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ESA claimant joins UC claimant - both claims closed

 

 

Andrew Dutton
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Derbyshire Welfare Rights Service

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Client 1 is on IRESA and moves in with Client 2, who is on gateway UC.

Client 1 phones ESA to report the change - is told to complete an ESA3 and also to cancel Client 2’s UC.

They call UC, who cancel the claim without demur.

ESA then get back after 3 weeks - claim rejected and closed, told they must claim UC.

They have no money and UC have not yet got back to them to advise on a new claim.

My argument is that if the UC claim was closed, the ESA claim as a couple is perfectly valid as Client 2 had no UC claim and no longer fitted the gateway.

New simpler system. Huh.

Thoughts?

     
Cordelia
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Welfare Rights Officer, Wrexham Council Welfare Rights Team, Wrexham

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I think it all depends on the timing.

If partner 2 closed their UC claim before moving with partner 1, then there should have been no problem.

On the other hand if they moved in with their UC claim still live, then it would be more complex.  If there was a period, however short, when the ESA and UC claims went “head to head” I think UC would have taken priority.  So ESA saw a live UC claim and closed the income-related ESA claim.

I have ended a UC claim for a couple in similar circumstances and subsequently reclaimed legacy benefits without any problems.  Assuming that ESA is the better option I would suggest that they can now make a new claim, as they are not currently on UC.

     
Andrew Dutton
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Derbyshire Welfare Rights Service

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Timing appears to be:

Called ESA - told to close the UC claim then they will issue ESA3
Called UC who closed the claim
Called ESA back who said they could see the UC claim was closed, and so sent out ESA3

UC are now telling them they cannot claim UC as a couple, ESA are now saying they cannot claim ESA as a couple.

Complaint in train. Adviser angry. Will update.

 

     
Cordelia
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Welfare Rights Officer, Wrexham Council Welfare Rights Team, Wrexham

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But did these phone calls happen after they had moved in together?

According to CPAG a client is entitled to UC without needing to make a claim if “you are now a member of a couple, and either you or your partner (but not both of you) was entitled to UC as a single claimant and this award has now been terminated” p156

So if they moved in then phoned UC I think that UC would have started a claim for a couple award, despite his efforts to end his claim.

I imagine UC have then failed to go through all the processes of setting up claimant commitments etc. to enable them to actually make any payments.

I wish I had a different answer, but I think that you might be stuck with UC for the period from moving in together up until now.  However they could still close their UC claim at some future date and reclaim ESA.

     
alang
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Paisley South HA

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As far as I can see the clients would be unable to claim UC now as they do not meet the gateway conditions for UC live, so its definitely ESA. Whilst the complaint is getting dealt with have you attempted lodge a new claim for ESA as new claims for UC cannot be taken for couples or people not fit for work in a UC live area.

However, at the time, I think it was misadvice from ESA as they should have been advised to close ESA claim and go through a COC for UC.

     
Andrew Dutton
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Just to add to the fun, folks, UC have now told the couple that they never closed down Client 2’s claim, oh and by the way he’s sanctioned for three months. No reason given.

What a stupid mess.

PS I think it’s UC C&P Regs 9(8) - as Cordelia says, it looks as if the single UC claim closes and they are treated as making a joint UC claim.

So why didn’t DWP know that….?

      [ Edited: 13 Jan 2017 at 10:12 am by Andrew Dutton ]