Brit expat state pensioners on benefits worried over continued entitlement

Published:  23 Nov at 6 PM
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British expats in EU member states who’re in receipt of UK benefits are afraid they will no longer be eligible post-Brexit.

A number of Brit expats living in Spain and other popular expat hubs are receiving disability, illness and other benefits from the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions. The crucial benefits allow British citizens living in the EU to preserve their independence, remain safe and take care of their personal needs with dignity. Should these essential benefits be withdrawn post-Brexit, the vast majority would be forced back to the UK, where they would inevitably be seen as milking the system as they apply for other benefit entitlements not available overseas.

Should there by a Brexit transition period, the UK would remain subject to European Court of Justice rules for almost two full years, during which nothing would change and UK benefits would continue to be paid. Although the present draft agreement is far from perfect as it raises more questions than it’s answered, at least it would hopefully avoid a hard Brexit and allow time to ensure expats as well as UK residents get as close to a fair deal as possible as regards pensions and other allowances and payments. Unfortunately, in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal, all bets, including benefits, would be off.

At the same time, many expats as well as UK residents who are legally entitled to benefits are not receiving the right amounts, or any at all. In addition, they’re being told the UK does not pay benefits to Britons living outside the UK, a disgrace at best and devastating to would-be recipients at worst. For one point, decisions are legally made by officers after a claim has been submitted, not by DWP staff simply answering telephone calls from UK expats living abroad made to the office’s customer service line. Current legislation covers all such claims, and will continue to do so, backed up by European Commission rulings, until the end of any agreed transition period.
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