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“Ask a Benefits Question” in Home, Law & Money

Danny!Danny! modPosts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
I spent quite a lot of time over the last few months overhauling all the benefits content for the "Money" section of The Mix. It will go live in the next couple of weeks. Edit: it is now live!

I wrote a guide to claiming benefits a few years ago (don't use this now - the system's changed a lot in the past six years!), and have had personal experience too. And in updating all The Mix's content, I'm pretty on top of how everything works now.

So, we thought it might be useful to have a sort of "Ask a Benefits Question" thread here, where you can post benefits and tax credit questions (the systems are very different in different countries, so I can only answer UK questions).

I work here two days a week, so I might need three to four days to do give you an answer, depending on when you ask. (If it's urgent, you can find a local advice agency here).

It's often hard to be specific without a whole stack of details, but if you can give me the basic relevant details (such as age, benefits already claimed, where in the UK you live, work you do etc), then I can be more exact. Obviously don't post any details you're not comfortable with having public - you can ask generally or hypothetically.

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi, ill try to be brief.
    Job lost in November working tax credits not stopped till Januaray. Income support claimed jan. They wont backdate claim till Nov, only pay from Feb onwards. I have to pay back working tax credits from nov-jan so in my eyes either i shouldnt have to pay back wtc or they should backdate IS. Both are saying their decisions stand. Please advise
  • BubblesGoesBooBubblesGoesBoo Sunny ScotlandPosts: 3,535 Community Veteran
    My mam has never been able to work cause of her health, she used to get incapacity benefit but theyve stopped that and the job centre says she has to go on job seekers, but she has letters from the hospital, doctor and citizens advice place saying she is unable to work, but the council or government people whatever it is keep putting off giving her benefits saying she is 'able to work' any idea how to hurry it along?
    ' So I put a bullet where I shouda put a helmet, and I crash my car cause I wanna get carried away, that's why I'm standing on the overpass screaming at myself 'hey, I wanna get better''  
  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Listening Ear
    Thanks for your questions guys, Danny's next in the office tomorrow so will hopefully be able to pick up your questions then. :)
  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Listening Ear
    Also, just to say the new money section is live now, so lots of useful articles to get your teeth into!

    http://www.thesite.org/money
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    What level of income can one partner have if the other partner is on income-based ESA (support group) and on high rate DLA (both mobility and care) before a reduction is made to benefit? Are you only able to claim contribution based ESA for a year? What difference will universal credit actually make, and when will it actually come into place?
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    Hi, ill try to be brief.
    Job lost in November working tax credits not stopped till Januaray. Income support claimed jan. They wont backdate claim till Nov, only pay from Feb onwards. I have to pay back working tax credits from nov-jan so in my eyes either i shouldnt have to pay back wtc or they should backdate IS. Both are saying their decisions stand. Please advise

    Hi jamesmichelle8

    I'm sorry you lost your job. That does sound like a really difficult situation. I can see why you feel like that, but sadly benefits decisions aren't always based on logic!

    Unfortunately, you have to be working to be eligible for Working Tax Credits, so it's right that you're not eligible for Working Tax Credits from the point that you stopped working.

    With Income Support, there may be a possibility of challenging the decision not to backdate your claim. There are only certain reasons that are accepted as valid for backdating a benefits claim. For example if you have language difficulties, or if you were given advice by Jobcentre Plus or an advice worker which made you think that you wouldn't be entitled. The rules are set out pretty clearly on this page from the NHS.

    At minimum though, you should be paid Income Support from the date you made your claim if you were eligible then. I wonder why they won't pay until February. Might it be because you currently show as being on WTC in January? If you can show the DWP (who administer Income Support) that you were not eligible for WTC and are repaying them, then you should at least get paid from the date of your claim.

    If you need help writing an appeal, then I'd suggest you get in touch with your local CAB, or find another advice centre using TheSite's Local Advice Finder.

    Hope that helps!
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    My mam has never been able to work cause of her health, she used to get incapacity benefit but theyve stopped that and the job centre says she has to go on job seekers, but she has letters from the hospital, doctor and citizens advice place saying she is unable to work, but the council or government people whatever it is keep putting off giving her benefits saying she is 'able to work' any idea how to hurry it along?

    Hi BubblesGoesBoo

    That's a really tough situation, and one that a lot of people are in unfortunately.

