Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Living with a partner & losing benefits?

DarlingNikkiDarlingNikki Member Posts: 5 Listener
Hi, I'm in bits honestly and can't understand what's happened.

I started claiming ESA in 2017 and was entitled to contributory based ESA. I claimed this until my partner left last year in July. 

In July 2020 I was advised by my local DAB to try and a top-up on my benefits as I was struggling and need help at home. I was award a Severe Disability Premium, and my benefit was means tested, meaning I could pay for the assistance I need. I am and have always been in the support group.

I started dating someone recently and we have discussed living together. 

Today I called the DWP and was told, in July last year, all of my ESA had been been changed to income-related - and therefore, if I ever lived with someone again, I would lose my benefit (as long as they were working as it's means tested). And that actually, I would go onto Universal Credit as a 'migration' would be triggered. 

How have I lost my entitlement to contributory based ESA? I'm so upset and I don't understand how I could survive on PIP only. I would have been better off never trying to get more help, as I didn't realise it would cancel my qualifying for contributory based and remove my option to ever live with anyone again.

Any help would be appreciated! I'm expecting a call back from DWP within 3 days to 'explain' what's happened.

Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,798 Disability Gamechanger
    hi @DarlingNikki good afternoon and welcome to scope.

    Don't take this personally but you say you have started dated someone recently and you have already discussed living together, I would want to be more sure of a relationship especially when it could complicate your benefit claims.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • DarlingNikkiDarlingNikki Member Posts: 5 Listener
    edited April 12
    Yes, we have been seeing each other since last year. And this was more a sounding out of what the situation would be, for us to consider our options. Definitely not just jumping in. 
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 1,252 Pioneering
    DarlingNikki said: Today I called the DWP and was told, in July last year, all of my ESA had been been changed to income-related - and therefore, if I ever lived with someone again, I would lose my benefit (as long as they were working as it's means tested). And that actually, I would go onto Universal Credit as a 'migration' would be triggered. 
    Even if your ESA was all income based moving in with a partner would not necessarily end your ESA. It would depend on your joint circumstances. The only situation which would definitely end the income based ESA is if the partner was already claiming UC.
    DarlingNikki said: How have I lost my entitlement to contributory based ESA? I'm so upset and I don't understand how I could survive on PIP only. I would have been better off never trying to get more help, as I didn't realise it would cancel my qualifying for contributory based and remove my option to ever live with anyone again.
    If you have been in the Support group throughout then your entitlement to contribution based ESA should sill exist and you have been misinformed. The award would be part contribution based and part income based. If you have been in the WRAh contribution based entitlement would end after 365 days in WRAG.



    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • DarlingNikkiDarlingNikki Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thank you @calcotti
    I’m honestly so confused. The person I spoke to at DWP seemed convinced I’d be automatically migrated to UC and reassessed. She kept saying they were or would
    all be new claims, and they’re not accepting new ESA claims. I got so overwhelmed I couldn’t process things anymore. I will contact DAB again, and wouldn’t do anything without support.
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,798 Disability Gamechanger
    Might be worth contacting your local welfare rights team, they could put your mind at rest.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 1,252 Pioneering
    edited April 12
    DarlingNikki said: She kept saying they were or would
    all be new claims, and they’re not accepting new ESA claims. I got so overwhelmed I couldn’t process things anymore. I will contact DAB again, and wouldn’t do anything without support.
    It is correct that they are not accepting new claims. However although moving in with a partner is a change of circumstances it does not require a new claim. The claim would be re assessed based on your joint circumstances. The exception is, as per my previous post, if the partner is claiming Uc in which case you will need to be added to their UC claim and your income based ESA would end.

    You should not rely on what DWP phone operatives tell you. They are not benefit advisers often provide incorrect information.

    What ESA group have you been in?
    What are your partner's circumstances?
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • DarlingNikkiDarlingNikki Member Posts: 5 Listener
    That's awesome. Thank you so much for your support. I've always been in the support group (since my first payment in 2017).
    My partner is currently living alone, working full-time, and renting. He's talking about buying a property this year, which is what sparked the conversation. He doesn't claim any benefits. 
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 1,252 Pioneering
    That's awesome. Thank you so much for your support. I've always been in the support group (since my first payment in 2017).
    In that case you have been misinformed. If you initially qualified for contribution based ESA and have been in the Support Group ever since being first assessed you remain entitled to contribution based ESA. You will be receiving some income based ESA in addition (and as a consequence DWP will refer to the award as an income based award but that label is not a description of the entirety of he award).
    DarlingNikki said:My partner is currently living alone, working full-time, and renting. He's talking about buying a property this year, which is what sparked the conversation. He doesn't claim any benefits. 
    If you move in with your partner you will have to inform ESA. Your partner will be added to your income based ESA calculation and their capital and savings taken into account. As a consequence your entitlement to income based ESA may well end. Your contribution based ESA would continue.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • DarlingNikkiDarlingNikki Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thank you so much. I will try and address this with DWP. Really helped me out out today. Thank you again ♥️ 
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 1,252 Pioneering
    By way of confirmation
    https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/your-esa-claim
    ‘New style’ and contribution-based ESA last for 365 days if you’re in the work-related activity group.
    There’s no time limit if you’re in the support group, or if you’re getting income-related ESA.


    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
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