Severe Mental Impairment - a specific set of circumstances

My mum has been has been in receipt of attendance allowance since September 2016. Her Psychiatrist has just confirmed that he will certify her as meeting Severe Mental Impairment requirements from the date of her dementia diagnosis in late 2016.

Firstly, From then to 1st December 2017, she continued to live alone with me coming in daily to care for her. During this time she paid her normal council tax with the 25% single person discount. I now believe that for this period, she could have been disregarded for council tax and the house rated as if empty.

Q1 - What if any, should the correct SMI discount rate be for this period.

Q2 – Do I correctly understand that any such discount can be backdated and refunded?

Secondly, from 1st Dec 2017 to present, I have had to move in for the sole purpose of caring for mum 24/7. I receive Carers Allowance, am recognised by our LA as her carer and have had a carers assessment which indicates multiple eligible needs. During this period, mum’s attendance allowance has been upgraded to the full rate due to nighttime care needs.

Q3 – Am I correct in thinking that in these circumstances, I am disregarded for the purpose of assessment of mum’s council tax and therefore, what if any should the discount rate be for this period?

And finally, in order to come to care for mum, I have had to vacate my own house which I was occupying as a single person. However, I have kept my own property as my registered address and although I have my self employed business registered there, I work remotely from mum’s. My house remains furnished and throughout this entire period I have continued to pay my full council tax at the 25% single person’s discount rate. I continue to garage my car there (because I’m unable to keep it at mum’s) and return to fetch the car if I need it, collect my post, do security checks and when I have sitters for mum, to do basic maintenance – cut lawns etc.

Q4 – On the basis that I have moved out solely for the purpose of caring for mum, can I claim a class J exemption for my own council tax and if so, what rate should the discount be?

Q5 - Does a means test apply to a class J exemptions or is that at the particular LA’s discretion?

I’m wondering if any other carers are in the same circumstances and if anyone can give a definitive answer to how the rules apply in this very specific set of circumstances?

Thank you.

Mum should definitely be exempt from the day of diagnosis, it should be backdated. My son has severe learning difficulties, lives alone, pays nothing. He is EXEMPT.

I don’t know so much about the carers exemption, have a look at the dot gov site.

Hi Martin.

Council Tax Discounts ?

AGE UK for those … pretty general but useful :

Council Tax Reduction - Who can apply? | Age UK

( BB’s pont on SMI confirmed :

Could I be exempt from paying Council Tax?

You won’t pay Council Tax if:

you live in a care home or hostel.

your home is unoccupied and empty (up to 6 months), for example, if you’ve gone into hospital.

you have, or you live with someone who has, a severe mental impairment (e.g. dementia).
Talk to your local authority about your eligibility and how you can apply for an exemption. )

Given the complexity , my immediate thought was expert advice … CAB and / or the Carers UK Advice Team.

( Finally / Q4 / Q5 … earlier ones fairly clear cut. )

Links follow for both … CUK Advice Team best by email :

Short of doing Internet searches ourselves , and then posting what we find would be the only other alternative.

I do not know whether all LAs take the same attitude within the guidelines out there.


Thank you both for your helpful replies. I will follow up on your advice and post on the outcome in due course in case anyone else is in the same scenario.


Your welcome … and readers will welcome news of your endeavours … it will assist many !

I call the SMI one of the “best kept secrets” as far as benefits etc are concerned. Lots of council staff don’t know about it, or deny it can be backdated. It’s really important that we all share information about it. It can mean over £2,000 a year can be saved, especially in an area like the New Forest where I live.

I totally agree and it sits nicely alongside the other best kept secret, Continuing Health Care (CHC) but all the malarky and skullduggery that goes on with that is for another day and another thread. I will be posting on that in due course though.

Back to SMI, just to let you know that I did take the advice offered and put this query to the Advice Team. Based on the circumstances I described, it seems sure that mum will qualify for the disregard (i.e. full 100% discount) for the period where she was SMI but still living alone and both of us disregarded (i.e. 50% discount) after I moved in for the sole purpose of caring for her.

Then I think the logic is that if they regard me as living with mum and take 50% of the discount away, they can’t then say I’m living at my place as well. The advice is that as long as health professionals, social services, neigbours etc. vouch for me living with mum full time then the fact that my own house is still my registered address, is still furnished and I still garage my car there, should not prevent me from getting a 100% class J exemption.

It would not surprise me in the least however knowing how our local authority work that they will attempt to weedle out of it but I shall stand my ground and argue the case. Whether there are set rules to cover this exact set of circumstances or whether it is something where local discretion comes into play remains to be seen.

No doubt it will take a while to get there but I will post on the outcome in due course.

Thanks to all of you for your responses :slight_smile:

Success :slight_smile:

Just to let you know that my claim has been accepted. So, I have been grated a Class J disregard on my house which I moved out of to care for my mum, even though it is fully furnished and is still my registered address. I made sure to make a full and honest disclosure of the facts re the status of my house. This has netted me £1840 backdated to when I moved out plus no further council tax to pay.

Then, at the same time my mum gets the SMI disregard, backdated from the date of her diagnosis. This is at 50% because of course I have moved in with her. It would be 100% if she lived alone.

It is worth repeating that as disregards, these are not means tested. I know some people have had LAs trying to claim they are.

So, a great result. I would like to thank the Carers UK advice service for their advice and also to those who responded to my original post. Thank you also to my local AgeUK branch who gave me a local perspective on my claim.

Good luck to anyone else making claims.

Your welcome.

We’ll all have a virtual drink on you.

Given our average income , we get used to virtual drinks !

Hooray, I’m so pleased for you. Thanks for sharing this with us.

A good result, and good information which will help others too :smiley: