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Universal Credit LCWWRA case "withdrawn" by CHDAUK

rednaxrednax Member Posts: 25 Connected
edited December 2019 in Universal Credit
I'm part way through my application process to be put in the LCWWRA support group and have now reached the end of the first three months of the doctor's fitness note, and have today sent the next three month fit note to the JS. I have a small part time home income of around £200 per month, and was previously given help via housing benefit, income support and tax credits.  When I moved house last year I had to restart my claim, and was told I had to do it through universal credit.  

For the last 12 months I have been declaring my small income and as a self employed person I have been in receipt of a "start up" 12 month universal credit allowance to top up my income. In September I was advised that I would soon be assumed to be earning a full time wage at the national minimum wage known as the "minimum income floor" regardless of my actual income.  That 12 month period ended in September. Since then I was advised that I would need to formally register my disability moving forward, and as such supplied the appropriate fit note from my doctor detailing my conditions, medication and the indefinite nature that is unlikely to change in the future. All of the relevant forms were completed in September and I've been waiting to hear back since then. 



In chasing this up I sent several messages through the UC portal and also contacted the CHDAUK by email who were in receipt of my completed UC50 form around two months ago. 

CHDAUK said the following:

According to notes on the referral system, your case has been closed with us and returned to the DWP for advice on how to progress your referral. regards

I replied to them asking for details of what this meant and then received the following response:

Your case was withdrawn on the 26th November. You will need to contact the benefit office dealing with your case to query the current state of your referral.

Today I logged into my UC account to see if there were any messages regarding this and found that my next payment due in 6 days has dropped from £1020 to £268 and I am suddenly subject to the minimum income floor for self employed. Previously I was in receipt of housing benefit but it doesn't seem to exist any more now that I have been moved to UC. 

It was only by logging into my UC account today in the hope that my claim was to be awarded to then see I have even less money than an unemployed person on universal credit. 

I have tried several Universal Credit telephone numbers today, all of which advise me that UC claims are now dealt with online-only. The one person I managed to get through to on a related number said that she didn't have access to my account or payments. 

So I'm struggling to understand what all of this means. Given the fact that my payment has dropped by 80% (which I only discovered by chance upon logging into my UC account) and I have only 6 days left until my rent is due, does this look like my claim has been rejected? Should I have received some kind of correspondence by now?

It's the wording from the CHDAUK emails which worry me. In one they say that the case is closed and returned to the DWP for advice on how to progress, then the next email the following day says the case has been withdrawn. Any ideas what that means? Two emails from two different people using very different language. One gives me the impression that they have done their part and sent the results back to the DWP, the other gives me the impression my claim has been rejected, yet no one has contacted me about this. 

I can't believe that my payments would be dropped like this without some form of correspondence, even if just a message through the online universal credit account. Had I not been checking it daily and chasing up emails I would be completely unaware of this drop in payments, but as it stands I have been checking, and so I now have 6 days until my rent is due (the same day as my UC payment) to try and figure this out with one side (CHDAUK) telling me to speak to "the benefit office", and Universal Credit having no form of correspondence other than the online portal I have already posted in. I sent messages to my "work coach" and "payments", but they all unanswered. No online comms, no written response, no telephone numbers able to deal with the matter. 

Does any of this make sense to anyone else, and any guidance on what to do next? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, but I refuse to believe that I should just sit here and wait for the DWP to write to me in the online portal, I can't believe they don't deal over the telephone anymore!

Many thanks in advance of any assistance that can be provided.  

Replies

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

    Have you missed a work capability assessment? If this happens then your file will be returned to DWP and they'll find you fit for work. This is the only thing that i can think of that it could be. CHDA wouldn't know if you've been found fit for work but they will know if you've not attended an assessment. My advice would be ring them (CHDA) again tomorrow morning and ask this question.

    May i also ask why you waited a year to send in those fit notes to start off the limited capability for work process?

    I'm not sure why you've been told that UC is only dealt with online because that's not true. The phone number to ring is 0800 328 5644. I'd advise you to try again tomorrow at 8 when they open.

    The reason why your UC payment is so low is because you're subject to the MIF. This means that even though you only earn £200 per month, UC work out your entitlement as if you're working 35 hours x NMW, which significantly reduces your monthly UC payment. This will reduce your whole UC payment, including your housing element.

    It's very difficult to guess what exactly is going on because we are not DWP and the only thing i can suggest is to try ringing again tomorrow and hopefully this time you'll have some answers as to what exactly is going on. Good luck and i'm sorry i couldn't give you any answers. Do let us know the outcome.

