Carer's allowance
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Pension Credit Overpayment DWP not responding

NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
edited May 18 in Carer's allowance
Please please can somebody help me? (There is no discussion section for Pension Credit so I had to choose something, so I hope there will be a response.)
Two weeks ago I got a shocking letter from the DWP saying they need me to repay £1,700 for what they claim is overpaid Pension Credit. Some of the figures they used are clearly wrong. I have tried and tried to contact them - phone calls, and last week I sent two letters by registered mail, but still no response. I now have two weeks before they force the repayment, and I am frantic.
I suffer badly with depression and anxiety and this is making me ill. I don't know where to turn. If only the DWP would contact me I could show them their error.
I was told on the first call that they would contact me within 10 days. This was over the Easter weekend so of course I had to discount five days as not "working days". Then I phoned again and was told they would phone me in five days. Still nothing.
Every day is a nightmare, waiting to hear from them. I would send them a packet of documentation, but I feel it's time and money wasted until I know who to send it to.
Their letter had NO return address, just the website, and the only phone number they gave was for "arranging to repay". I have searched online, all the usual websites and the Citizen's Advice websites. There are so many different addresses and phone numbers! It's anybody's guess where to write or call. I'm at my wit's end now. Please can someone help me?
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Replies

  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 10,049 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome 

    Sorry to hear about your situation 

    I would try and contact welfare rights they have a website and you can try find one local to you 

    They specialise in all benefit related issues 
  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Hi, thanks for your reply. I'm not sure if they can offer any help but I have just emailed the local Welfare Rights group - they only appear to offer advice on how to claim benefits and so forth, but if they have any contact addresses for me it would help.
  • chiariedschiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 8,568 Disability Gamechanger
    hi @NotCoping - & welcome to the community. I'm sorry for the distress all this is causing you. I looked online on the government's website about Pension Credit, & found the following number. Tel: 0800 731 0469 which I hope will help if you haven't tried it already. Please see: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/change-of-circumstances
    There is also a Pension Credit claim line, if that doesn't work. Tel: 0800 99 1234
    Citizen's Advice also give 0800 731 0469 as the number to ring if it has been said that you have been overpaid Pension Credit here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/pension-credit/pension-credit-appeals/if-the-pension-service-says-youve-had-a-pension-credit-overpayment/
    Please let us know how you get on. :)
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 10,049 Disability Gamechanger
    You could also try age UK 0800 99 1234

    Or pension credit claim line 0800 169 0133
  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    chiarieds said:
    hi @NotCoping - & welcome to the community. I'm sorry for the distress all this is causing you. I looked online on the government's website about Pension Credit, & found the following number. Tel: 0800 731 0469 which I hope will help if you haven't tried it already. Please see: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/change-of-circumstances
    There is also a Pension Credit claim line, if that doesn't work. Tel: 0800 99 1234
    Citizen's Advice also give 0800 731 0469 as the number to ring if it has been said that you have been overpaid Pension Credit here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/pension-credit/pension-credit-appeals/if-the-pension-service-says-youve-had-a-pension-credit-overpayment/
    Please let us know how you get on. :)
    Thank you for replying. Yes, that is the "helpline" number, almost the only number to be found these days. I have phoned there twice. There is a recorded message saying "Due to Covid, we are only taking calls relating to bereavement or a change of circumstances, if you have any other queries please call later". Not helpful!
    However, if you hang on and work through a series of choices you can end up with a human being. I was told the first time "they will call you back within ten days" - nothing. I phoned again "they will call you back within five days" - nothing.
    So then I sent recorded delivery letters with my information, both to the Pension Credit address for my postcode (found on the Gov website) and the "Fraud and Error Department".
    Now it's two weeks later - still nothing. Time is running out.
  • chiariedschiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 8,568 Disability Gamechanger
    @janer1967 - you have given the textphone number for the Pension Credit claim line
  • chiariedschiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 8,568 Disability Gamechanger
    I can't begin to imagine your frustration @NotCoping - I can only think to try the Pension Credit claim line & ask to be put through to someone who can help as a matter of urgency.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,265 Disability Gamechanger
    I’m not clear why you’re trying to contact the Pension Service. Have you submitted a mandatory reconsideration? The letter you received detailing the recoverable overpayment will have advised that this is what you do next if you disagree with the decision. Your two letters by recorded delivery may have already been treated as triggering an MR but there’s no guarantee on that so I’d be submitting a clearly labelled MR letter. The moment your MR is registered DWPs own guidance means they will cease recovery attempts until the MR is decided. Ditto if you then appeal. All the pressure is then off although Debt Management need to be contacted so they can be alerted to the MR and confirm receipt with the Pension Service. 

