College and benefits — Scope | Disability forum

College and benefits

Debs221 Member Posts: 2 Listener
edited April 2018 in Education
Hello, I have an 18 year old daughter with chronic fatigue syndrome. She is recognised as disabled and is in receipt of pip. Last September she started college full time but, following a huge crash at the end of October, she was put on a reduced timetable, she studies mostly from home with work being emailed to her from her tutors and goes into college twice a week for some one to one tuition and some practical work. Child benefits are unhappy with the fact that isn't physically in class for the designated 12 hours per week and they have stopped her child benefit, as a result tax credits is also on my back. I explained to child benefits that my daughter is disabled with a chronic illness and they've sent a report to head office - I will have a decision within six weeks. Prior to starting college my daughter was out of education for twelve months due to her illness and both child benefits and tax credits agreed to continue due to an interruption in her education due to illness. I don't understand why they would be happy to support her during that time but descriminate now, she is still at college but her illness has a limiting effect on how physical she can be! I'm very confused and worried now, I am a full time carer for her but am facing losing a significant portion of my income due to her disability, surely the rules that are obviously designed for an able bodied student differ from those with a disability?
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Deborah Harrington.


  • JennysDad
    JennysDad Member Posts: 2,299 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Debs221 and a warm welcome to the community. Glad you have found us.
    What can one say about this kind of thing? The authorities seem to lack any degree of imagination until it comes to imagining ways to cut back people's benefits. I am really sorry you're having to go through this.
    Unable to advise you myself, I am going to tag in our excellent benefits advice team and they should get back to you as soon as possible - probably in the early part of the week.
    From a personal point of view, might I ask what your daughter is studying? I used to build and design learning resources, so it is a particular interest to me.
    Tagging @BenefitsTrainingCo
    Very warmest best wishes to you,
    Richard @JennysDad
  • Debs221
    Debs221 Member Posts: 2 Listener
    edited April 2018
    Hi, thanks so much @JennysDad for your support and tag. My daughter is studying a level 3 btec in small animal management. She's going to have the course extended over next year and will be continuing her one to one tuition over the summer holidays to bring her back on track. 

    I am absolutely terrified as I have discovered that her child benefit was stopped months ago and I had no idea! All that time I've been getting tax credits for her and if child benefits don't take pity on me then, I assume, I will have to pay the over payment back!

    I am trying to conduct all my conversations about this situation online as opposed to by telephone, she is also receiving medication for depression and anxiety and has a tendency towards self harming when stressed. 

    Thank you for all your help. 
  • JennysDad
    JennysDad Member Posts: 2,299 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello Deborah @Debs221 and thank you for getting back to me. Hopefully our benefits advisors will be able to offer you something over the next few days.
    Others may disagree, but I think keeping things online as far as possible is a good idea. Text documents are both records and, crucially, evidence.
    I wish I could say something, though, to ease your mind. Crucially, you've found a good place here with some excellent people and resources. We are in your corner, so you're not alone.
    And small animal management! Not something I've ever supported in, but sounds delightful. My own two small animals - cats - could use a bit of management sometimes.
    Bidding you and your daughter goodnight, with very warmest best wishes,
  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,793 Disability Gamechanger
    edited April 2018
    Hi @Debs221, and welcome to the community!

    You've already had some great advice from Richard, but I hope I can help additionally: I have moderate ME/CFS myself, and did my degree mostly from home on a reduced timetable too. I'm so sorry to hear that you and your daughter are facing this when she's doing brilliantly by remaining in education and doing things in a way that works for her.

    I wonder if you've tried contacting Action For M.E? They have a dedicated welfare line run by advisors with experience in this area. It may also be worth checking the online benefits calculator to see if there's anything else you could be claiming. Have a look, and do come back to us with any questions.

    (It also might be of interest that the ME Association are focussing on education/employment for this year's ME Awareness week, and looking for individuals' experiences- it might be a good way of getting the word out about what you're facing!)