    If she's had her Incapacity benefit stopped, it sounds like she had to go through a Work Capability Assessment and they decided that she's capable of work. You can challenge that decision, and a lot of appeals are successful. Has you mam challenged the decision?

    If she does want to appeal, I would suggest getting advice from your local CAB or other advice centre, as in my post above (I'll be saying that a lot in this thread!). That will help her to put together the best possible appeal.

    Is she claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) now, or is she still waiting for a decision about Incapacity benefit?
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    What level of income can one partner have if the other partner is on income-based ESA (support group) and on high rate DLA (both mobility and care) before a reduction is made to benefit? Are you only able to claim contribution based ESA for a year? What difference will universal credit actually make, and when will it actually come into place?

    Hi Miss_Riot

    There's a few questions there! It sounds like you might be checking out how your situation would be affected if you moved in with your partner?

    Simplest first: If you're in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG), then you can only Contribution Based ESA (CBESA) for one year. This doesn't apply if you're in the Support Group. After that year, you can make a claim for Income Based ESA (IBESA) if you meet the income criteria. Paragraph 15.1 on this page from Disability Rights sets it out well.

    DLA wouldn't be affected by a partner's income. The calculation for IBESA will be based on the government's set minimum level that a couple need to live on (assuming you live with your partner). This will be relatively low, and if the partner is working full-time you probably wouldn't be entitled to a means-tested benefit. It depends on a few things, I think the best way to test it out would be to use this benefits calculator. When you get to the end, you can go back and change details (such as partner's income), and see how it affects your entitlements (if your partner is working more but on a low income, it might be that they can claim Working Tax Credit).

    The full Universal Credit timetable is not clear yet (some people are on it already), but you would probably be moved from ESA to Universal Credit sometime between 2016 and 2018 (although a significant change of circumstances would make this earlier). IBESA but not CBESA will become part of Universal Credit. Much of the system will be the same, although you'll get paid monthly, and the general movement of the benefits system towards harsher assessments and conditionality might well continue.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    What level of income can one partner have if the other partner is on income-based ESA (support group) and on high rate DLA (both mobility and care) before a reduction is made to benefit? Are you only able to claim contribution based ESA for a year? What difference will universal credit actually make, and when will it actually come into place?

    You can earn up to £20 a week before ESA is affected.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Melian wrote: »
    You can earn up to £20 a week before ESA is affected.

    ESA informed me you can earn upto £100 before ESA is affected


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    BlondieLiz wrote: »
    ESA informed me you can earn upto £100 before ESA is affected


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Not quite. If you're a partner of someone on ESA, it's £20. For permitted work, you (the claimant) can earn up to £100 a week for 52 weeks.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Melian wrote: »
    Not quite. If you're a partner of someone on ESA, it's £20. For permitted work, you (the claimant) can earn up to £100 a week for 52 weeks.

    Ahh yeh getting muddled up!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • BubblesGoesBooBubblesGoesBoo Sunny ScotlandPosts: 3,535 Community Veteran
    theyve stopped incapacity benefit all together, for everyone ... she cant get jobseekers cause the doctor has put her down as unfit to work ... but the job centre says she can work so she can't get the benefit thats replacing incapacity ... shes put an appeal in but it's been going on for months, and shes not getting anything while it's ongoing
    ' So I put a bullet where I shouda put a helmet, and I crash my car cause I wanna get carried away, that's why I'm standing on the overpass screaming at myself 'hey, I wanna get better''  
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    BlondieLiz wrote: »
    Ahh yeh getting muddled up!

    Just to clarify on Permitted Work- there are two levels: the "lower limit" is £20 a week and can be earned indefinitely without affecting your ESA claim. The upper limit is currently £101 a week, which can be earned for 52 weeks, at which point you would have to decide whether to keep working and lose your ESA, or cut back down to the £20 a week for the next 52 weeks.

    The only exception is Supported Permitted Work where you can earn up to £101 a week indefinitely: "doing work as part of a treatment programme, or supervised by someone from a local council or voluntary organisation".

    It's a confusing system!
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    theyve stopped incapacity benefit all together, for everyone ... she cant get jobseekers cause the doctor has put her down as unfit to work ... but the job centre says she can work so she can't get the benefit thats replacing incapacity ... shes put an appeal in but it's been going on for months, and shes not getting anything while it's ongoing

    That is a really tough situation to be in - the system's not very sensible on this one I'm afraid.

