To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Housing Benefit and State Pension Credit (Temporary Absence) (Amendment) Regulations 2016, how his Department defines the term medically approved treatment or care for persons temporarily absent from than UK for more than four weeks; and whether that definition extends to domiciliary care provided by non-professionals when that care is endorsed by a GP or consultant.
Regulation 3(3) of the State Pension Credit Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/1792) provides that Pension Credit may continue for up to 26 weeks notwithstanding a temporary absence from Great Britain where the absence is in connection with medical treatment by, or under the supervision of, a qualified practitioner or where the absence is in order to undergo medically approved convalescence. The regulation defines “qualified practitioner” as meaning a person “qualified to provide medical treatment” and “medically approved” is defined as meaning “certified by a registered medical practitioner”. Therefore in cases where a person has gone abroad to undergo convalescence, it has to be certified by a registered medical practitioner and the absence should not be expected to exceed 26 weeks.
Guidance on the Pension Credit Temporary Absence rules can be seen here.
Regulation 7(16) of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/213) and the Housing Benefit (Persons who have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/214) provide a similar 26 week absence rule for Housing Benefit. Medically approved is defined in regulation 7(18) of those Regulations, as “certified by a medical practitioner”. Further guidance is at paragraphs 3.541 to 3.543 Chapter A3 of the Housing Benefit Guidance manual. In particular, paragraphs 3.542 and 3.543 give guidance on who might be providing care, and where.