There are varied living conditions that married couples may choose to adopt for a more convenient lifestyle. Through this blog post, we will discuss whether married couples can continue to live in separate homes to claim benefits. We will also review different relationship statuses of partners when they live together or separate and the impact of these decisions on their benefits claim. 

Can You Be Married But Not Live Together To Claim Benefits?

Yes, you can be married but do not live together. However, if you are choosing to live in separate homes due to benefits claims, you will still be obliged to inform the Department for Work and Pensions of this significant change in your circumstances.

A lot of times, couples choose to live separately despite being married due to their jobs and work-related commute. In some cases, they do so, so that they are able to claim means-tested benefits that they were claiming prior to their marriage as the incomes and savings of couples are jointly considered when assessed for a benefits claim.

For instance, if either of the spouses receives Child Benefits, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Universal Credit, the amount that they receive from the DWP each month may be reduced when both of their earnings are taken into account for a means test.

Similarly, if either of them has been receiving a Bereavement Allowance, they will lose claim of this benefit once they start living with a partner. However, in this case, they will also run the risk of not announcing a change of marital status to the DWP (which they are supposed to). If the DWP finds out that someone has lied about their personal circumstances or deliberately hidden information in order to continue claiming benefits, the claimant can be held accountable for benefits fraud.

When someone above the age of 18 years who is classified as a non-dependant adult, is staying with you that your Housing Benefit or Council Tax may be reduced. The reason is that the authorities expect them to contribute towards your expenses, even if you do not expect them to. 

According to the DWP, if two people are living under the following conditions, they will be considered as living together:

  • One of them is the registered owner or registered tenant of the house while the other one continues sharing the premises with them as their main residence without having a postal address of their own
  • The unregistered occupant is using your home address for to be registered to vote, receive their mail, benefits claim and tax payments
  • Both occupants share a joint account

If the above conditions apply to a couple and they choose to live together only to claim more benefits, they may be held guilty of benefits fraud.

Benefits that are affected as a result of a marriage or its dissolution include the following:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Can You Claim Benefits When Separated But Living Together?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you and your partner choose to separate as a couple but continue living together. However, if you were claiming benefits as a couple, they may be reduced to single person claims. On the other hand, being separated may make you and your partner eligible for certain other benefits that you were unable to claim before.

If you and your partner were jointly claiming benefits as a couple, it is advisable for you to inform Job Centre and HMRC of the change in your relationship status as you may no longer qualify for the same amount. Alternatively, you may now be able to claim certain other state benefits due to your single status.

If there are children involved, the parent with the main care responsibility of the children will be eligible for a Working Tax Credit if they work 16 hours a week.

If you and your partner decide to confirm your separation (and are not considering it as a trial period), it is advisable to inform the following of your relationship status:

  • landlord or housing office
  • housing benefit office
  • council tax office
  • mortgage lender
  • gas, electricity and telephone companies
  • benefits office
  • tax office
  • your children’s school (if any)
  • bank; in case you have a joint account
  • credit companies
  • insurance companies; if you have joint policies

How Long Can Someone Stay Without Affecting Benefits?

Whether it is a partner, friend or family member; anyone can stay at your house without affecting benefits as long as your place of residence is not their main residence. This means that they may choose to stay with you for a few days or sleepover in the night or stay over if they are taking care of you for any reason; however, they must have evidence to prove that they have a permanent residence of their own where they are responsible for paying rent, council tax and monthly utility bills.

There has been a general assumption that someone staying over at your place for two to three nights per week will not affect your benefits or in the case of a relationship, you will not be considered as a partner. The error with this assumption is that it is not the number of days (or nights) that count towards classifying two people as living together and consequently affecting their benefits, it is the evidential proof of whether someone is considering your home as their own when they stay in your house. 

How Much Is A Non-Dependant Deduction From Housing Benefit

Depending on the gross income (this is the sum of their incomes from varied sources before any deductions or tax payments) of the non-dependent adult who is living with you, there will be a reduction in the amount of Housing Benefit that you are currently receiving. The reason for this is that your cohabitant is expected to contribute to your household expenses through their income and savings.

