Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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CONTRIBUTION BASED/NEW STYLE ESA AND UNIVERSAL CREDIT

Hi everyone. I am hoping that this group can give me some advice as I’ve tied myself in knots trying to find answers from UC and ESA.

In January this year, my partner and I found ourselves out of work and with nowhere to turn. My mental health had been deteriorating for a while and took a turn for the worse. I applied for ESA and we both applied for UC following advice at Jobcentreplus appointment. ESA (New Style/Contribution Based) was granted from 31 January 2020 and our joint claim for UC was granted.

Following completion of UC50 and subsequent telephone assessment, I was assessed as having LCWWRA and placed in the support group. We were therefore awarded an additional £341.92 in addition to the standard allowance of £594.04 from UC four weekly. ESA payments of £73.10 per week have been in place.

My partner commenced work again in July. Since then our UC payments have been zero due to his earnings and I have continued to receive the ESA payment of £73.10 per week.

i applied for PIP at the end of August and am waiting decision or assessment.

I have received two letters from Jobcentreplus headed ‘Contribution Based ESA Is Due To End’ as you will have received 365 days contribution based ESA on 5 February 2021, unless you are in the support group. I’ve tried ringing ESA, who referred me to query with UC. Following several attempts at trying to get a definitive answer using my journal, I’m stressed to death, going round in a circle and can’t get any answers.

Please help...

As I am assessed as having LCWWRA following UC assessment, does that mean I am in the Support Group for ESA? 

From what I’ve read I assume the Work Capabilty Assessment resulting from completion of UC50 was for both ESA and UC. Therefore I believed my award of ESA would continue beyond 365 days?

If this is the case, can I stop our joint UC claim as this gives us zero benefits and wipes out all of my sickness benefits due to my partners earnings? 

If I am entitled to claim purely ESA in my own right, would this then continue and be payable at £113.55 per week instead of the £74.35 currently in payment? Currently ESA plus LCWWRA allowances are deducted from UC, which after my partners earnings leaves a UC payment of nil. It appears that my partners earnings shouldn’t affect ESA and would then put us in a better position financially.

I would be grateful for any help or guidance as to what to do?

Thank you in advance 🙏



Replies

  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 2,142 Pioneering
    edited February 1
    The outcome of your WCA should have been applied to ESA as well as UC. You should therefore have been moved into the Support Group. This has two consequences
    1) you can continue to receive ESA for as long as you are in the Support Group, and
    2) the amount of ESA should have increased to £113.55 from the 14th week of the claim.

    Unfortunately I don’t know your best way of resolving this. My instinct is that it is ESA you need to press. If your payments do stop you will need to submit a Mandatory Reconsideration on the grounds that the decision to stop payments was wrong. Something along the lines of:
    • I claimed ESA on xxx and UC on Xxxx
    • I was referred for a WCA, completed and returned a UC50 and as assessment was carried out on xxx
    • I was advised that I had been found to have a LCWRA on xxx
    • I understand that in addition to receiving the LCWRA element in my UC this means I should have placed in the Support Group at that time
    • As a result I am entitled to continue to receive ESA inclusive of the Support component
    You don’t need to close the UC claim. After a period of nil entitlement DWP will close it anyway. With all the uncertainty at the moment your husband’s earnings may change in which case there might be some UC entitlement. If your PIP claim results in a Daily Living award your husband would be entitled to the carer element in UC increasing the maximum entitlement by £162/month. If you are keeping the claim he should note in his journal that he is a carer for you and that you have applied for PIP. This would allow any carer element to be backdated to the date he told them he was a carer.

    i recommend also that you take screen snapshots of all the important messages in your UC journal and of all the payment statements in case you need to refer to them again. If your claim is closed you will lose access to this information, similarly if UC have any reason to recalculate your payments they will over write the old statements.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • KatieH1967KatieH1967 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Thank you for your quick reply.
    ESA payments have continued only at the basic rate of £74.35 per week.
    My UC payments include £341.92 for LCWWRA, which is then wiped out due to my partners earnings.
    Can I stop our joint claim for UC and then be entitled to £113.55 as long as I remain in the Support Group?
    There is no benefit to continuing our joint UC claim or do I have to?
    If so, how do I stop UC claim?
    The ESA letter is really confusing as it has no mention of me being in Support Group and only about contribution based ESA ending. Unless it’s a standard letter.
    I really appreciate your help.
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 2,142 Pioneering
    Apologies, overlapping question/reply - I was editing my reply while you were posting (always afraid of losing what I’ve typed if I don’t save as I go, particularly on long posts).

