Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Can someone help please?

My Mum was in receipt of Incapacity benefit and has been for a number of years due to a serious accident that left her unable to work. Due to the injuries and her mental health it was decided she did not nees to attend assessment so I believe was awarded indefinitely? She was sent some forms to fill in and then someone called her in November (I don't know what was discussed) and it seems her Incapacity benefit was stopped in December. This week she has received a letter dated 23rd December advising that she is not entitled to ESA(IR) from 05 April 2017 due to receiving Industrial Injuries during the period concerned (the industrial injuries was from a seperate accident at work many years ago that left her with permanent back injury when she was nursing but she returned to work in a non nursing role, so did work after this). I can see there are 2 types of ESA - have they done the wrong one? Should she have been transferred automatically due to already being in Incapacity benefit? She now only gets DLA and the industrial injuries which come to a little over £400 per month - there's no way she can survive on that while paying a mortgage. If anyone can advise, I would be so grateful as I don't know how it all works and I'm geuninely worried this is going to give her mental health a serious set back.

Replies

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited January 2020
    HI and welcome,

    I'm one of the community champions here on scope and i'm here to help and advise others.

    I'm a little confused by your questions. You say your mum claimed Incapacity benefit which was awarded indefinitely but incapacity benefit no longer exists and all those that were claiming it were transferred to ESA.

    The form your mum received was because of the IB to ESA underpayments. Lots of people that were transferred from IB to ESA weren't assessed for any Income Related top up on their ESA and they were just automatically placed onto Contributions based.

    When your mum was assessed for the Income related top up, whether she was entitled to any backdated money will depend on her circumstances during the dates stated in the letter. The things they take into consideration are living with partner that works or claims any other benefits, income from pensions, savings/capital and any industrial injuries benefit they are receiving.

    As she was receiving the Industrial injuries benefit then this will be counted as income for any Income related top up and it will reduce it £1 for £1, as she's receives £400 per month then she wouldn't have been entitled to any Income Related ESA, even though they are 2 different benefits, it's classed as income.

    You say she returned to work, if the hours she worked were more than 16 hours per week then yes her ESA would have stopped because she wouldn't have been entitled to any ESA when working 16 hours or more per week.

    May i ask if she still works? if so how many hours per week does she work?
    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Hi, thanks so much for your reply. Sorry I think I've confused the issue. My Mum was claiming Incapacity Benefit since her serious accident in 2005, she hasn't been able to work since then due to the nature of the injuries and Fibromyalgia. The industrial Injuries payment she has received since before that and while she was still in work before her big accident and is about £35 per week. When would she have been transferred over to ESA? She said her last payment was in November and nothing received in December apart from her DLA and the industrial injuries. She was confused as the letter said not eligible for ESA(IR) then said no affect to her benefit but her benefit does seem to have been stopped. From what you've said, it could be that this letter is completely unrelated to why her benefit has stopped? I don't know who to contact while I'm with her on Tuesday to try and sort this out. She has no partner but my adult sister lives at home and works full time. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Transfers from IB to ESA started in 2011 so she could have transferred anytime from then.

    She would have been receiving Contributions based ESA because everyone that transferred across were placed onto this automatically. Contributions based ESA wouldn't be affected by her Industrial injuries benefit.

    I think the ESA stopping is a completely different issue to the ESA (IR) letter that she received is a completely different thing to her ESA stopping completely.

    Before her ESA stopped was she reassessed at anytime? did she attend a face to face assessment?

