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Council tax discounts for ‘severe mental impairment’

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  • CIS
    CIS Posts: 12,260 Forumite
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    Lynn8143 wrote: »
    No they were only receiving a small amount of CTR and dad was paying most of the council tax, that’s why we expected the SMI to make a difference. Anyway it is was it is, just wanted to see if people thought it sounded right as didn’t have any confidence in the person I spoke to at the council- didn’t appear to understand it herself. Also couldn’t get her to understand that maybe it would be a good idea not to send out credit notices making people think they are going to be paid nearly £500 when it isn’t true. I spent 35 mins of my lunch break queuing to take the completed refund forms to the council (as instructed by them) when it wasn’t necessary. Thank you for your advice


    As you have described it, it does sounds odd and the SMI status should have made a difference. Can you post a copy of the demand notice part where it shows the transactions ? It's much easier to figure when you can see the transactions and it's then usually relatively simple to see what's up.


    I wouldn't automatically assume the council is correct - I deal with cases of incorrect discounts etc regularly.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • rudeboyz
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    Been reading some of the posts on the forum concerning applying for the severely mentally impaired council tax discount.

    I applied for the severely mentally impaired discount to the local council on behalf of my mum who receives the attendance allowance & also suffers from Parkinson’s disease. The council sent out an application form which required my mum’s GP to sign. However the form merely refers to SMI, which my mum does not suffer from according to her GP who refused to sign the form. I asked the council if a GP letter stating my mum suffered from Parkinson’s disease would be sufficient along with my mum’s signature on the application form. I was told this would be adequate. The council than came back after receiving the application form & GP letter & states the GP would need to sign the form. The GP wouldn’t as my mum suffered from Parkinson’s disease & not SMI. The council than advised the GP to cross out all references to SMI on the application form & replace them with Parkinson’s disease instead.

    A couple of weeks later the council inform my mum her application for the SMI discount had been rejected as the GP had stated that my mum suffered from Parkinson’s disease & not SMI.

    The council said my mum can apply for a council tax reduction instead. What I want to know is:

    Does suffering from Parkinson’s disease meant you also automatically have SMI?

    Does the council tax reduction match the level of discount on offer from the SMI discount?

    Just need to clarify exactly what qualifies for the SMI & what does not.
  • CIS
    CIS Posts: 12,260 Forumite
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    Does suffering from Parkinson’s disease meant you also automatically have SMI?

    Does the council tax reduction match the level of discount on offer from the SMI discount?


    No and No.


    There is no specific illness or disability specified, it's the effect on the person that the legislation looks at.

    Council Tax Reduction is means tested and so may or may not cover the council tax charge.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • PollardUK
    PollardUK Posts: 20 Forumite
    edited 26 March 2019 at 10:14PM
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    Hi,
    This is a question for CIS, (or anyone that has experience/knowledge in regard to the law), and also, an apology for this overly long post before I even begin.

    My late Mother (who passed away from Vascular Dementia on Jan 15 2019), was cared for at home 24/7/365, by both my Brother and myself.

    Until her death, she had been in receipt of DLA (Higher Rate Care and Mobility Components), and SDA, since April 1994.
    Along with my late Father and elder Brother, (who were both unpaid Carers), I had been a Carer for her since 1995, and at the time of her death, I was still in receipt of Carers Allowance.

    She was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia (by CT Scan) in June 2016, and by accident, I came across the "Disrgarded Adults Discount Scheme", in relation to searching for something entirely different, around March 2018. I fully intended to download, fill out the forms and apply there and then, however, all of this coincided with a very dramatic downturn/decline in Mum's health, so unfortunately never got around to it.

    I only really remembered about it, (and the fact that it could be backdated), as I was going through all of the paperwork that we needed to amend/fill out as a result of a Mum passing away, so, called the Council Tax line again, dug out all of the relevant letters and forms, got a Doctor to confirm diagnosis/sign what I needed, and sent it all in a couple of weeks back.

    As I see it, all of the three of us fit the criteria as "Disregarded Adults", Mum for her SMI, and both my Brother and myself as Carers, (we both cared for Mum, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week before her official diagnosis, but even more intensely from the date of her CT Scan, when the caring, nursing, feeding and toileting components of looking after Mum began to ramp up, ending with almost unimaginable/unmanageable levels of care, right up until she passed away.

    Today I received a letter informing me that (and I quote),

    "A full Council Tax charge applies where two or more persons aged 18 or over are in occupation at any one time. Currently 3 persons are in occupation, so even if [Mums Name - deleted here] were to meet the disregard criteria no Council Tax discount will apply".

    Firstly, only my Brother and myself now reside at the property, secondly, the Council had already been notified of Mums Death (and were extremely efficient in sending out an amended Council Tax Bill/new Reference Code, but, due to the way that they calculate money owed, they neglected to inform us that that we were actually due an over payment, as we had effectively been charged twice for the month that Mum had passed away in), and thirdly, that the forms that I filled in, were addressed to and marked with, "Pers Rep [Mum's Name - deleted] Dec'd", (i.e "Personal Representative Of [Mum's Name - deleted] Deceased").

    I tried calling the Council Tax Phone line three times today, (spending 20 mins waiting in a queue, each time), but, again, due to time constraints, on every occasion, I had to put the phone down before actually getting to speak to an Advisor.

    From the nature/way that this reply is worded, I suspect that not only have they not cross referenced anything to do with our claim, but that I may have been sent the wrong form to fill in by my Local Authority, (as there is no reference on any of the forms in relation to the claim being backdated, with the exception of any information/evidence that I provided to prove Mums eligibility).

