Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.
Want to give us your opinion? Complete our annual survey.

ESA & UC I just don't know what is happening

My job came to an end in February this year on the grounds of medical capability due to my anxiety and depression. I also have fibromyalgia.

When I originally claimed I was living in a non-UC area and so had ESA (contribution based) and Housing Benefit. I then applied for, got offered and moved into a flat in the same village as my mum in a full UC area in July. Between February and July the only communication I had from the DWP was reminders about fit notes.

Upon moving I had to apply for UC to get my rent paid and was advised I didn't have to do anything about my ESA as 'all the computers will talk to each other'. Within the first 10 days of moving I was called into the jobcentre 3 times, all for things I believe could have been done in one appointment. Apart from the stress of going in and making my way around an unfamiliar town, it cost £4.00 each day I was in - thats a lot out of £73.10 a week! On my third 'interview' I had a bit of a meltdown and now my work coach only holds telephone appointments with me! Anyway, on my third interview I mentioned all my bills were due to be paid on a fortnightly basis as I had changed everything when ESA started paying me this way. I was advised to get an advance and so I did. ESA then paid me as well.

So after many battles I am still getting paid ESA fortnightly and my rent is paid by UC monthly.

I have filled in ESA50 and also UC50 - but have not been called for a WCA for either - will I have to go for one for both? Even though UC are only paying the housing element?  Will one f2f count for both? Its all very confusing and no-one at DWP seems to know, when they look at notes on my case they just say 'oh' and then tell me everything will be okay.

Replies

  • CockneyRebelCockneyRebel Member Posts: 5,257 Disability Gamechanger
    As you have found out nobody knows about UC. I think that 1 f2f will cover for both when you have to have one.
    Most important is keep track of all payments and make sure that you are not receiving more than you are due as repayment can be painful
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    bionictadpole,

    Because you're now in the UC system, your ESA claim should be treated under what are called the 'new style' ESA rules. You only need to have one face to face assessment to get a valid decision, but having said that, the UC regs allow reassessments (so, even if you had one following your ESA claim first, that wouldn't stop the DWP doing another one). Let's hope though, that you just have the one - a decision about limited capability for work that can be applied in ESA and UC.

    So, if you are found to have limited capability for work at an assessment, whether that has been triggered by your ESA50 or your UC50, that decision can be applied to both your contributory ESA (which you get because you've worked until relatively recently) and your UC.

    Although Cockney Rebel is right and the Jobcentre don't seem to know what is going on, in reality there is quite a lot of guidance about what should happen in your situation (available to the DWP in something called 'Advice for Decision Making'). 

    Even though UC are only paying the housing element, your UC calculation includes an amount for you, too - the reason UC doesn't pay this is because it is covered by your ESA. If you are successful at the medical assessment (the Work Capability Assessment), your contributory ESA will go up (because you claimed before April this year, we can sure of this, as long as you are found to have limited capability for work). What happens to your UC will depend on whether you are found to have limited capability for work only (UC would stay the same even though your ESA goes up), or also found to have limited capability for work-related activity (UC would go up).

    It's good that your work coach now only requires telephone appointments. The problem in UC is that you are not 'treated as' having limited capability for work whilst you wait for your assessment. But you need to carry on submitting sick notes and explain that you are not able to look for work. Your work coach can suspend the requirement that you look for work (for at least 2 weeks, and longer if they think that is reasonable).

    As regards payment - it's great you are getting your ESA fortnightly, and it sounds as if you might be getting your rent paid direct to your landlord? (If not, this is something you can ask for, called an alternative payment arrangement). If you do get extra money in your UC in the future, then you could ask to have this paid more frequently than once a month, but there's no guarantee - you could mention your depression and anything else that makes monthly budgeting a struggle (obviously the fortnightly set up of your existing bills is an issue but I'm thinking more about your personal circumstances here).

    I hope this helps, and don't despair - how UC is supposed to work & what happens in practice don't always match up, but we can at least tell you what should happen!

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • bionictadpolebionictadpole Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Hiya, 
    Sorry for delay in responding!! 

    I was called for a WCA on 17/10/17. I had asked that it be recorded (and was handed a blooming cassette tape at the end). My assessor was pleasant and professional.

    7 days after my WCA I called the UC number to get a copy of my report to be met with obstruction and poor service. Called the ESA number and it was sent no problem! 

    The report was good, I actually started feeling sorry for whoever it was about, then realised it was me! It recommended I be placed in the LCWRA group (the Support group on ESA). 

    Now I just had to wait for the DWP Decision Maker to decide whether to go along with the report or not.  On 10th November I received not only notification that I had been placed in LCWRA group, but also my back pay.

    I have had a few issues with finding out things about prescription charges etc, so have finally got someone to say yes I am entitled to free prescriptions in writing on my online journal (duly PDF'd and saved). 

    I now still receive my ESA fortnightly, my rent is paid to my landlord monthly and my disability support element is paid monthly. I'm finding this works well for me, but I realise 'new ESA' will eventually become UC. 

    All, well most, DWP staff I have spoken to have been excellent, admitting things are changing for them on a daily basis, so don't demonise them, just speak calmly and state your case and your frustrations and, I found, they will help.
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering

    Wowzers!

    A success story and a Zen attitude to DWP staff! @bionictadpole you are an inspiration - so glad it worked out for you! 

    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    bionictadpole,

    Don't worry, 'new' ESA isn't going to be become part of UC. It's a separate benefit and will continue to be paid every two weeks. 

    I wonder if you also got a decision from the work capability assessment saying that you won't be assessed again? You should have got some statement about that. The government said this would happen to people who got assessed from late September onwards.

    So hopefully, things will stay much as they are for you, which is good as it sounds like it's working. Really pleased to hear back from you about all this.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
Sign in or join us to comment.