    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.
  • rednaxrednax Member Posts: 25 Connected
    edited December 2019
    Hi, thank you for taking the time to reply.
     
    No, I've not been asked to attend an assessment. Once I completed the online process in the universal credit portal I was told to supply a fit note by my "work coach". At the same time as supplying the fit note I supplied a completed UC50 form which he passed on to the relevant CHDA address. I checked with them in early October that they had received it, and they confirmed they had.   

    I was originally in receipt of housing benefit as a self employed person and I was required to send three-monthly income/expenditure updates to the council in order to continue receiving housing benefit, which I had been in receipt of since 2010. The council was aware of my condition and there were no problems until I moved home (to lower my rental payments). I was then told that I had to make a new claim, and that it must be for universal credit. 

    The advisor said I could get some universal credit as a self employed person and would not be subject to the new minimum income floor for a year, the hope was to see if I could get myself up to a self-supporting income level. It increased a little, but not by much. At the end of the 12 months my "work coach" said that I should formalise my disability and move into the LCWRA support group. I filled in all of the paperwork and confirm that it was received in September along with the initial 3 month fit note.

    For the last two months I have been in receipt of a full universal credit not subject to the minimum income floor, so I have now not been subject to it for 14 months, as opposed to the standard 12 months. 

    That's where I am today, suddenly having the minimum income floor applied without warning, with no response to my LCWRA claim other than a reply to my email from CHDA saying the case was closed, and then a further email telling me the case has been withdrawn. 

    As I've already stated there is no longer a universal credit telephone number for existing claims, or claims in progress. This appears to have been new and rolled out over the last 2 months as I have had no problems contacting them on any of their numbers before. Their numbers are now only available for new claims. 
  • rednaxrednax Member Posts: 25 Connected
    edited December 2019
    For example, call this number provided in my online universal credit account (freephone) and listen to the recorded message:
    0800 328 9344

    It goes on to state that we should call the number you have provided (0800 328 5644) if we are having problems setting up our online account. When I called this number I was told it was a number for new claims or resetting online access only. I was put on hold for 22 minutes after explaining my situation to the advisor only for them to come back and say that they have no access to my payments or history, and that I should instead message my work coach through the online account. That is exactly what I have done, both to my "work coach" and via the messaging option in the payments section, but am no closer to getting any information. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    It's difficult to advise because no one here will know the reasons why your file has been sent back to DWP and the only ones that will know why is DWP.

    I'm not sure why you're saying that there's no longer a phone number for existing claims because people have rang them and spoken to their case manager through my advice and this has been as recent as less than 1 week ago.

    I'm not sure what advice anyone else can give you here but i'll tag a member of the admin team who will hopefully see this tomorrow morning. @Adrian_Scope could you give any advice about contacting UC, other than a message on the journal please?
    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.
  • Joanne_ScopeJoanne_Scope Scope helpline, Scope adviser Posts: 190 Pioneering
    Hi @rednax,

    The number that @poppy123456 has given you (0800 328 5644) is definitely a helpline number and not just for new claims.
    Unfortunately this is the only contact number for UC.

    Were you claiming any benefits other than Housing Benefit before you moved house? Did you move into a different Local Authority area when you moved?

    Reading through your posts it is hard to add to what @Poppy123456 has put. It does sound like the MIF has been applied.

    Let us know if you manage to find out why the DWP has withdrawn your case, it does sound like they have made a mistake somewhere along the line!





    Joanne 
    Scope
  • rednaxrednax Member Posts: 25 Connected
    edited December 2019
    I was able to make some progress when speaking to numerous people at both the DWP and CHDA. The number given to me in my online journal was incorrect, and I was able to use the telephone number you suggested, but after ending up speaking to the wrong department they told me to call again and instead choose option 2 then option 1. I was on hold for 18 minutes but eventually was able to speak to a person. 

    I have been advised that the job centre incorrectly submitted my forms as part of something called "day zero" in which the case is fast tracked. I presume this is for people who may have a terminal illness but can't be sure. 
    So CHDA returned the forms to the DWP as I didn't meet the criteria, and have wiped my case from their systems. 

    The lady on the phone gave a very confusing account of what was due to happen next, with neither DWP or  CHDA having much on their systems. 

    I am still unclear as to how long this will take though. 
    My claim started on the 2nd September. My doctor was on leave and I had to wait until their next "admin block" to get my fit note issued. I was sent to me and then I sent it to the job centre. The fit note is dated from the 2nd September, but was not received at the job centre until the 7th October. They have now just had a further 3 months sick note from 2nd Dec-2 March. 

