What benefits am I entitled to?
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Housing Benefit claim with savings but no income

Rather difficult questions regarding housing benefits. I hope someone can advise? I was diagnosed with a severe neurological movement disorder several years ago, and have recently had my ESA (unfairly) stopped completely.  Due to my disability I am unable to work, so this has left me with no income apart from housing benefit payments.

Recently I found out that I am able to cash in an old work pension early, after the pension company accepted that I am unable to work for the foreseeable future due to my illness. Once cashed in, I would have over £16,000 in my account, which is beyond the savings limit set by the Government in relation to claiming benefits. However, this pension money will be used as my sole income for the foreseeable future.

First question - While my Mother is currently helping with my income by loaning me a small amount each month, she is now at retirement age and needs the loans back, which means I have to claim my pension money as soon as possible. Even though the work pension money is going to be treated as my sole income, will the council treat it as savings and stop my housing benefit entirely, or do they take my financial situation into account? 

Second question - Using the pension money, I plan on paying off a long standing debt in full, as well as paying back a large amount of the money my mother has loaned me previously. After doing this, my bank will be below the £16,000 limit set on savings allowed when claiming benefits. My question is, as these payments could look suspiciously like I'm deliberately trying to get my savings under £16,000, will these be classed as a 'deprivation of assets' by the council? (i.e. The council would assume that I'm deliberately trying to pass off my savings to get below the level).

I have full documentation in regards to my debts, but I am worried that the council will refuse to accept that the money lent by my mother has to be paid back, even though it's her retirement money. My bank statements do show the monthly payments, so would this be acceptable evidence, and do the council accept these situations?

Just to clarify, I am not in anyway trying to defraud the benefits system. I have just been put in this situation due to the DWP stopping my sickness benefits, so I have no other choice. I am extremely worried that if my Housing Benefits are stopped, the pension savings I do have will disappear within a year, when I need the savings to last far longer. Thanks.


Replies

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited August 2020
    Hi and welcome,

    Unfortunately, paying off debt will most definiteily be classed as deprivation of capital in order to claim a means tested benefit and you'll still be classed as having the money. The only exception to this is if the debts are immediately repayable because you're receiving letters of court action.

    You will of course need to report the changes once you receive the money in your bank.

    However, once your housing benefit stops you will not be able to reclaim this because all areas are now a full Universal Credit area so it will be this you'll need to claim for help with your rent. If you'll be receiving a weekly pension amount then this will be classed as income for UC and reduce it £1 for £1. Paying off debt is not classed as deprivation of capital for Universal Credit purposes. If you claim UC savings of £6,000 and over will reduce your UC by £4.35 per month for every £250 (or part there of) over that amount.


    Were you found fit for work for your 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.
  • Flimboid45Flimboid45 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    Thanks for your reply Poppy. Apologies but I'm still a little unsure about certain aspects, especially as it may involve changing to Universal Credit.

    Can you clarify two points for me please?

    The first point:-  I understand from your response that if I take the pension as a full amount in one payment, this will be treated as savings,  which will stop my housing benefit regardless of the fact that I am receiving no other income? I would prefer to take the lump sum, but I assume you are saying that if I take it as monthly payments, it is treated as income as opposed to savings?

    The second point:- By claiming my pension as either a lump sum or in monthly payments, would this mean my housing benefit would be automatically stopped, so I will have to reapply for Universal Credit? I would be able to understand my position a lot better if I knew which type of benefit I would be claiming after I start receiving pension payments.

    Paying off my debt in full is not essential as I am on a debt recovery plan done through a charity, so that's not really a big issue for me. My main concern is getting access to my pension in a manner where I am able to continue receiving Housing Benefit.

    With regards to my ESA. I started claiming around 10 years ago, when I was diagnosed with my disability. Despite the symptoms and severity of my disability staying the same, after each assessment I have gone from Support Group to Work Related group, and then to scoring 0 points (which I successfully appealed).

    After my most recent assessment, I was awarded 0 points and my appeal was unsuccessful. I have been told that I am unable to reapply for sickness benefits, due to being found "fit for work". So basically I'm stuck in limbo, where I am unable to claim job seeker's allowance, as my disability prevents me from taking even part time work, yet I am not deemed eligible for ESA or current equivalent.  I was also put under immense stress and anxiety trying to constantly fight for my ESA payments, to a point that I am unable to deal with fighting for them anymore.






  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited August 2020
    If you take your pension as a lump sum then it's classed as savings and will stop your housing benefit if you have over £16,000.

    If you take it as a monthly/weekly sum then it's classed as income. I have no idea how much your housing benefit will be affected if you take the weekly/monthly payments, you can use a benefits calculator to check this.

