Fined for dental treatment whilst in receipt of state benefits

If you are approaching retirement and are in receipt of state benefits, the transition into pension status might not be as seamless as it first appears. Let my expensive mismanagement of the experience act as a warning to the un-informed. 

Back in the days of school, our classroom clown would ask of the teacher, in mock apprehensiveness, “Sir…..would you punish me for something I hadn’t done, sir?

The predictable reply came, in a stop wasting my time tone, “of course not boy”……and then came the class clown’s punchline, greeted with peals of laughter; “Well Sir, I haven’t done my homework sir”.

My £382 punishment for accessing dental treatment to which I was entitled (£100 fine, £282 reimbursement) hasn’t left a smile on my face.

I’m writing this to warn others to clarify their status and to make a HC1 claim which, if accepted, entitles free dental and eye-care treatment. If you are included in an award of Pension Credit (Savings Credit) paid on its own, the NHS does not cover the cost of dental treatment.

I wrongly assumed that my entitlement to these services (dental treatment, the cost of spectacles) would be automatically carried over in the transition to state pension. I also wrongly assumed that the agency (Business Services Authority) would take account of the fact that when my dental appointment was made, I hadn’t yet become a pensioner. 

91 per cent of their Trust Pilot reviews are negative, accusing the service of targeting “the most vulnerable in society for genuine mistakes”.

Certainly, their appeal process is very much black and white, brooking no consideration of individual circumstances. Because the collection agency accepted in my case, there was no ‘malice aforethought’. So, what useful purpose, I wondered, was served by fining me £100?

The £100 fine, I was told, was built into the legislation. I could have accepted my fate with more grace if I thought the authorities pursued tax dodgers and their like with a similar intractable assiduousness.

The message is; be warned, stay informed.

Niall McGuinness

Have you been in a similar situation?

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