    The lady on the DWP helpline who couldn't find much on her computer seemed to suggest that the 3 month wait period didn't start until the 27th November because of this error they made, and when CHDA sent the case back,  however it's my understanding that it should be three months from the date they had the first fit note, the 7th October, meaning a decision on or around 7th January. Am I right to make that assumption?  I've made a freedom of information request of CHDA to see if any more info can be uncovered. If what she says is true, then the 3 month period would end in 27th February which doesn't seem right to me, that would be nearly 5 months from the date they had my fit note, and 6 months from when I made the claim. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Glad to hear that you have some idea of what's happened. To be honest i've not heard of the "day zero" before but then i'm not familiar with the terminal illness procedure they use, other than it's fast tracked and the 3 month waiting period doesn't apply.

    Your thoughts on the decision being made on or around 7th January is incorrect. The 3 month waiting period doesn't mean a decision will be made within that time or even around that time. It just means that if you're awarded LCWRA then you won't receive any extra money for the first 3 months, this is called "the waiting period" but it's 3 full assessment periods, rather than just 3 months and because UC is paid in arrears the LCWRA element isn't paid until the 4th month.

    As you didn't send your fit note until 7th October this will delay the waiting period but it will also depend on when your assessment period is because as advised, it's 3 full assessment periods. If you are awarded LCWRA you may not potentially receive any extra money until around February but without knowing when your assessment periods are it's difficult to advise.

    Decision waiting times totally depend on backlog in your area, some wait just a few months, while other wait several months.

    You should expect a face to face assessment because most people have them, it's very rare to have a paper based assessment. Did you send evidence to support your claim? They very rarely contact anyone for any evidence, the onus is on you to make sure it's sent to support your claim.

    Once an appointment becomes available then they'll send you a letter in the post. As Christmas is just around the corner then backlogs will increase, especially because of the Christmas closing days.

    Once a decision's made if you are awarded LCWRA and the decision's taken longer then you will be backdated any money owed.

    If the decision is LCW then you won't receive any extra money each month but you will receive a work allowance and the MIF won't apply to you. Hope this helps.
    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.
  • rednaxrednax Member Posts: 25 Connected
    edited December 2019
    Thank you for your substantial reply, it's appreciated. 
    I suffer from chronic migraine and chronic insomnia, both feed into each other. I have a substantial medical history and a daily prescription with my doctor going back to early childhood regarding migraines, and the insomnia only began receiving daily medication since 2010. Work makes them both significantly worse and sends me on a downward spiral of instability and mental heath problems. 

    They had my sick note and completed UC-50 with an additional full A4 page of supporting evidence from me on the 7th October.

    I was previously in receipt of housing benefit as I can earn some small income (typically less than £100 per month) from home online, but after being forced to move house due to the landlord selling up I have to now go down this route as housing benefit is no longer available under universal credit, and obviously the minimum income floor would leave me with less than £250 per month of benefits.  

    I have had to take out a loan to pay my rent right now so things are very tricky, I have an appointment at the job centre later this month to basically put me in the job seeker category and abandon being self employed, but at least it should give me some income, but even if they do that it's still going to be a further month due to it being paid in monthly arrears, but at least it's better than £250, but is going to mean that it won't even be £250 during that first month of full JSA as my current payment date is the 10th. 

    All a bit of a mess really, and it isn't made any easier by incorrect advice when speaking to their representatives over the phone! If it doesn't end up with LCWRA then I have absolutely no way to support myself and I dread to think what will happen then. 


  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    You're welcome,

    You will be assessed on your ability to do any type of work because it's not about the work you can't do, it's the work you can do. It depends how your conditions affect you and not about a diagnosis.

    Have you had a look at the descriptors for LCWRA? Both LCW and LCWRA descriptors are here https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Your-Situation/Ill-Injured-or-Disabled/Universal-Credit-Capability-for-work-assessment

    If none of those descriptors apply to you then substantial risk may. See link and scroll down to regulation 35. It says Support Group but LCWRA is exactly the same. https://cpag.org.uk/welfare-rights/resources/article/making-exception


    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
    I don't know it you have any knowledge about what the work capability assessment is all about but here's some links for you to read through. Even though it says ESA it's still the work capability assessment and the process is exactly the same.





    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.
  • rednaxrednax Member Posts: 25 Connected
    Hi Poppy,

    Yes, I've scored quite highly on the descriptors, I was advised to answer the questions with the assumption that I am experiencing migraine at the time. I lose most of my vision, go completely numb down one side of my body, have nausea and vomiting, photosensitivity, dizziness etc, as well of course as the headache itself.  I've had them for as long as I can remember, and they are pretty much unresponsive to any over the counter or prescription drugs, but can sometimes respond to triptans. 