    If your housing benefit stops you will not be able to reclaim it, you will have to claim Universal Credit for help with your rent. Your pension weekly/monthly amount will definitelty be classed as income and reduce your UC £1 for £1. For UC you will be entitled to the standard allwance and the housing element, minus your pension. Also becauase UC is means tested then claiming this in the first place will totally depend on your financial circumstances. If you live with a partner you'll need to claim as a couple.

    You can pay off your debt when claiming UC. What you do is your decision and really depends on the figures. If you can't use the benefits calculator then speak to an advice agency near you for a full benefits check.

    Also to point out that if you took smaller amounts of lump sums on a regular basis then they could see this as regular payments, which will also cause problems.

    You said you appealed the ESA decision, do you mean the MR or Tribunal?




    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.
  • Flimboid45Flimboid45 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    edited August 2020
    Thank you for clarifying those points for me. With regards to the last ESA decision I had, both my MR and Tribunal upheld the original decision, unfortunately ignoring the evidence I had provided and failing to acknowledge that the medical examination report was misleading, which was done by an unqualified staff member. I also got legal help from a charity dealing with ESA decisions, who highlighted these issues to the Tribunal. However, this was ignored as well. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited August 2020
    You're welcome.

    I'm sorry to hear this. Although concentrating on the report for the Tribunal wasn't the greatest thing of all to do because they wouldn't have been interested in any of that. I'm surprised the charity that helped you advised you of this. What you should have done was concentrate on which group you think you should have been placed into and your reasons why.

    A HCP for the assessments doesn't have to have any knowledge in any certain conditions.

    A poorly presented case can often lead to refusal.

    One other thing, if you do claim UC then you will need fit notes from your GP, otherwise you'll be expected to look for 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.
  • Flimboid45Flimboid45 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    Thank you.

    One other thing, if you do claim UC then you will need fit notes from your GP, otherwise you'll be expected to look for work.

    So does this mean If I claim UC solely for the purpose of Housing Benefit, I have to provide "fit notes" from my GP?
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you.

    One other thing, if you do claim UC then you will need fit notes from your GP, otherwise you'll be expected to look for work.

    So does this mean If I claim UC solely for the purpose of Housing Benefit, I have to provide "fit notes" from my GP?

    You can't claim UC for just the housing part because it's different elements made up as 1 monthly payment.
    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.
  • Flimboid45Flimboid45 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    OK thank you very much for your help.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    You're welcome.
    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.
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 3,422

    Scope community team

    Hi @Flimboid45 and welcome to our community.

    I can see the amazing @poppy123456 has helped you better understand what might happen benefits-wise after receiving your pension.  Please let us know how you get on in the future and if we can help again.  

    It'd be great to see more of you around the forum, if you have spare time you might enjoy browsing in our Coffee Lounge and getting involved in some of the conversations and games we have going on there.
    Online Community Co-ordinator

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  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,824 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Flimboid45 do you claim PIP?
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • Flimboid45Flimboid45 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    woodbine said:
    Hi @Flimboid45 do you claim PIP?

    I've looked into PIP and don't really wish to pursue that route, considering it involves more degrading and unfair medical examinations. Thank you for the suggestion though.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    PIP is not a medical examination. It's an assessment regarding your functional ability.
    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.
  • Flimboid45Flimboid45 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    PIP is not a medical examination. It's an assessment regarding your functional ability.

    Sounds like the same difference to me. If it's the same assessment and evaluation that is used for the ESA, then I'm not putting myself through that whole process again.
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,824 Disability Gamechanger
    Its a completely different benefit assessed in a different way.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    woodbine said:
    Its a completely different benefit assessed in a different way.

    Yes exactly. They have totally different criteria too.
    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.
  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 683 Pioneering
    It is troubling that officially,  someone with savings is deemed to be on a par with Bill Gates, but someone who has squandered, gambled, lived beyond their means or been feckless is rewarded by having the taxpayers' money.  It highlights  inequalities  just now, with the lavish furlough schemes.

    One person could in theory get two and a half thousand a month from the taxpayers for being an unemployed waitress at Heathrow, while her sister is a  straightforward unemployed waitress getting five hundred, and their brother is an unemployed waiter who gets nothing because  he shares a household,  and another brother gets nothing, or (?) £50 a week,  because  he cares for his partner round the clock. Their mother gets no means tested benefit,  not even enough state pension to live on, because  she was stupid enough to live a frugal life, going without, in order to keep a little nest egg for old age.

    Endlessly,  tv and radio obsess with the whining of people with the equivalent of chipped nail varnish. But they never focus on disability and age, the neglected equalities groups, and the far more serious (and widespread) injustices, dis rimination, and cruelty inherent in unfair systems and no effective enforcement.  

    It angers me every time an organisation presents a long, long,  option form, requesting to know exact details of possible ethnic backgrounds, and possibly if one has switched gender identity,  but almost never even a single question on age and disability.  
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 9,341 Disability Gamechanger
    Some very valid points there @newborn
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