Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Worried about my ESA

So, after feeling very happy earlier this week due to winning my PIP tribunal my good feelings didn’t get to last very long as yesterday I had to call the DWP regarding my ESA as they wanted to check if I was eligible for some sort of disability premium.

Upon going through the questions they asked about adults living with me and I live with two, one being my mum and the other being my girlfriend.

My girlfriend moved in with me and my mum about two years ago and I (being stupid I suppose) never thought at all I would have to inform them about this for my ESA.

Turns out its a big problem as I’ve always been on income related ESA and was told because they had me down as ‘single’ I’ve basically been getting overpaid so now they’ve terminated my ESA entirely and I’m now awaiting for some form I believe related to my partners income.

Unfortunately due to mental health since being a child (I’m now 26) I’ve always been on ESA and DLA (now PIP).

I had a major breakdown and was extremely upset yesterday upon getting told this as I’m now scared and concerned with what happens in regards to my ESA and I have no idea what I’ll be entitled to, if anything.

My girlfriend works full time and I ‘was’ on ESA income related along with the ESA ‘support group’.

I realise it’s going to be pretty bad for me in regards to it but thought I would join and post here to see if anyone can help or advise as to what will happen next.

Replies

  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,476 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @bailey94 and welcome to the community! I'm sorry to hear what has happened. Unfortunately I don't have much knowledge about ESA therefore I can't provide an answer. However, there are lots of members who will be able to provide advice and will be along shortly :) 
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,816 Disability Gamechanger
    hi @bailey94 how are you this afternoon? If your partner lives with you then you are classed as a couple, the fact that she works full time will affect your IR ESA, but without all the facts, dates earnings etc it's impossible to advise properly. You need to contact CAB or welfare rights for detailed advice.
    The bottom line is you should have informed the DWP when she moved in, "I never thought at all" i'm afraid won't be any defence.
    I suspect that the next move will be an interview under caution, what happens after that is anyones guess.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • bailey94bailey94 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    woodbine said:
    hi @bailey94 how are you this afternoon? If your partner lives with you then you are classed as a couple, the fact that she works full time will affect your IR ESA, but without all the facts, dates earnings etc it's impossible to advise properly. You need to contact CAB or welfare rights for detailed advice.
    The bottom line is you should have informed the DWP when she moved in, "I never thought at all" i'm afraid won't be any defence.
    I suspect that the next move will be an interview under caution, what happens after that is anyones guess.
    I’m feeling a little better since yesterday, just hate all the uncertainty of things now.

    Of course I realise now that I should have contacted them, I’d never try to do anything like lie about things or hide something if I thought it was something I had to inform about.
    I know it’s stupid of me, I just have always thought being a ‘couple’ to the DWP and other things would mean being married, having joint accounts, joint bills, that sort of thing.
    And while we are obviously a couple we have always had separate bills, accounts with things etc, my partner doesn’t send me her earnings.

    It worries me hearing things like ‘interviews under caution’ as I don’t fully understand what it means and the idea of being in trouble with things terrifies me.
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,816 Disability Gamechanger
    Just to pick up if i can "my partner doesnt send me her earnings" do you live together or not, makes a big difference.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • bailey94bailey94 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    woodbine said:
    Just to pick up if i can "my partner doesnt send me her earnings" do you live together or not, makes a big difference.
    As I said yes she moved in with me and my mum about two years ago.

    Its my mums ‘house’ under the housing association though, and what I mean is is that we don’t have any joint payments,
    and we don’t ‘split’ any money with each other like the DWP seem to assume.
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,816 Disability Gamechanger
    You can only wait and see what happens next, I know thats not a big help but it's the best I've got.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • cupcake88cupcake88 Member Posts: 874 Pioneering
    Hi there 
     
    im not too sure on esa my self just that I wasn’t eligible for the new style ESA and I didn’t even bother applying for income because I was told if my partner works more than 24 hours a week I’ll be turned down . I personally think it’s unfair and I’m sure they will take it into consideration because when you suffer with mental illness you don’t really think of stuff like that at times so I’m sure it be ok . I really hope it goes ok keep us updated . 
  • bailey94bailey94 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thank you both.

    The guy on the phone said they were sending some sort of form I believe related to my partners income and it should be here this coming week.

    Am just trying to focus on the positives for me at the moment which I guess is the fact I won my PIP appeal and they owe me back pay since last year for that.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    Unfortunately, although you don't share bills etc, you live together as a couple and this means you need to claim as a couple. If all of your ESA was income related then this means with your partner working full time then you wouldn't have been entitled to any ESA from the day they moved in with 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.
  • bailey94bailey94 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thanks for replying.

    I've come to realise now that this is probably the case for me but I never realised it would include our situation as we do not "live together like a married couple" which is one of the ways the DWP describe what they define a couple.
    To me living like a married couple with mean sharing bills, accounts, or even have our own home together which we also do not (we live with my mum in her house).

    I'm quite worried as I would never do anything like this on purpose to get more money that I'm not entitled to, even though I find it a little odd that just because my partner works and earns her own money this means I'm apparently not entitled to anything myself given my situation

    I'm not somebody who would attempt to commit any sort of fraud or illegal doings knowingly, and I'd like to think that given they know me in my reports, and the fact I came out and said it to the guy at DWP on the phone the other day before he even actually asked me any official questions about partners etc it has to be quite obvious that I haven't done it on purpose.

    I'm still waiting for forms/letters from the DWP and plan on contacting the CAB tomorrow just to get some advice about it all.

    It's a very stressful and horrible time though with all this to think about and just as I've said when I finally after 9 long months got the result I've been fighting for regarding my PIP a few days before.
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 9,309 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @bailey94 I am sorry to hear about your issue, but as others have advised living together may not mean you share bills but the fact the household income is now larger due to another person contributing means your earnings related benefit would be affected.

    You will fill in the form about earnings and then I would have thought you will be asked in for interview under caution (dont panic) it means it is an official interview.

    They will then make a decision whether to proceed with the claim and any action to take 

    Hope it all gets sorted for you
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    It really makes no difference whether you share bills or not, you live together and this counts for all means tested benefits, even though you're still living with parents. Lots of couples still live with parents.  Your partner is meant to support 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.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

    Scope community team

    I'm really sorry to read of the situation @bailey94. You're not the first person to make this mistake and you've not tried to hide it. It may be worth you getting support from Welfare Rights or CAB to look over things with you.
    It's likely they'll decide you've been overpaid and if that's the case, they'll set up a repayment plan with you.
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope

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