    The benefit that's replaced Incapacity Benefit is called Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Everyone moving from Incapacity Benefit to ESA will be tested, and it sounds like your mum was found to be "fit to work" during this test.

    Before you can appeal this decision, you have to go through a "mandatory reconsideration", where they look at the decision again. During this period you can't claim ESA. However, she should be able to claim JSA with a change in the conditions that reflects her health issues. For example, while someone well and unemployed would have to be looking for full time work, it should be that your mum should be able to be signed on for JSA but only need to look for work limited types of work, for limited hours and in limited areas, depending on her health condition. This might well mean that in practice she doesn't find work, but she'll get JSA in the meantime.

    Once she receives a decision on the "mandatory reconsideration", then if she is still found "fit to work" she can appeal the decision. At this point, she'll be eligible to claim ESA for the rest of the appeal process, and so come off JSA again. This page explains the situation pretty well.

    She should also be able to claim help towards rent (if she rents) and Council Tax through all of this.

    It's really complicated this one, so I would really suggest getting to the CAB or anther advice centre with all the information you have, and getting their help to move forward.
  • BubblesGoesBooBubblesGoesBoo Sunny ScotlandPosts: 3,535 Community Veteran
    Danny! wrote: »
    That is a really tough situation to be in - the system's not very sensible on this one I'm afraid.

    The benefit that's replaced Incapacity Benefit is called Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Everyone moving from Incapacity Benefit to ESA will be tested, and it sounds like your mum was found to be "fit to work" during this test.

    Before you can appeal this decision, you have to go through a "mandatory reconsideration", where they look at the decision again. During this period you can't claim ESA. However, she should be able to claim JSA with a change in the conditions that reflects her health issues. For example, while someone well and unemployed would have to be looking for full time work, it should be that your mum should be able to be signed on for JSA but only need to look for work limited types of work, for limited hours and in limited areas, depending on her health condition. This might well mean that in practice she doesn't find work, but she'll get JSA in the meantime.

    Once she receives a decision on the "mandatory reconsideration", then if she is still found "fit to work" she can appeal the decision. At this point, she'll be eligible to claim ESA for the rest of the appeal process, and so come off JSA again. This page explains the situation pretty well.

    She should also be able to claim help towards rent (if she rents) and Council Tax through all of this.

    It's really complicated this one, so I would really suggest getting to the CAB or anther advice centre with all the information you have, and getting their help to move forward.


    Thanks :) i know she's tried looking for work cause she doesnt like being stuck inside all day but no where will take her on cause of her health ... we dont have to pay rent cause of the household income ... but managed to get a meeting with the CAB on thursday :)
    ' So I put a bullet where I shouda put a helmet, and I crash my car cause I wanna get carried away, that's why I'm standing on the overpass screaming at myself 'hey, I wanna get better''  
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    ... but managed to get a meeting with the CAB on thursday :)

    Glad you've got a CAB appointment :) There's a useful page here on what to take with you when you go and see them.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've got a question. First time in a while I've actually needed advice!

    My brother and sister in-law have just had a baby. My brother is self employed, my sister in-law is on maternity leave. She is intending to go back to work soon. His salary is unknown, I don't think he's turning a profit yet. Her full time salary is £28,000 but she will be going part time. What benefits, if any will she be entitled to in order to help with the costs of child care???
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    Whowhere wrote: »
    I've got a question. First time in a while I've actually needed advice!

    My brother and sister in-law have just had a baby. My brother is self employed, my sister in-law is on maternity leave. She is intending to go back to work soon. His salary is unknown, I don't think he's turning a profit yet. Her full time salary is £28,000 but she will be going part time. What benefits, if any will she be entitled to in order to help with the costs of child care???

    Hi Whowhere

    If they qualify for Working Tax Credit, then that has a childcare element.

    That's exciting! I hope you're enjoying having a niece/nephew.

    To make sure they get everything they're entitled to, I'd suggest they read this "benefits for families and children" page from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

    This benefits calculator will give an estimate of what support they might be entitled to, and how much.

    And sites like Netmums have information as well as very active forums about childcare and other issues relating to families - it might be worth your brother and sister in-law having a look on there.

    Hope that helps!
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