    I realise now that I should DEFINITELY have sent in some kind of covering letter, but unfortunately I relied upon what can only be described as inefficient, inaccurate and unprofessional information from Council staff, ending up in a process that has been dreadfully lacking in any real quality, to date.

    These are online links to the forms that I was returned, (but that were actually posted out to me by an advisor, to fill in). The forms marked 1 and 2, were completed by both Mum's GP and myself, and the form marked 3, was filled in by both my Brother and myself, individually),

    1 - http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/downloads/file/22919/severe_mentally_impaired

    2 - http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/downloads/file/5137/severe_mentally_impaired-medical_practitioner_authorisation

    3 - http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/downloads/file/5142/caring_for_relations

    So, my question is, given all of that information, would we be eligible to a backdated 50% Discount on our Council Tax, (from the date of Mum's diagnosis, to the date that she passed away), and if so, do I need to reply to the letter that I have received today informing them that I disagree with their decision, or is there another channel open that I can pursue that would be a little more efficient and substantially less time consuming?

    Any help/information in regard to this would be much appreciated,

    kind regards

    Tim


    P.S I'm not sure whether this information is pertinent, but, we all co- owned the house that we live in as "Tenants In Common" (50% by Mum, 25% equally by both my Brother and myself that was passed to us when my Father passed away back in June 2013), until Mum passed away.
  • calcotti
    calcotti Posts: 15,696 Forumite
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    It really would be better to start your own thread. Use the new thread button at the top of the thread list.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • PollardUK
    PollardUK Posts: 20 Forumite
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    Hi calcotti,
    Thanks for the reply/information. I only posted here as I was primarily looking for information/advice from CIS (who has posted multiple responses in this thread, so I thought that there was a good chance that he'd get to see/read my post), and also, there are other posts on this thread asking questions with similar/pertinent information, (hence adding my post here), but as you suggested, I have now made New Thread post,

    kind regards

    Tim
  • Machine_Silver
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    I am certain my mum would qualify for the mental impairment discount as she has been diagnosed with vascular dementia and also is a long term sufferer of severe anxiety and panic disorder. Until December 2017, she lived alone and got the 25% single person discount. At that point I had to move in care for her 24/7 leaving my own home vacant but furnished and as a single person, am also still paying my council tax at the 25% discounted rate. However, I now realise I may qualify for a class J exemption.


    Can you please tell me how the carer and mental health impairment discounts would/should apply to each of is in these particular set of circumstance and do means/savings tests affect eligibility? Should we both get 100% discount?


    Thanks so much in advance for any advice offered.
  • patd1967
    patd1967 Posts: 64 Forumite
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    I normally love how insightful Martin Lewis can be.But today as got to be the exception im afraid.He makes this sound so simple, but sadly that's not the case.
    Take for example my father who was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease 7 years ago, everything Martin as discussed we have done 4 yes 4 times and been turned down for the discount.Apparently according to North East Derbyshire District Council they claim parkinsons disease does not entitle you to any discount.
    Foot note he has been diagnosed by GP and Hospital Consultant plus gets Attendance Allowance at higher rate.Im at a total loss what to do next
  • KatrinaWaves
    KatrinaWaves Posts: 2,944 Forumite
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    patd1967 wrote: »
    I normally love how insightful Martin Lewis can be.But today as got to be the exception im afraid.He makes this sound so simple, but sadly that's not the case.
    Take for example my father who was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease 7 years ago, everything Martin as discussed we have done 4 yes 4 times and been turned down for the discount.Apparently according to North East Derbyshire District Council they claim parkinsons disease does not entitle you to any discount.
    Foot note he has been diagnosed by GP and Hospital Consultant plus gets Attendance Allowance at higher rate.Im at a total loss what to do next

    Martin Lewis loves to go on morning TV and talk about Parkinsons and SMI. Why he chooses this particular illness I dno't know.

    IF the Parkinson's causes a severe mental impairment, as agreed by a doctor, then yes the SMI can be applied. However, someone could be very very ill physically with Parkinson's, as bad as you could possibly get, yet stll not qualify for the SMI as their intelligence is in no way impaired.

    Diagnosis with Parkinsons' is not enough, as Parkinsons does not always impair someone's mental capacity. Unfortunately I assume that your fathers doctor considers him to be functioning mentally at a capacity which does not fit the criteria of SMI.

    As CIS has said before, the legislation does not necessarily follow this BUT the intention of the SMI disregard was so that people were not paying for council tax when they had 'no say' in what the council tax was being spent on, could not understand who they wanted to vote for in elections etc and 'have their say' through their vote sufficiently. Many people with Parkinson's are able to function to that degree perfectly fine, whilst still suffering very badly with the Parkinsons.

    Maybe some mentally affected by Parkinson's are slipping through the crack and thats what ML is trying to highlight but he does not, and has never, given the full picture of this disregard.
  • guestjim
    guestjim Posts: 34 Forumite
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    edited 10 April 2019 at 11:12AM
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    If you apply and get one of the benefits then it shows you are entitled now and would have been previously for the time you were impaired - to any reasonable person. I'm not sure that includes some council departments.

    Our council - Watford - has very reluctantly backdated the exemption to before the benefit was actually received.

    They acted after mentioning the Valuation Court, which has a relative easy way of appealing against the Council actions.

    The existence of the Valuation Court and it's role should be made clear by all councils. In fact, it seems well hidden by them.
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