Universal Credit
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ESA to UC (possibly studying)

siobhan1siobhan1 Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
Hi everyone

I'm looking for some advice with regards to my current situation and also a potential change in circumstances in the near future.

I stopped working last month due to my illness progressing to the point where I couldn't manage in my call centre job. I recieve PIP at the moment with an ongoing award until 2028. My partner cares for me full time and helps me to get from my wheelchair to the bathroom etc so he is unable to look for work at the moment. I recently started claiming ESA C with IR top up, plus HB. I know I can't predict the future but I have reason to believe a paper based assessment is being done regards to ESA and if all goes well I should be put in support group due to needing to use powered wheelchair to mobilise at all and also bladder disease I'm having treatment for so I would meet the support group descriptors.

I have a few questions regarding my current claim(s) and also studying as a disabled student. I can't find answers anywhere. I would appreciate any help whatsoever and sorry for the long post.

1. When I do benefit calculations I am told my partner should claim IS as we would get more money but this means I don't get NI contributions and when we moved to UC I wouldn't have any LCW/LCWRA as I wouldn't have been assessed. Have I done things the correct way in claiming ESA rather than IS?

2. My area goes live for UC this week. I am told we are moving over in around March. When I do a UC calc it only shows the amount that I am receiving now as an ESA IR top up. Will my ESA C payment continue as new style ESA or will I have to apply for both UC and new style ESA at the time. Will I have to apply at all or do both get transferred automatically? I haven't a clue how it works! I know I'm worrying in advance but I get anxious. 

3. All of my qualifications are in an area of expertise that I physically can't work in any more. I have occupational qualifications but I want to complete a degree or college course in something practical like textiles so I can maybe work for myself one day if I can't commit to job due to fluctuations. I have ideas but no skills and want to learn. I would struggle to get into uni or college and both the local ones said I could study a lot at home or my carer could attend when I absolutely have to go in and I know there's support through DSA etc. I would be a mature disabled student. I know that with ESA I would have LCW due to studies but how does this work with UC? I would need the ESA IR claim to be open for HB (UC housing costs) purposes. I am aware that student grants are classed as income and that's fine. It's just the housing costs I will struggle with. I can't find anything at all about UC and disabled students online, except to say that disabled students no longer have automatic LCW. If I get put in the support group for ESA in the next few months, and subsequently move over to UC with LCRA before July. Would I be able to attend uni or college in September part time, and still have housing costs paid under UC?

The is in advance for any help :)

Replies

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    That's a lot to go through but i'll try to help. You mention that you're claiming CB ESA with an Income related top up and this is the part that's confusing me, so a few questions first.

    What benefits is your partner claiming?
    Are you claiming ESA as a couple?
    Does your partner claim carers allowance for looking after you?
    What PIP award do you currently have?
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • siobhan1siobhan1 Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi,

    That's a lot to go through but i'll try to help. You mention that you're claiming CB ESA with an Income related top up and this is the part that's confusing me, so a few questions first.

    What benefits is your partner claiming?
    Are you claiming ESA as a couple?
    Does your partner claim carers allowance for looking after you?
    What PIP award do you currently have?
    Sorry for the confusion! I used to work for DWP although I don't have recent knowledge of benefits and I still use the same terms I'm used to.

    I'm getting my entitlement to contribution based ESA. Then also getting IR ESA due to having a partner who is not working.

    At the moment my partner gets CA for looking after me. I claim ESA C + IR on behalf of us both and I also get enhanced PIP both components.

    Thank you for replying and any help you can offer.
  • siobhan1siobhan1 Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    I am really sorry for being confusing. I know I dont have two seperate ESA claims I just get into the habit of separating the components in my mind as I know I would still get ESA C if my partner worked but not the income related part so in my mind they're separate things in one payment. Hope that makes sense.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Ok so you're claiming ESA as a couple which means it's income related and not Contributions based with an income related top up. You can't claim Contributions based as a couple, it's always income related. ESA assessment rate for couples is £114.85 per week and you should also be receiving the Enhanced disability premium on top, which is £23.55 per week because you have a Enhanced daily living PIP award.

    As he's claiming Carers allowance for looking after you then this is deducted from your ESA and a carers premium is added, carers allowance then pay him the £64.30 per week. The amount of ESA you should be claiming per week is £110.10 per week for you both and then there's the carers allowance paid separately. This will be increased if you're placed into the Support Group.

    You will get your NI credits paid by ESA and your partner will get them paid by carers allowance. He can't claim IS because you're claiming ESA as a couple.

    As you're claiming income related ESA as a couple then any student loan you receive will be counted as income £1 for £1 for your ESA claim, like wise for the housing benefit claim.