    I score over the required threshold points mainly due to the loss of vision and numbness as I can't read anything and am completely reliant on another person helping me to navigate unfamiliar places. I can pretty much get around my own home when I'm having an attack to the same extent as anyone could if they were blindfolded, but outside or in an office where people may have moved desks or boxes and I can't navigate. So on those alone I would seem to satisfy the points required. 

    The insomnia itself is a migraine trigger, which I can manage somewhat at home with my sleeping patterns all over the place, but it reduces migraines to a slightly more stable level. I have nightly amitriptyline to help me to stay asleep when I can get sleep, and I have sumatriptan nasal sprays for the migraine which occasionally lessen the symptoms but more often than not they don't. 

    Forcing myself into regular 9-5 hours and/or into an office situation with an environment I can't control and have nowhere dark and quiet to lay down during an attack and I start to become very unstable and deteriorate within days into a chain of one migraine after another. Simply trying to get home in a taxi during an attack is problematic and I sometimes have to ask the driver to help me to my front door as I will only have peripheral vision. 

    My doctor is very much aware of this and has provided the fit notes nothing "uncontrollable migraine and insomnia" and has no hesitation in signing me off work permanently. I have 2x 3 month fit notes, after which he can then issue them annually.  

    Hopefully it will meet the DWP's requirements, and I have been looking at the mandatory reconsideration and then the tribunal processes where people have appealed. The biggest problem for me is the timescales here. Currently I'm subject to the minimum income floor but I am meeting with the job centre to see if I can be placed in the jobseeker's pile instead while this plays out. 

    I can certainly see the difference in the way we're treated under a Tory government! 

    Thank you very much again, most kind of you.

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    For LCWRA it's not about scoring points. LCW is about scoring points and you need to least 15 to placed into this group.

    You will be found to have limited capability for work and work-related activity if:

    • at least one of the LCWRA descriptors applies to you for the majority of the time or on the majority of the occasions that you try to carry out the activity;
    • your capability for work and work-related activity is limited; and
    • it is not reasonable for you to carry out the activity.
    There's no such thing as a permanent fit note. If the worst does happen and you are found fit for work then no more fit notes will be accepted.

    If you're successfully placed into either of the groups then no further fit notes are needed.



    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.
  • rednaxrednax Member Posts: 25 Connected
    edited December 2019
    Thank you for clarifying. My doctor explained the limitation of 3 monthly initial fit notes and then annual, and as I've been asked for two so far from the DWP since applying for LCW. I assumed incorrectly that they would then need them in the frequency that my doctor suggested. 

    So far as the LWC points go, it will obviously be up to the assessor, but i believe I have scored above the required points threshold and went into a lot of detail on an additional A4 paper stating specifically what the challenges are and how they practically effect my reliability and ability to carry out regular work, and how the very act of trying to force myself into a 9-5 routine only makes things worse. It's not just work, I gave up on holidays in 2009 as they are a waste of money for me and I end up in the same situation.

    I highlighted that being forced into a daily routine becomes very destabilizing due to insomnia, which in turn triggers migraine in a chain, one after another with no reprieve. I hope they will not force me into that situation just to demonstrate this and confirm what I have explained on paper, as in the past this has resulted in sanctions in not attending their appointments, where they don't tend to understand or believe that I have little control over timing and frequency of attacks.

    The very fact that I have an appointment booked yet have not been able to sleep for 48 hours in itself triggers a migraine because I am forcing myself to stay awake to attend the appointment outside with no control over my environment when I should instead be doing everything I can at home in my pitch black bedroom and earplugs to try and tell my head it's time to sleep.

    It's just difficult trying to explain to someone how I can be absolutely fine, bright and in good spirit one moment, and then the next I see aura and blind spots appear in my vision, my heart drops and I know I won't be able to do anything for hours or days until it's passed, and need to get home ASAP. 

    Never once have I used migraine or insomnia as an excuse to do something I don't want to do, yet I can see it in people's eyes that they are not entirely sure I'm being honest during the onset of an attack, or seemingly being half asleep with little concentration and not paying attention as if I've been out on the town the night before. When I was a child my stepfather never believed me, and punished me because he thought I was using it as an excuse to be collected from school and it was an inconvenience to him. That feeling of dread on the onset of a migraine has never left me even though I have had no contact with him for a decade. 

    All things of course that do not appear on a fit note and what I've highlighted on the additional information of the UC50 form. 
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