Q My friend aged 41, has lived with her partner for 18 years but he has recently died. She is too ill to get a job and has not paid National Insurance for 22 years. How does she go on?

A She cannot get Incapacity Benefit because this is based upon recent National Insurance. If the DSS accept she is too ill to do any work she could get Income Support depending upon her finances. For instance, her savings must be below £8,000.

Q You recently told a lady of 57 that her husband could claim an extra £40.40 a week for her. The DSS say my husband can get no extra for me on his Incapacity Benefit as I am too young at 58. Why the difference?

A Different benefits, different rules! That lady's husband was getting Retirement pension. With Incapacity Benefit a wife must be 60, or have dependant children, before an increase can be given.

Q I have Retirement Pension of £74.42 a week, a superannuation of £87.29 a month and low rate Disability Living Allowance. What help can I get?

A Certainly a Council Tax Rebate. You should be paying no more than £88 a year. If you have a rent you should be getting housing benefit as well.

Q I get Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and Retirement Allowance. Are these taxable?

A No.

Q When I took voluntary redundancy I opted for annual compensation payments from work rather than a lump sum. Now I find that, because I have these payments, I cannot get contribution based Jobseekers Allowance (CBJSA) but colleagues who took the lump sum are getting it. Why can't I?

A With occupational pensions or similar payments, the excess over £50 is deducted from CBJSA. One off payments are treated differently and will not affect the rate of benefit that you receive.

Q My husband who has been sick since 1991 gets Incapacity Benefit (IB) which is £117.69 a week. £50.19 of this is called 'additional pension'. Is it true he will lose this when he is 65 next year. He gets a works pension of £339.28 a month.

A His IB is based upon the Invalidity Benefit which contained an earnings related addition. IB must stop at pension age. Only someone in the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) has an earnings related addition to their Retirement Pension