    Now for UC. Those that are currently claiming the legacy benefits such as ESA and housing benefit will not have to move to UC until at least 2019 and quite possible much later than that for a lot of people, unless a change of circumstances prompts a move in the meantime. So i wouldn't worry about moving to UC yet, even when your area does become a full UC area you won't be moved across at that point.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    What may have been better for the future, with your thoughts on college is that you could have claimed Contributions based ESA by yourself and your partner claim Income support because he claims carers allowance for looking after you. Doing it this way would have meant any Student loans you receive in the future wouldn't count as income for your ESA and you would have kept all of the payment for this.

    Any student loan of course would affect the Income Support and housing benefit but not the carers allowance. You probably wouldn't have been any better off now, but the future you would have been slightly better off. Those benefits are a nightmare to fully understand.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • siobhan1siobhan1 Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Ok so you're claiming ESA as a couple which means it's income related and not Contributions based with an income related top up. You can't claim Contributions based as a couple, it's always income related. ESA assessment rate for couples is £114.85 per week and you should also be receiving the Enhanced disability premium on top, which is £23.55 per week because you have a Enhanced daily living PIP award.

    As he's claiming Carers allowance for looking after you then this is deducted from your ESA and a carers premium is added, carers allowance then pay him the £64.30 per week. The amount of ESA you should be claiming per week is £110.10 per week for you both and then there's the carers allowance paid separately. This will be increased if you're placed into the Support Group.

    You will get your NI credits paid by ESA and your partner will get them paid by carers allowance. He can't claim IS because you're claiming ESA as a couple.

    As you're claiming income related ESA as a couple then any student loan you receive will be counted as income £1 for £1 for your ESA claim, like wise for the housing benefit claim.

    Now for UC. Those that are currently claiming the legacy benefits such as ESA and housing benefit will not have to move to UC until at least 2019 and quite possible much later than that for a lot of people, unless a change of circumstances prompts a move in the meantime. So i wouldn't worry about moving to UC yet, even when your area does become a full UC area you won't be moved across at that point.
    Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it. We are definitely getting everything that we should be entitled to at the moment.

    I've not been able to get an online calc to work out the ESA entitlement so I'm most grateful for that as you've worked it out as exactly what we are getting. I was using benefit calculators (Turn2US, and Policy in Practise) both advise us that my partner should be claiming IS as a couple on the basis that he cannot look for work due to caring (as this would pay more than ESA in my name)... it says "we have worked out yohr entitlement to income support rather than ESA as it pays more...Yet the way I worked it out is if I cancelled my ESA claim for my partner to claim IS for a couple more ££s per week I would lose out on any NI credits until we move to UC joint claim. Hope that makes sense.

    Do you know whether disabled students can claim UC for housing costs if they do have LCWRA? Just thinking about the future as I don't want to get halfway through a degree and not be able to complete it as it would be soul destroying. I've been out on bladder treatment for the rest of my life due to urge incontinence (sorry TMI) and I'm probably being highly presumptuous but I know that an EP wheelchair doesn't count as an aid so I don't worry too much about the support group/LCWRA side of things unless something goes terribly wrong!

    I'm glad to hear the transfer to UC won't be as soon as I thought then. My ESA award drops in amount from beginning of March and when I called to query it i was told that it was due to a change in income. My previous PIP award runs to July and apparently the new one is open from June 2018 with no end date so I know it's not PIP. It's definitely not carers allowance that will be changing as that's ongoing. I asked what the change in my income is and they said I would be moving over to UC at that point so would have to claim new style ESA. Wondering if they really didn't know and just made something up now 😄 


  • siobhan1siobhan1 Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    What may have been better for the future, with your thoughts on college is that you could have claimed Contributions based ESA by yourself and your partner claim Income support because he claims carers allowance for looking after you. Doing it this way would have meant any Student loans you receive in the future wouldn't count as income for your ESA and you would have kept all of the payment for this.

    Any student loan of course would affect the Income Support and housing benefit but not the carers allowance. You probably wouldn't have been any better off now, but the future you would have been slightly better off. Those benefits are a nightmare to fully understand.
    Sorry didn't see this reply. This makes a lot of sense. I probably should have done this and with UC going live in the next few days there's not much point changing my circumstances now. Thank you very much for your help
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited October 2018
    No problem. I thought i may have been right.

    You won't be able to claim Income support in your name because you're not the one claiming the carers allowance, it would be in your partners name. You're right about the NI credits, DWP wouldn't pay yours if you claimed Income support.

    I have no idea what DWP mean by a change of income in March, that's a long way off. They wouldn't calculate a UC amount because they're different benefits and you haven't claimed that yet and of course you won't move across when your area becomes a full UC area either. 

    If you're placed into the Support Group you're ESA will increase from the 14th week of your claim. If it takes longer than that to make a decision then and it's Support Group then you'll be backdated to the 14th week of your claim. WRAG there's no extra money for this group because your claim started after April 2017.

    UC and students. Students can claim UC if they claim a disability benefit like PIP. They can also claim the housing element BUT as UC is a means tested benefit then any maintenance loan you do have will be counted as income.



    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
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