Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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ESA claim turned down

nanannnanann Member Posts: 7 Listener
I'm looking for advice on my current predicament. Have just been refused ESA (contribution based) due to not having paid nic or been credited with enough NICs. I began working p/t in September 2015 for 7.5 hrs a week (earning £54 p week) due to being a carer for my daughter who was on DLA. Last march I remarried and changed my job to 15 hrs a week (earning £112.50 p week) . My daughter lost her DLA when it changed to pip when she reached 16 (she has epilepsy) and she didn't want to contest it as the pip assesment really put her off.
I started to develop psoriasis on the soles of my feet last summer, I continued working by bandaging my feet up and just getting on with it ( I'm a lone cleaner in a two storey office block at night) up until a few weeks ago when I could barely walk with my feet splitting open. My gp gave me a fit note but didn't qualify for SSP from work as earnings weren't high enough. Was advised to apply for contributory ESA which I did and apparently don't qualify for due to nics. I now have psoriasis on my left hand and also up the sides of my feet as well as the soles making it impossible to go back to work. I have no income from anywhere and was told by a woman at DWP that my husband has to keep me. Honestly don't know what to do, been looking into it and from what I can tell is I've missed out on paid nic for the sake of earning 50p a week under the low wage threshold. Any advice will be greatly appreciated as I'm useless with things like this.

Replies

  • tommtomm Member Posts: 236 Pioneering
    edited May 2018
    Usually if you don't qualify for Cont based benefits  you will  sometimes qualify for income related  benefits, depending on your circumstances,   so try claiming  for that here is a link to a benefits checker,  https://www.entitledto.co.uk/

    If you are in a area that is now a  UC( universal credit ) you will have to likely claim for IR ESA via a UC claim,


  • nanannnanann Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Thanks Tomm but wouldn't qualify for it as my husband works 39 hours a week. I was told he'd have to keep me, it's not just me though its my 16 yr old daughter, pay maintenance for his 2 boys, rent, council tax and everything else on his £320 wages a week. 
  • debsidoodebsidoo Member Posts: 327 Pioneering
    Hi nanan
    Have you tried claiming working tax credits and asked the Council for extra help towards rent and council tax via a discretionary housing payment.Im not sure how they work but someone on here may have more intimate knowledge of these.
      Debsidoo.x
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    nanann,

    As your husband works full-time, your options are going to be limited. As others have indicated, depending on where you live you could try claiming either:

    Universal Credit and Council Tax Reduction 

    OR

    Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction

    Using the benefit calculator will enable you to check which option applies, and whether your overall income (you and your partner) is low enough for you to qualify. 

    It is true though that if you don't qualify for a contributory benefit, you do have to be supported by a partner you live with, and where that person is working full-time, there may not be any income-related benefit entitlement - it will depend on overall income, so use the calculator and see what it says.

    Looking at your contributory ESA entitlement, a claim you made this year would use 2015/16 and 2016/17 tax years, so your most recent job wouldn't even come into it. You should have got NI credits if you were claiming Carer's Allowance. Also, the contribution conditions for ESA are relaxed if you were entitled to Carer's Allowance in 2016/17, so that you should be able to use ANY year when you had high enough contributions to meet the first condition, and then use your credits for the second condition. For that reason, I think it is worth asking for a mandatory reconsideration of the ESA refusal.

    This will only work if you were entitled to Carer's Allowance, but it looks as if you might have been getting that? Contribution conditions are complicated, so it might be worth trying to make an appointment with your local CAB to discuss your refusal letter & help you with the MR request if they agree that you might be entitled.

    A related issue is that if your daughter did want to challenge the PIP decision (may be possible to ask for a late mandatory reconsideration (MR)) or claim again she should have a better chance now. That is because there is revised understanding of the importance of looking at risk (eg with conditions such as epilepsy) for the purposes of the PIP activities following some case law. It's still not certain she would be successful and it's hard to tell, plus of course on a repeat claim the assessment would have to be carried out again. That wouldn't be necessary if she challenges the decision she already has though, and from what you say it can't have been that long ago. You could explain why the MR request is late (because you didn't know about the case law and revised guidance on safety).

