PIP, DLA and AA
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Having a nightmare: DLA/PIP when my son is at boarding school

amamcamamc Member Posts: 4 Listener
Hi. 
My son (now 17) has attended a boarding school (for children with specific learning difficulties) as a weekly boarder since Sept 2014. During this whole period he qualified for DLA (care component) and has now been moved to PIP (also care component). I did not understand that there were rules around attending a boarding school funded by LEA.  I have provided DWP with all the dates of when he was at school and at home since Sept 2014 - a lot of information considering he comes home every Friday/ school holidays etc! After months of silence they have written a letter to me that i can only describe as utter gibberish (it would win an award, and I'm considering sending a copy to David Gauke, DWP Secretary of State!). Anyway, I really need two things: 1) the rules relating to this clearly explained to me (DWP doesn't seem to provide any explanation) and 2) I may well need expert help as I do not trust DWP to be able to handle the amount of data and recalculation that they will have to make to work out potential overpayment of DLA and now underpayment of PIP (which they have stopped altogether since Feb). 

Any pointers on these two issues would be very welcome! 

Replies

  • CockneyRebelCockneyRebel Member Posts: 5,257 Disability Gamechanger
    I would suggest that you ring the help line or get local trained help ie. CAB

    CR
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • sonal_scopesonal_scope Member Posts: 7
    Hello,

    I wanted to let you know that Scope has benefit advisers who may be able to help you with this. You can call us on the Helpline Tel: 0808 800 3333 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and we may be able to book you into a benefit clinic.

    Hope this helps
     
    Sonal - Helpline Information officer 
  • amamcamamc Member Posts: 4 Listener
    will do - thanks
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    amamc,

    The rules are as follows. I'll start with your question about state-funded boarding school.

    A residential school can prevent benefit being paid, for the purposes of the DLA care component and the PIP daily living component. The general rules is that these components are not payable after 28 days. Because your son was at home every weekend, as well as school holidays, you are quite right that there is a complicated calculation to be carried out to check the amount of any overpayment, as as suggested above, a CAB could help (ideally, you need to work with someone you can see in person so that you can show them the terrible DWP letter!)

    If your son was awarded DLA before he went away to school, it would have continued for up to 28 days. But given he comes home at weekends, it's only the days which count as being at school which add to the 28 days (and the law says that the day he leaves and returns home is a day at home). So it would have taken a while for DLA to stop. You could also still be paid (at a daily rate) for the days he is back at home. Furthermore, if he spent at least 29 days at home (which he must have done in some holidays), the 'link' is broken and the 28 days before he next loses DLA has to start again when he returns to school.

    Looking at your second question, I'd also advise that an overpayment of PIP or DLA is only recoverable if you failed to disclose or misrepresented something that you could reasonably have been expected to know about. It may be worth thinking about what information the DWP gave you when your son first claimed DLA and later PIP. Was it ever made clear to you that the residential school could count as being in 'residential care' and that there were rules around this? You only have a duty to disclose if the DWP made you aware that you had to tell them about this type of thing. There is also a general duty about disclosing things you could 'reasonably be expected to know' would affect benefit, but given your son came home so often, you might be able to argue you couldn't be reasonably expected to know about the linking rules, unless they were explained to you in some paperwork you were sent.

    If the DWP can't show that you failed to disclose something you were told to tell them, or could reasonably be expected to tell them, then the overpayment is not recoverable. You can challenge recoverability of the overpayment, and this is separate to challenging the amount. But in both cases, you should ask for a mandatory reconsideration within one month of the decision, if you can. 

    In other words, please don't assume you have to pay anything back. It will depend on all the facts.

    It's also clear that as regards PIP, you son must be entitled to some at a daily rate, at a minimum (in fact I think more, as presumably he was at home all summer?) The DWP may have suspended benefit which they do have the power to do whilst they gather information. But if you've told them everything they could possibly need to know you could complain, saying the suspension is unreasonable. Or if they have actually disallowed the benefit (terminated it), you would need to make a late request for a mandatory reconsideration or possibly claim again.

    As Sonal suggests, I hope that you can get booked in to discuss with a benefits adviser because you are clearly missing out on money that you are due now, and potentially you should not have repay anyway, depending on what literature the DWP originally sent you.


    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • amamcamamc Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Hello will

    Thank you for your incredibly useful reply. On your point about what I should reasonably have known, I've reviewed the paperwork they sent me and it does say on page page 4 of the standard 8 page letter that i should tell them about move to a special school, which i stupidly scaned over and associated with the lengthier sections about going into a hospital or care home. And then of course when you are used to getting the standard letter you don't re-read it. It doesn't help that in much of their communications (e.g. the latest letter i have received) they use the term 'care home' as a short cut for, as they say themselves, 'a residential care home, a nursing home, a residential college or school or somewhat like this'. I also note that on gov.uk the terminology is equally focused on hospital or care home setting (https://www.gov.uk/pip/change-of-circumstances). So it is possible that my case is weak on this point? 

    On the other issue about stopping PIP. As I said, my son has not been paid any PIP since he first qualified for it back in February. This feels like an excessively long time. I have phoned and been told my case is in a queue, and because of the problem with the overpayment I didn't really want to push it. But is this amount of delay reasonable? It feels like they are delaying on looking at the PIP dates until they sort out the DLA overpayment: is this allowed? 

    many thanks again 

    arabella 
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    amamc

    Hi Arabella,

    I do agree that the info is very much focused on hospital and care homes, but unfortunately if you had literature that mentioned a school, it's going to be difficult to argue that you weren't informed. I do think they could do a lot better at telling parents about this - it's not as if your situation is unusual.

    Re suspending PIP since February - unfortunately, there's nothing specific about how long they can suspend payment in situations like this. But you could certainly complain that they have had all the information about the dates he was at school and at home, and have had plenty of time to work out his entitlement by now. I'm not sure at what point you gave them the info, but there is no reason for them to have to sort out the DLA overpayment first, no. 

    It must be clear by now that this was a genuine mistake on your part, and there's no need to suspend PIP based on any other suspicions. You've been very upfront about the information they need. So I'd complain, and maybe consider going to your MP too, as clearly your son is entitled to a PIP award, even if it is one that stops and starts according to the rules above.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • amamcamamc Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Many thanks. Having just had a go at working out the overpayment dates it look like that in fact its not nearly as bad as i feared; i feel confident enough to call them tomorrow!
  • SunshineLouSunshineLou Member Posts: 93 Pioneering
    Hi @amamc My son is residential Mon-Fri only too.
    I call the DWP every few weeks and give them the dates he’s boarding. When I call they then release the payment for his care element. We also get Mobility for him which we don’t have to call about.
    He’s just about to switch to PIP so not sure what happens after that. A friends of mine’s son boards full time and she said she has to pay his PIP to the residential place he lives in. Not sure if it works the same way where I live (Dorset) but I’m sure I’ll find out soon!

    My son is also going full time soon and not sure what will happen then. Trying to find out right now.

    Hope that helps you a little?

    Lou x
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