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Benefits & Distance Learning

SMW83 Member Posts: 97 Courageous

I am currently in receipt of PIP and ESA owing to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Agoraphobia, Depression & Anxiety.

Last July I underwent reassessment for these benefits, where they were cut substantially as I (supposedly) no longer fit the descriptors (in spite of my illness worsening since initially being awarded the benefits). After almost 9 months of appalling treatment by the DWP, much legal wrangling and the matter being taken to court, my benefits were reinstated in full.

As someone who is relatively cognisant and who is usually able to deal with such issues, this took a tremendous toll on me and my health having to undertake such a tortuous and distressing process so I can only imagine the distress and anguish it causes those who are unable to deal with such matters. Since my 'win' I have decided that I want to be able to help those who find themselves in a similar situation that I did and begin an online law course through Open University (as my illnesses mean I am virtually housebound).

However, I cannot find any information on undertaking education whilst on PIP and ESA and would also need to take a student loan to cover the cost of the course. Does anyone have any information they could provide with regards to this or advise if this would have an effect on my benefits and such, whilst I am 'recovering'?

Thanks in advance.


  • WheelyRachel
    WheelyRachel Member Posts: 64 Courageous
    Well studying will not effect your PIP just as it didn't with DLA.
    i do think however that ESA maybe slightly effected.
    You should be able to get a disable abbirsary grant to help with study costs. 
  • Abnoba
    Abnoba Member Posts: 14 Listener

    It may not affect your benefits, but as you well know if they think that you can study... also ask the Open Uni re the issue or you can call a Disability officer at another university and ask for advice.

    Post your query on this site, and check for similar queries: - Good luck!
  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering
    Hi SMW83,

    You can get PIP whilst studying. Part-time study doesn't affect ESA at all. If you're studying full time and you get PIP, then you can still get income-related ESA, but as WheelyRachel says, your ESA can be affected if you are eligible for a student loan (income-related ESA is reduced to reflect the student loan). 

    Contribution-based ESA isn't affected by studying or by student finance.

    A disabled student's allowance doesn't affect your benefit at all, but the student loan does.

    Abnoba is right to point out that sometimes, if your study leads the DWP to question whether you have limited capability for work, that can be an issue. However, looking at your conditions, the fact you've opted for distance learning seems to me to back up the fact that you continue to fit the descriptors, and that would be the thing to argue (distance learning doesn't require you to travel, or engage with people etc).

    If you are based in England, you could try chatting to the Disability Rights UK students' helpline if you want to talk this through further, and find out more about how the student loan affects your ESA. 

    Hope this helps.

    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland


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