    I wouldn’t waste my time with any kind of special delivery at present. See here for the main reasons why but at present it’s rarely faster than normal delivery and reliability is down by about 50%.
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 3,542

    Scope community team

    Hi @NotCoping

    Sorry to read about your situation, I can understand why it has caused you distress, I hope you have coping techniques in place at the minute to effectively manage your mental health at a time like this, and fingers crossed that you will be able to get this resolved soon.

    As mentioned above, you could try contacting Age UK, in addition to the other suggestions given by members. The Money Advice Service might also be worth speaking to. And I hope the advice above from Mike about the process has been helpful for you.
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  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    I’m not clear why you’re trying to contact the Pension Service. Have you submitted a mandatory reconsideration? The letter you received detailing the recoverable overpayment will have advised that this is what you do next if you disagree with the decision. Your two letters by recorded delivery may have already been treated as triggering an MR but there’s no guarantee on that so I’d be submitting a clearly labelled MR letter. The moment your MR is registered DWPs own guidance means they will cease recovery attempts until the MR is decided. Ditto if you then appeal. All the pressure is then off although Debt Management need to be contacted so they can be alerted to the MR and confirm receipt with the Pension Service. 

    I wouldn’t waste my time with any kind of special delivery at present. See here for the main reasons why but at present it’s rarely faster than normal delivery and reliability is down by about 50%.
    I think I did explain before that I have phoned twice, using the Helpline number I found online, and was told each time that they would ask for a reconsideration, and each time was told I would be contacted, but they have not contacted me. That is why I then sent letters, but since then I have heard nothing. I have no idea what is going on or what they are doing, or IF anything has been set in motion. I need for them to tell me the basis of their claim, and to talk to someone and give them my proof. I can't do that without speaking to someone. I am suffering day after day of intense anxiety, and it's affecting my health and wellbeing. I need someone to contact me.

  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,265 Disability Gamechanger
    As per my previous post. Use the official MR form. If needs be use [email protected] That will guarantee it gets received and correctly directed. Never yet had a failure from it. You have no need to speak to anyone at all and are wasting time doing so as all you’re doing is likely speaking to an outsourced contractor not the PS. 
  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Well, despite ALL my efforts, everywhere, nobody has contacted me. And today two letters arrived, one from Debt Management telling me they are deducting the amount from my benefits, and the other from Pension Credit confirming that.
    I now have shingles, due to the intense stress and anxiety I have been suffering. I am at my wit's end. There seems like nothing I can do to stop them robbing me! Nobody will listen to me. I have emailed using the address suggested - nothing. Today I have emailed my MP in the hopes that she/they can do something.

  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,265 Disability Gamechanger
    With all due respect. 

    1 - expecting a response back from a national email address the same day is wholly unrealistic. 

    2 - if Debt Management are pursuing recovery then as far as they’re concerned there is no MR. Ring them, be polite, tell them you have lodged an MR and they will check with DWP and, if there is, they will pause recovery. If there is not then you’ve already been given the link for the MR form. 
  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,564

    Scope community team

    edited April 19
    Hi @NotCoping. I'm sorry to hear that this is still ongoing, and that it's understandably causing you so much stress. 

    Are your shingles being treated?

    You mentioned struggling with depression and anxiety, and it seems as though your anxiety is being made worse by this extra stress. Are you currently receiving any support for your mental health? 

    Did you use the email address that Mike listed above? It could take them a little longer to see it and get back to you. You could also try getting in touch with Debt Management to explain the situation. Their details are at the bottom of this gov.uk page

    Edit:

    Apologies Mike. I hadn't refreshed the page before I wrote my reply! 
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  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Hi @NotCoping. I'm sorry to hear that this is still ongoing, and that it's understandably causing you so much stress. 

    Are your shingles being treated?

    You mentioned struggling with depression and anxiety, and it seems as though your anxiety is being made worse by this extra stress. Are you currently receiving any support for your mental health? 

    Did you use the email address that Mike listed above? It could take them a little longer to see it and get back to you. You could also try getting in touch with Debt Management to explain the situation. Their details are at the bottom of this gov.uk page

    Edit:

    Apologies Mike. I hadn't refreshed the page before I wrote my reply! 
    It is no doubt the extreme stress of these past weeks that has caused the shingles. I've informed my doctor (by email as they are still not seeing anyone face to face) and since it's already been a week for the symptoms to emerge, I will treat it with painkillers. I have medications for depression as well as diabetes, so you can see my immune system is not functioning well, and also I am aged 74 so that doesn't help.

    I have recently used the email address suggested (not getting my hopes up for a reply) and today have also written to my MP as someone else suggested.

    I've sent all my supporting documentation along with the MR form by email (since my earlier letters seemed to be ignored) and I'm willing to send the same things again to the addresses on the two recent letters. I'm not good on the phone as I tend to panic. Also, all I get on the phone are more empty promises that "we will contact you" - yeah right.