A detailed breakdown of cohabitant’s income bracket and their impact on your Housing Benefit is given below:

Weekly Deduction: Housing BenefitGross Income of Cohabitant
£15.95Less than £149
£36.65Between £149 and £216.99
£50.30Between £217 and £282.99
£82.30Between £283 and £376.99
£93.70Between £377 and £468.99
£102.85£469 or more

Are There Any Exceptions To Non-Dependent Deductions From Benefits?

Yes, there are certain situations under which despite having a non-dependent adult living with you for an indefinite period of time, no deductions will be made from the benefits you currently claim. These are classified below on the basis of different situations:

In the case of a partnership:

  • either of the partners (or both) is (are) registered as blind
  • either or both of them are getting Attendance Allowance, the care component of Disability Living Allowance, the standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or the Armed Forces Independence Payment

In case of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support:

There will be no deduction from either of the state benefits if the non-dependant person living with you is:

  • below the age of 18 years
  • below the age of 25 years and on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • currently on a work-based training for young people and receiving a training allowance
  • a full-time student or student nurse;
  • recently released from hospital after a period of more than 52 weeks;
  • in legal custody, 
  • a homeowner or renter of a property 
  • currently on Pension Credit 
  • a student working during the summer
  • mentally disabled

Can My Partner Stay At My Home Without Paying Council Tax?

Whether or not your partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend(s) need to pay council tax while staying over at your place depends on the duration and nature of their stay. If they have their own place and a council tax bill to their name, they may stay over weekends or even a few weeks at your place without affecting your council tax bill or any discounts that you are eligible for such as council tax reduction due to single occupancy. 

However, should their stay be extended enough or frequent enough that your home becomes their main residence, you may lose your single-occupant discount if you were previously eligible for it. If they don’t have another property to declare as their main residence or they don’t have a council tax bill to their name, you might lose your council tax discount due to their extended stay. 

If your partner spends more than 6 months in a year at your place, they may consider adding your home as their main residence and applying for a second home discount on their own premises. For this, you may require to consult your respective local council offices to learn about each council’s taxation and discount schemes in this regard. 

What Is A Single Person Council Tax Benefit?

If you live alone or are the only adult in the household, you are eligible for a 25 per cent discount on your council tax bills (irrespective of your income or savings). This is a single person discount on council tax. To avail of this discount, you must inform your local council office of your circumstances and  apply for Council Tax Reduction  so that your bills may be adjusted appropriately.

If your former partner continues sharing premises with your despite the end of your relationship, you may be eligible for a full council tax. However, if only one of your continues living on the premises, you may be able to claim a single person discount on your council tax and reduce your expenses. 

Conclusion:

From the discussion in this article we have come to learn that you can be married and not live together. However, if you are choosing to live in separate homes due to benefits claims, you will still be obliged to inform the Department for Work and Pensions of this significant change in your circumstances. A lot of times, couples choose to live separately despite being married due so that they are able to claim means-tested benefits that they were claiming prior to their marriage as the incomes and savings of couples are jointly considered when assessed for a benefits claim.

FAQs: Can You Be Married But Not Live Together To Claim Benefits?

Can I claim benefits if I live with my partner?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you live with your partner. However, the DWP will take both your incomes and savings into account while considering your eligibility for benefits claims.

Can someone stay with me if I claim housing benefit?

Yes, someone can stay with you if you claim housing benefit. However, if you are living as a couple, both your incomes and savings will be taken into account for a means test regarding benefits claims.

Does living with a partner affect Universal Credit?

Yes, living with a partner affects Universal Credit as you will be required to make a joint claim under which both your incomes and savings will be taken into account for a means test.

Can you be separated but still live together?

Legally, there is nothing wrong with living together with a partner after being separated as it is common for former couples to do so for financial reasons or in situations where children are involved.

What benefits can I claim when separated?

Separation from your partner will have the greatest impact on your income. As a result of this, you will be able to claim the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit

References:

When do the DWP or HMRC treat a couple as living together for benefit?

Separated But Living Together | Divorce-Online

A survival guide to benefits and living together | Advicenow.

Housing benefit deductions when living with non-dependants – Shelter England

Covid drove us to share a home but what are council tax implications?

Benefits and help with council tax when you separate – Citizens Advice

Sorting-out-benefits-after-separation

What happens to your home when you separate – Citizens Advice

Housing benefit deductions when living with non-dependants – Shelter England

A survival guide to benefits and living together | Advicenow

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