    I think my expanded reply has covered what you have queried.

    The fact you are still being paid the ESA assessment rate shows that ESA have not recorded the outcome of the WCA. I have no knowledge of what the process is for the WCA outcome to be conveyed to both UC and ESA.

    Perhaps it is worth posting a note in your UC journal asking them to make sure the outcome of the WCA has been communicated to ESA.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • KatieH1967KatieH1967 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Thank you so much, that’s all really useful and helpful.
    I will take your advice and write regarding ESA as when I’ve rung they just refer me to UC and all questions to UC via my journal have been no help at all.
    Thank you again, it’s much appreciated 😊
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 2,142 Pioneering
    edited February 1
    If you are a couple with no rent costs and with LCWRA your UC entitlement is £751.81/month. If ESA is paid at the correct Support Group rate the remaining UC entitlement is £259.76. Your UC payable will be nil if your husband earns more than £924/month. If the carer element is added this ‘nil threshold’ would rise to £1,182.

    if you do want to close your UC claim I assume you can do this by telephone or by leaving a message on your journal - but I wouldn’t do this until the ESA is sorted out in case you need further input from UC.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 2,142 Pioneering
    edited February 1
    Thank you so much, that’s all really useful and helpful.
    I will take your advice and write regarding ESA as when I’ve rung they just refer me to UC and all questions to UC via my journal have been no help at all.
    Thank you again, it’s much appreciated 😊
    I suggest ringing them again and spelling out what I have indicated. Ask them if they can tell you how they are supposed to be informed of the outcome of the WCA carried out under UC (I’ll be interested in the answer to that of you get one). Unfortunately the adviser who answers may not know, if you ask it may be possible to get put through to someone more senior.

    If you do write, whether now or to submit an MR request, probably worth including a print out of the UC message confirming the WCA decision.

    A warning too, when you get the ESA corrected they may pay you backdated arrears of the Support Component. If they do you will have been overpaid UC and will have to pay it back (I have no confidence in DWP to do an offsetting exercise in advance).
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,997

    Scope community team

    Hi @KatieH1967. As @calcotti has said, your LCWRA decision should be carried over to your ESA claim but as you're still only receiving the assessment rate it would appear this hasn't happened yet.
    The two systems communicate quite well when it's an ESA decision moving to UC but for some reason it doesn't work as well in the reverse and I've seen it quite a few times that claimants have to argue for it to be applied. UC should send notification to ESA informing them of your award but in practice this doesn't appear to happen without some prompting from claimants.
    When you speak with ESA again it's worth stating you already have a determined award on UC. 
    Best of luck and please let us know how you get on. 
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope
  • KatieH1967KatieH1967 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    God morning 

    Just to update, after over an hour on hold to ESA I finally spoke to a person!

    After explaining situation and asking how I knew I was in a Support Group, the adviser confirmed that they had received the results of WCA and found it on my records. I asked for confirmation that payments would now continue on this basis due to me being in the Support Group but was informed that he was passing information on to a decision maker. He couldn’t clarify if ESA payments would continue, only that my records had been updated and he had passed the information on to the relevant department.

    Still a frustrating time and not sure if I will see a gap in ESA payments till it gets sorted and also unsure as to why results of WCA weren’t updated on ESA records as advisor confirmed it was on my records. Perhaps it slipped through net so to speak but worrying that happens to others that may not query it and just accept their decision.

    I tried to clarify if ESA award would be backdated to include higher rate of Support Component as calcotti pointed out to be aware that if they did this it would then be offset against UC and would need to be taken off my award.

    I should receive a payment on Tuesday so I’ll just have to wait and see and let you know.

    Still waiting for further correspondence from PIP following confirmation text that they received my claim form on 27 October last year. Hopefully should hear something soon.

    Thank you again and so grateful for advice and support in this group.

    You have been brilliant 😊

  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,959

    Scope community team

    Thanks for the update @KatieH1967, and I'm glad things have been sorted out- at least partially! 
    Online Community Coordinator, she/her

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