Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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ESA Reduction

I have received a letter to say my ESA is to go down by £38 per week on the 3rd June but didn't say why. I phoned DWP who couldn't tell me why either for quite some time, before saying it was because I am in a mixed age couple and my partner is of state pension age. They said the £38 was an estimate and we could lose more. 

I explained my partner has not drawn their state pension. They told me he would have to as they are 67 in Dec and to phone the pension service. We phoned the pension service who said they didn't have any rule that a person has to draw their pension and that is down to the DWP

We wanted to leave things as they are as we don't want to be worse off and are worried about losing our housing benefit. 

I tried to get benefit advice from elsewhere and was told I would lose my hoping benefit and would be worse off. I contacted Citizens Advice who just asked me what DWP said but couldn't help me any further. I don't know what to do next as if we claim the state pension we will lose housing benefit  but if we do nothing we will lose ESA. I am very worried. 


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

    This will be due to the mixed aged couple changes for pension credit that applied since May 2019.

    I believe the way to go here will be for your partner to claim state pension and then you both need to claim Universal Credit as a couple.

    Which ever group you are in for ESA will be honoured in UC. If you are claiming Contributions based ESA then this will transfer to New style ESA because it's not part of UC. Your ESA payments (£111.65 per week) will continue to be paid but  will be deducted from any UC entitlement as well as your partners state pension amount.

    If your ESA is Income related then this will stop when you claim UC and all transfer to UC.
    Help for your rent will be paid through UC.

    If you are in the Support Group for ESA then your UC amounts will look something like this. Couples standard allowance £498.89 LCWRA element £336.20 then your housing element on top of that. UC is paid monthly.

    The deductions will then apply as advised above. The remainder of the amount left will be your rent.

    I'm going to tag a member of our admin team who will hopefully be able to confirm my thoughts here. @Adrian_Scope any advice here please?

    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.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,924

    Scope community team

    Sorry I'm only just spotting this now and thanks for the tag @poppy123456

    Hi @Mungo. From my understanding, it's not so much that your partner has to draw their pension, it's that whether they draw it or not, it'll be counted as income due to the 'deprivation of income' rules (choosing not to claim income that's available to you). 

    Whether you'd be better off claiming UC or remaining on ESA is hard to advise. ESA can include a pensioner premium which may tip the balance in its favour. It would be worth you going through a few different calculations to see which way would be financially better for you. 
    Senior Community Partner

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  • Joanne_ScopeJoanne_Scope Scope helpline, Scope adviser Posts: 190 Pioneering
    Hi @mungo,

    I agree with @Adrian_Scope on this one. If your partner chooses not to draw his pension then it will be taken into account as income anyway, so he might as well get it.
    The changes in May 2019 do mean that you cannot claim Pension Credit until you are both over state pension age, but in the meantime you can continue to claim ESA if you still meet the financial criteria when your partner gets his pension.

  • MungoMungo Member Posts: 7 Listener
    By the time we are both over state pension age we will most likely both be dead. We don't want to plunge out self in to universal credit and all that entails so will have to lose income which seems ridiculous as we're both getting older out income is going down. If my husband claimed state pension would have to pay housing benefit. These  benfit calculators are useless. I put in all details of last benfit letter and they are wildly off the mark of what I receive. We can't get anyone to give benfits advice and it seems no-one can help cus understand what's going on. 
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