    When her payments stopped did she contact ESA/DWP to ask why? We are now almost at the end of January and you said she hasn't receive any ESA payments since December? If she hasn't rang them is there any reasons why? Only they will be able to tell her why her ESA has stopped. If she's had a work capability assessment it's possible that she was found fit for work and this will mean she's no longer entitled to ESA.
    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    She's only just realised her payments stopped this week when she got her bank statement. She very rarely leaves the house so doesn't often get to the bank to check things there. Definitley no reassessment or face to face and as far as I know, no request for one. Does the indefinite award get transferred or no? I know there was a problem with one of her benefits stopping back in 2014, I thought it was her DLA but looking at the change over timeframe online, it could well have been the change over from IB to ESA and I know whatever it was all got back paid to her. She tried to call during the week but couldn't get through so has written to them (I'm afraid she's old school and likes to do things in writing!) I am going over on my day off on Tuesday to try and sort this mess out. She suffers badly with her mental health/depression and has an unfortunate habit of not keeping up with what she does/doesn't have to do so I really hope it's not because of something she's meant to have done but didn't! I really appreciate your advice, thank you, I feel lost with it all. I don't know what we'll do if she's required to have a face to face, she'll struggle physically to get anywhere and I'm really not sure she'd cope mentally. She's in her early 60's but sometimes feels like me and my sister are the parent lol
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    You're welcome. No, ESA would not have been indefinite when she transferred across. If she hasn't been to a face to face assessment and you said she's got a habit of not keeping up with what she needs to do then i'm concerned that a work capability assessment form was sent to her and she didn't return it, or she didn't attend a face to face assessment when she should have.

    If she didn't attend a face to face assessment then being found fit for work for failing to attend is definitely a possibility. If this has happened then the process can be rather long. She could have also missed the 1 month deadline for requesting the Mandatory Reconsideration BUT with good reason they will allow up to 13 months.

    If she was found fit for work then she would have received a letter telling her this and that her ESA would end. Does she have a habit of not opening her mail?

    I know it can be very difficult sometimes to get through to DWP and sometimes you can be waiting an hour. I always find the best time to ring is when they open at 8am.

    If she's not capable of looking after her own benefits claim then becoming her appointee maybe an option to look at. You would then be responsible for her benefits claim, including her money being paid into a bank account in your name. Making phone calls and receiving all letters regarding her benefits, which will include her DLA.

    Also just so you're aware. DLA no longer exists and she'll soon be invited to apply for PIP. She will receive a letter asking her to apply for PIP and if she doesn't do this by the date in the letter her DLA will end. You may want to watch out for that letter arriving sometime in the future.

    Hope this helps. Good luck and hopefully she hasn't been found fit for work. If you do need further advice once she rings please come back and i'd be happy to advise you further.

    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thank you Poppy and you have just outlined my fears as yes, I think she also has a habbit of either not opening mail or opening it and putting it somewhere to "forget" about. I'm not sure she would be happy for me to become an appointee and I'm not sure I would want to, as I also have an autistic child who I've applied for DLA for so will be his appointee if successful. With that, a toddler and working, I just really need to not be worrying about her too if you know what I mean. Thank you so much for your help and advice, I'll update once I know more, just incase anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation. Fingers crossed it's just a big misunderstanding!
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited January 2020
    You're welcome,

    I hope my thoughts aren't correct here but it does seem like this is what's happened and she could very likely have been found fit for work.

    Regarding your Son's DLA claim. As he's a child then you won't need to become his appointee because you will be responsible for his claim and any award he may have means that payments will go into your bank account. Children under the age of 16 are far too young to be responsible for their own claim.

    I totally understand not wanting to become your mum's appointee. An update would be appreciated, thank you.
    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    I too hope it's not the case, although I'm sure she would have told me if she'd been asked to attend any appointments as 1. She would've been angry due being told she wouldn't have to do one again and 2. I'm the only one who drives and would be the one to have to try and get her there. She is definitely not fit for work and hasn't been for the last 15 years. As my sister lives back home I've asked her to get all of the relevant paperwork together, including bank statements, so I can go over it all and make sure nothing has been missed.

    My son is under 10 so definitely too young to manage his own claim haha!

    Thanks again :smile:
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    If she has a habit of not opening some mail then she wouldn't have know about the assessment. If she had been sent a work capability assessment form and this hadn't been returned then because she claims for mental health reasons they not returning it wouldn't have gone against her. If she had been sent an appointment for the face to face assessment and not turned up for that, it would be this that could have found her fit for for work (failing to attend)

    It may also be worth your sister having a look to see if there's been any mail not opened in the last couple of months.

