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The financial risks of transitioning into older age

Older person using ATM

This is a guest commentary. The views and opinions of the author may not always represent those of the Centre for Care.

The financial risks of transitioning into older age

We know that growing older does not come with a manual as I found out when I reached 67 in February 2023.

As a disabled person with a persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia) it was not clear what benefits I would be entitled to when I reached 66 in February 2022. My local Council had not spotted on their system that I was transitioning from Job Seekers Allowance Support Category onto my state pension.

With the data available to them one would have thought that this would have been brought to the attention of one of their benefits advisors but it was not.

Because I have a fluctuating capacity there are times when dealing with my financial affairs proves difficult. The link between money and mental health is widely known. Sorting things out proved overwhelming when I received a Decision Notice from the Council demanding a repayment of over £4,500 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax for February 2022 to February 2023.

I became very unwell with a reactive depression and this affected me, I became very irritable and anxious and could not sleep. I had inadvertently allowed my savings to marginally go over the upper limited threshold. This resulted in me being unable to claim housing benefit or pension credits as my nominal self-invested pension was considered.

I have always struggled to deal with my feelings associated with money which can affect mood patterns resulting with some people with overspending but with me it is just the opposite I scrimp and save denying myself simple pleasures. This might include holidays because having been made homeless in 2006 I fear the same thing happening again. I was very vulnerable at that time I recall.

I had lost my career, my marriage, financial ruination with restricted parenting rights as well so rebuilding a safe home environment was important to me as was creating some financial security in old age. Was this a mistake I ask myself?

Despite a Council decision maker eventually reversing their demand at appeal, their approach still churns out unwarranted harassing correspondence which leaves me wondering how responsive, effective, caring, and well-led such departments are. This episode left me feeling vulnerable and unsafe but I know now not to panic but seek help from organisations such as MIND.

There appears to be a lack of parity when you reach pensionable age especially if you are disabled, let me explain why. If you consider the ability individuals in work have to invest this is far greater than a disabled person who is unable to work. I include self-invested and company pensions including Additional Voluntary Contributions. How can a disabled person enjoy anywhere like the life-style others appear to do, especially those from a professional background?

One must wonder does this perpetuate social exclusion based on a lack of financial resources in old age specially when rents are on the increase and inflation is taking its toll.  Is it time for disability groups to look at this important transitioning topic from an equitable perspective?

About the author

Robert Walker

Robert is member of the Centre for Care Voice Forum.

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