My husband’s in care and my pension is just £101 a week

Pension concerns: My husband is in a care home, my income is falling and I am moving to a cheaper flat

I am 82 and now live on my own because my husband is in a nursing home.

He is 78 and has some dementia and Parkinson’s.

He is lucky, because at the moment he does not pay for care because of his illness.

He has a teacher’s pension and a small pension from a part-time job after retiring as a teacher. He also has some savings.

I didn’t work long and was never full time. My weekly state pension is now £101 per week.

Before my husband got sick, we used part of my income and part of his. This would be much what many couples believe.

I now hope to move into a home where I can get extra medical help if I need it. I visit my husband weekly as he is only about two miles away.

Not too long ago I discovered that if I move and the house is sold, since he is a co-owner of this house, it means that I will only receive half of the amount.

This has been quite a blow to me, and I have had to settle for a cheaper flat and nothing else.

My husband was a very nice man and would have done anything for his family. I have no other income other than some Premium Bonds. Is it likely that I will be entitled to an additional benefit?


Steve Webb replies: It must have been a difficult time for you and your husband in recent years. I can totally understand why you would want to settle somewhere where you feel comfortable and your needs are met.

Thinking first about the value of your family home, there are two main ways a couple can share home ownership.

These are called ‘joint tenants’ or ‘joint tenants’. (Note: despite the use of the legal term ‘tenants’, in this case we are talking about a property that you own).

Where are a few Joint tenants of their property they have an equal share in the value of the property. If one of them dies, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the owner of the entire estate.

Where are a few tenants in common (which I assume is the case for you and your husband), they each own a percentage of the property.

In your case, that turned out to be 50 percent each, but it could have been a different percentage. In this case, when one partner dies, they can (if they wish) leave their half to someone else.

One reason why people may choose to be a joint tenant is the risk of having to pay healthcare costs in the future.

Did you miss out on an AOW benefit if you were a widower?

Steve Webb, former Secretary of Pensions and pension columnist This is Money

This is Money columnist Steve Webb is urging elderly widows who may have missed a back payment when their husbands died to get in touch.

He wants to help people get money that is rightfully theirs, and find out if there’s a systemic problem that hasn’t been picked up in the government’s massive correction exercise for older women who were underpaid.

Find out if you may be affected and how to contact Steve here.

> Will you miss out on AOW if you became a widow on retirement?

Simply put, if you only own half of the home, only half of the home’s value is at risk of being caught on a local government income test and potentially having to pay for the cost of care.

Before I go any further, I must emphasize that people should take proper legal advice before attempting to change the nature of their home ownership.

For example, if someone changes purely to avoid healthcare costs, there is a risk that a municipality will ‘see through’ this scheme and still include the entire value of the home.

In the case of tenants in common, if one member of a couple dies, they can (for example) leave their half of the house to their children.

If the surviving partner moves into a care home, the council would only take into account half the value of the home when determining what they can afford to contribute to care costs.

In your case, I see that you only have half the value of your home for the time being and that you have had to change your plans.

But I assume your husband gets the other half of the house sale value. There are several options on how this can be used by him to help you, but you really should seek professional financial advice before making any decisions in that area.

Looking at your regular income, you are now treated as a single person from the benefits system.

If your weekly income is only your state pension and you only have a modest amount of premium bonds, you will most likely qualify for a pension discount.

There is more information about pension credit here or you can call the helpline on 0800 99 1234.

If you succeed in this claim, you will not only get a higher weekly income, but you can also get help with things like council tax, fuel bills, a free TV license, and so on.

As a first priority, I would therefore like to encourage you to apply for a pension credit.

But you should also seek expert advice on what happens to your husband’s share of the house’s proceeds.

It may be that an advisor who is a member of the Association of Later Life Counselors (SOLLA) will have particular expertise in these matters.

Ask Steve Webb a retirement question

Former Pensions Secretary Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.

He’s ready to answer your questions whether you’re still saving, retiring or juggling your finances in retirement.

Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions following the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuary and consultancy firm Lane Clark & ​​Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at

Steve will do his best to answer your message in a future column, but he won’t be able to reply to everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his answers constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daytime phone number with your message – this will be kept confidential and will not be used for marketing purposes.

If Steve can’t answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a government-backed organization that provides free retirement assistance to the public. It can be found here and the number is 0800 011 3797.

Steve get a lot of questions about AOW forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you write to Steve on this subject, here he answers a typical reader question about COPE and the state pension.

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