    It might be helpful to look at the PIP test with her to see what you think. Remember that she can only do something if she can do it 'safely'. If she needs supervision to be safe, points should be scored. The assessments are often wrong! If she was successful in getting any rate of the daily living component, & you are still caring for her full-time, it would be an option to go back onto Carer's Allowance.

    I hope this helps a bit!

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 273 Pioneering
    Hi Nanann

    I understand that you have been refused contributory ESA. On a claim made in 2018, this would be because you haven't paid enough NI contributions between April 2015 and April 2017. In one of those tax years, you have to  have paid some contributions, so if you haven't, then unfortunately, there is no challenge that you can make about this. 

    Regarding income-based benefits, you cannot successfully claim income-related ESA if your husband works 24 hours or more. You may get tax credits though in a non-full service universal credit area.

    With the new universal credit though, you aren't limited by the number of hours worked - this rule doesn't enter into Universal Credit. But you would have an income or means-test in order to see if you qualify.

    You can also do a benefits check on our website. (For example, even just a bit of council tax reduction might help a little bit.)

    https://www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/benefits/check

    I understand that your husband pays and probably wants to continue paying maintenance for his boys. It may be worth mentioning that he may need to negotiate a reduction in the amount he pays for the time-being on the basis that he has had a temporary change in his circumstances and has less income to play with.

    I hope that this helps a little. 

    Gill_Scope
    Benefits and Finance Specialist
    Scope Helpline 
  • nanannnanann Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Thank you for your replies. Will,  Yes I was claiming carer's allowance for my daughter up until Dec last year when she lost her dla. I know I have a about 5+years of these contribution credits. My employment history isn't good as it's only in the 80's before I married I paid in NI contributions from employment as in early 90's I was a housewife and mother. In 1992 I was struck down with the same condition I have now, so was awarded DLA indefinitely in 1993 as I had limited mobility due to my feet and hands. I gave this up in 2011 when things improved and I could manage to get about.  I went to work as a volunteer first to get me back into work and then worked a part time job as by this time my daughter was diagnosed as epileptic so I needed to be around most of the time. I increased my working hours from 7.5 to 15 hrs last year by switching jobs with a view to going full time but have been struck down again with my feet and hands.


    My daughter will not go for pip again as she hated the assesment ( she suffers with a little anxiety too) and funnily enough it was that they mentioned in the refusal letter......you say you have issues with anxiety and going places and meeting people yet you mentioned you have a good group of friends. It wasn't even to do with her epilepsy. 
    Thanks anyway.
  • nanannnanann Member Posts: 7 Listener
    I have just checked my NI contributions online and I have 32 full years up to 2016 - 2017  from NI credits, which I assume are class 1 and employment contributions from the 80's.
    I have 2 years not full which was 1989 - 1990 and 1990 - 1991.
    My letter stated that I have not paid or been credited with enough NICs, they used the tax years ending 5th April 2016 and 5th April 2017 for the decision.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 273 Pioneering
    As Will says above, it is possible then that your Carers Allowance in 2016 to 2017 means that the first condition would be relaxed and earnings in earlier tax years should count for this first contribution condition. So if you had Carers Allowance  at any point during the period April 2016 to April 2017, then it may be worth pursuing this.

    Carers Allowance contributions are class 3. Your pension statement may not specify that though.  

    The legislation that refers to the relaxation of the first contribution condition due to Carers Alowance entitlement is:

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2013/9780111531877/regulation/9

    You could quote this in your mandatory reconsideration letter. 

    I do hope that you haven't worked all that time and then missed  one of those last two tax years  that are vital to this benefit claim. Do challenge the decision, as Will explained, if you think that it's possible that you have entitlement to benefits at this point. . It's the only way to be sure that you obtain your legal entitlement, if you have one. 

    Good luck.
  • nanannnanann Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Thank you both for the information. I was in receipt of carer's allowance from the end of 2011 up until Dec 2017 so have just written to them asking for it to be looked at again, so fingers crossed. I have nothing to lose by trying. Will post any reply I get from them. Thank you again for your help as it's quite daunting not knowing which way to turn and trying to decipher the jargon and legalities lol.

    Best wishes x
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 273 Pioneering
    Fingers firmly crossed here.
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