    (I have twice by phone requested an MR and also in my letters - that is why the mail today shocked me so much. Clearly nothing is getting through at all. They are just acting like nothing has changed, and I despair of getting through to anyone, ever, at any stage.)

    I am ready to give up for the sake of peace and just pay them a huge sum of money that i don't really owe.
  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    With all due respect. 

    1 - expecting a response back from a national email address the same day is wholly unrealistic. 
    Mike, I think you must have misread my post because nowhere did I say I expected a reply "the same day". I don't really expect a reply at all, in fact, but I was willing to give it a try.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,265 Disability Gamechanger
    The email address I have given you will result in your email being redirected to the correct department for a response. A response is guaranteed. Not least because the correspondence address is Whitehall and everything they forward is monitored so no criticism can be levelled at them. I rarely use the address nowadays but it has never yet failed to elicit a response. 
  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    The email address I have given you will result in your email being redirected to the correct department for a response. A response is guaranteed. Not least because the correspondence address is Whitehall and everything they forward is monitored so no criticism can be levelled at them. I rarely use the address nowadays but it has never yet failed to elicit a response. 
    Thank you - that is reassuring. I have also today sent the same relevant documents to Mrs Latham my MP, and by mail to the Pension Credit Department, so that is now three more ways for the DWP to take notice. Whether or not they are willing to admit they have made mistakes is another matter.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,265 Disability Gamechanger
    I’m afraid that approach will cause havoc and likely slow things down. An MP will serve no purpose here and multiple applications could see any one of them treated as an appeal if someone decides to decide your MR against you. Were you in a rush to get to appeal? 

    When people suggest you do one thing there are specific reasons why it’s one thing. 
  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,564

    Scope community team

    How have you been getting on @NotCoping? Did you hear back from them? 
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  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    How have you been getting on @NotCoping? Did you hear back from them? 
    Thanks for asking. No, they have totally ignored me, despite my phone calls, several letters and I even contacted my local MP as well. She has heard nothing either. BUT, I needed to phone to report a "change of circumstances" so afterwards I decided to ask about this ongoing issue.

    The guy I spoke to (at last) was sympathetic and competent, and admitted nothing had been done. He said they had employed a third-party team (as I suspected) and - he was choosing his words carefully - but I got the impression he thought they were a shambles. While I was on the phone he emailed the team and basically told them to get their act together.

    Now, I have no idea if they will do anything, even so. They may just ignore it again. They have already been taking the money off my Pension Credit, which in itself is illegal if there is a mandatory reconsideration in place. But the DWP guy told me that there was no MR, so he's now going to ask for one. About time.

    At this stage I have almost resigned myself to being ignored. I don't want to, but the intense stress was too much for me and I went down with a case of shingles, which hasn't resolved even now. So I just want it all to be over.
  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Just an update, as it's nearly a month since my last post. You will not be surprised to learn that despite everything, including the DWP staff member who personally emailed the team responsible for my issue, NOTHING has been done. No phone calls, no letters, no response whatsoever. Meanwhile they go on taking my money regardless. This seems to be how the DWP acts now, and judging by other posts on this site and elsewhere, this is how they have been acting for years. Just ignore the facts, refuse to respond, and go on demanding money.
  • NotCopingNotCoping Member Posts: 11 Connected
    UPDATE number 2:  Today the dreaded brown envelope arrived, BUT, this time it was good news! Yes, finally I have had a response from the DWP - a roundabout admittance that they had calculated the overpayment wrongly, and they have therefore reduced the sum owed by two thirds.
    I am SO overjoyed, not just financially speaking, but to have them finally admit they were WRONG.
    It was worth all the work to send them the documents, and the input from the MP also must have helped. The DWP have not said anything more in their letter to explain the mistake, nor to give me any calculations even though they admit I am entitled to ask for them.
    But at the end of the day - result!!! Let this encourage any other readers to go on chipping away, and maybe finally you will get justice.
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 10,049 Disability Gamechanger
    Great news thanks for sharing 
  • chiariedschiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 8,568 Disability Gamechanger
    Very pleased that this is finally over for you @NotCoping - I hope you can now relax. :)
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,265 Disability Gamechanger
    LOL. mikehughescq said:
    The email address I have given you will result in your email being redirected to the correct department for a response. A response is guaranteed. Not least because the correspondence address is Whitehall and everything they forward is monitored so no criticism can be levelled at them. I rarely use the address nowadays but it has never yet failed to elicit a response. 
    100% confident there is only one reason for the outcome. Doubtless your MP would claim credit if asked. I’m not sure why you would think the matter is now at an end. You still have a recoverable overpayment and a right to appeal it within one month of the date of your new decision. Why would you not? 
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