    Good luck and hopefully you'll be able to sort it.
    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    I did just check with my sister and she said it's normally just the generic bank statements and things like that, that she normally leaves on the side. She said she's normally pretty good at opening the "brown envelope" ones, so hopefully it's just an oversight somewhere and we'll hopefully get to the bottom of it. Honestly can't tell you how much you've helped though.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    This is the issue, unfortunately, the work capability assessment form doesn't come from DWP, it's sent straight from the health assessment advisory service and they are white envelopes not brown ones.This includes appointment letters for face to face assessments.

    The reason i know is because i claim ESA myself and this is one letter that always takes me by surprise.
    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Ah ok, I shall make sure to get my sister to check! How often do they do these? Doing some online reading about ESA as I genuinely no nothing about it, and it seems people are put into 2 categories and ones in the "support" group aren't required to have these or have I read that wrong? Reading it, she would definitely come under this group but I don't know who gets to decide that. If the problem in 2014 was due to the switch from IB to ESA, I know for sure she didn't go for an interview nor was she asked and like I say (to my knowledge) hasn't since. Given her health issues and age, she definitely won't be able to work again - she can't even manage Asda for half an hour!
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    You have definitely read wrong about those in the Support Group not needing reviews. New rules were introduced in 2017 which means that those who are in the Support Group could be placed into the severe conditions group and no further reassessments are needed. To be placed into this group a decision will be made after the next reassessment. As she hasn't been assessed since 2014 then it's very unlikely she will be in this group. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2017/october/guidance-work-capability-assessment-reassessment-published

    Assessments can take place anytime from 3 months and because she's not had one since at least 2014 then chances are she was due one at anytime.

    Difficult to speculate and 2nd guess at this stage and only DWP can tell her what's happened, unless any letters are found in the meantime.

    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Oh sorry, my bad, I thought I had read that if she had filled in the work assessment questionnaire thingy, that if they decided from her forms that she had limited capability for work she wouldn't need to attend a face to face. You're right though, we will only know for sure once we've spoken to the DWP
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    On that basis, you read correctly but it's very unlikely that has happened in this case.
    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.
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Her injuries are a result of an horrendous fire accident so adding that to her various other illnesses, it's not entirely impossible but then again, it's not impossible she's mislaid a letter asking her to attend a face to face! Ah well, not much I can do until they're open so no point worrying until I know for sure. Once again your advice has been much appreciated and will update once I know :smile:
  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @K534   Pleased to meet you.

    I am one of the Community Champions.

    As my friend @poppy123456 has advised you I thought I could help .

    I would consider contacting mental health charities as you mentioned your Mother has mental health.

    I used the following 

    https://www.richmondfellowship.org.uk.

    https://www.mind.org.uk.

    https://www.rethink.org.

    You Mother would be entitled to floating support, help and advice with this benefit problems.

    Well being and health, anything else they can help with.

    Your Mother can self refer of speak to your GP.

    Might not be in all areas.

    Please if I can help further any questions please ask.

    Please take care.

    @thespiceman
    Community Champion
    SCOPE Volunteer Award Engaging Communities 2019
    Mental Health advice, guidance and information to all members
    Nutrition, Diet, Wellbeing, Addiction.
    Recipes
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    @poppy123456 just to update, I am currently at my Mum's and checked her bank statement with her. No payments have been stopped!!! She was looking for a 4 weekly payment as that's how it used to come and did not realise it is now 2 weekly. All is fine and I've told her to keep an eye out for the white envelope if she gets called for a face to face. Thank you so much for you're help and advise. I wouldn't have know what to look for without it!
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    That’s great news. Although ESA is a weekly benefit that has always been paid fortnightly and not 4 weekly. Anyway glad to have helped 😊
    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.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,997

    Scope community team

    I'm really glad it was a false alarm @K534 and that her money hasn't stopped! 
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope
  • K534K534 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    I'm really glad it was a false alarm @K534 and that her money hasn't stopped! 
    Me too! I've had a little word with her about making sure she knows what is going on. It's probably been fortnightly since they moved her over but she just doesn't check things properly 🙈
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