Living with a disability? Be sure to claim a council tax reduction
Published 20 October 2016 by Linzi Nuttall
Find out if you can claim a reduction and a rebate.
If you’ve got a chronic condition or you’re living with someone who does, you might be entitled to a council tax reduction. Those who are medically certified as suffering from a chronic condition that impacts their intelligence and social functioning, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are “disregarded” for council tax in England, Scotland and Wales.
This means that like people who live alone, you can claim a 25% discount on your council tax. But according to MoneySavingExpert, thousands of households could be missing out on this discount because they don’t know it exists. Let’s take a look at how it works and whether you’re eligible for a council tax reduction.
Eligibility for discounts council tax
If you feel you are one of the many who have missed claiming this discount, it’s important to change that now so you can receive the 25% discount from here on. If you have been overpaying from any point since 1993, you may be due a refund.
Before you try to reclaim any council tax you’ve overpaid in the past, get the necessary claim forms to apply for a council tax reduction going forward. Contact your local council offices and request a claim form to register for council tax discount. Be sure to get any supporting evidence such as medical certificates, doctors’ letters or receipt of the benefits you receive. If they ask you for the original documents, take a copy to have as back up, just in case anything is lost or damaged in the post.
If the person you live with doesn’t claim benefits, you may need a letter from the Department of work and Pensions to clarify why they don’t claim.
Those living alone with a severe mental impairment should be exempt from paying any council tax.
There are some other groups that might qualify for a 25% reduction – they include:
• care workers,
• foreign language assistants,
• foreign spouse of students,
• members of religious communities,
• members of international headquarters and defence organisations,
• patients in homes,
• patients where hospital is their main residence,
• persons in detention,
• people over 18 but who still get child benefit,
• persons with a relevant association with visiting armed forces,
• residents of hostels or night shelters,
• school and college leavers,
• students on full-time courses,
• student nurses,
• students under the age of 20 undertaking qualifying courses, and
• youth training apprentices.
Be sure to contact your council if you or someone you live with is listed above. You could be entitled to reclaim if you have been eligible for a discount and not claimed it. The process and evidence requested for refunds varies from council to council, so get in touch to find out what information they’ll need from you.
How to claim a rebate
If you want to apply to reclaim council tax paid previously, do this separately. Write to your local council tax office and explain your personal circumstances. If you have completed your claim for council tax going forwards, send this together. If you send them separately, photocopy the form and send that with the letter too, so there’s no confusion.
Council tax was first introduced in April 1993 so you can claim back to this date. There’s no need to explain why you didn’t apply for a reduction earlier but you’ll need proof that you met the criteria for a discount at the relevant time in the past.
If you lived with someone who had a mental impairment but has since passed away, you can still reclaim overpayments from when they lived with you. Medical notes and other records will be needed as proof, so be sure to get the relevant evidence.
In Northern Ireland, the council tax system is slightly different so check out the nidirect website to see how this works.