinite Leave to Remain under Appendix EU of the Immgiration Rules). If she has settled status, then she should have little difficulty with the HRT.
Thank you Elliot, and also for replying so promptly.