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Reclaiming ESA rather than Universal Credit

 

Dave Feast
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Welfare Rights - Citizens Advice Bromley

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I have a client who has recently had her (IR)ESA and Housing Benefit stopped as her savings have exceeded £16,000.  This follows an arrears payment she received in May 2017 which was correctly disregarded for 52 weeks.  However, the ESA and Housing Benefit decision is now correct, so she will not be able to receive these benefits at the moment but is likely fall below the £16,000 limit in about 10 weeks time, due to having to pay her rent and living costs.  As new claimants and those with a change of circumstances may have to claim Universal Credit from 25 July 2018 in this borough, does anyone know if there is any way we can avoid this, so that she can reclaim ESA rather than UC and the horrors likely to go with that claim?  I know we could have put in a rapid reclaim within 12 weeks previously but I’m not sure that now exists.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Dave

     
Income Max
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Weymouth & Portland Citizens Advice

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If her ESA claim was kept open as credits-only then she should be able to convert it back to IR ESA even after area goes full service.

HB position depends on whether a reclaim is technically considered a new claim or reactivating an old claim. I believe it counts as new claim, so would be barred after area becomes full service.

So I think she will have to claim UC if her capital doesn’t fall below £16,000 after area becomes full-service, though she may be able to keep LCW determination if ESA claim has been kept open. Or, if she’s really desperate to avoid UC, then she could convert ESA claim back and use savings to pay rent.

Are there any debts she can pay off? This might reduce her capital earlier and doesn’t count as depreciation even if repayment not due yet as long as she has evidence that she owed the money.

     
Dan Manville
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Mental health, Wolverhampton CC Welfare Rights

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Income Max - 05 July 2018 05:41 PM

If her ESA claim was kept open as credits-only then she should be able to convert it back to IR ESA even after area goes full service.

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I would love to see your authority on that; it’s a question I’m soon going to need to wrangle. I recall a couple of years ago myself and Tom H wrangled it and we came to differing conclusions and agreed to disagree.

I happen to think you’re right but Tom didn’t and it’s all important for a small cohort of my clients.