Search rightsnet
Search options

Where

Benefit

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction

From

to

Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit administration  →  Thread

Universal Credit and retirement

 1 2 > 

Ruth.R
forum member

Advice & Intervention, Pobl, Newport

Send message

Total Posts: 14

Joined: 7 December 2018

My client has been in receipt of UC for about 18 months.  His AP ends 21.7.19.  He reached State Pension age on 6.7.19.  Due to receiving SRP, he has been given a nil award for the period.  However, this means that he was 15 days without an income. 

Of course I know that income received during an AP reduces the UC award.  In this case though, should his UC claim not have been terminated with effect from 5.7.19?  Surely at the AP date he would have been regarded as ineligible for UC anyway because of his age. 

Any ideas how:
a)  we can alleviate the situation? 
b)  how to ensure that a client receives the maximum/ payment for the full time on each benefit?

Fortunately this tenant’s housing costs are paid by HB;  a person retiring just before the AP date might end up without almost a full month’s rent as well as reduced income.  Would requesting SRP 4 weekly instead of weekly have made a difference, bearing in mind that the payment date might have been outside the UC AP.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

HB Anorak
forum member

Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

Send message

Total Posts: 2166

Joined: 12 March 2013

The problem isn’t the SRP income (or at least it shouldn’t be): there is no conceivable way in which SRP entitlement can overlap with a UC AP for a single person.

What has happened here is that UC has terminated as a consequence of the claimant reaching pension age and it has been taken back to the start of the AP in which it happened as a normal change of circumstance.  The only way round that is to apply for Pension Credit in advance and then the final UC AP will be a part month running up to the pension age date.  If you don’t make the advance SPC claim, you lose a part month of UC.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
forum member

Information and advice resources - Age UK

Send message

Total Posts: 2062

Joined: 7 January 2016

Except where they carry on paying UC past State Pension age, as in various cases we keep coming across regularly at the moment.

Ruth.R
forum member

Advice & Intervention, Pobl, Newport

Send message

Total Posts: 14

Joined: 7 December 2018

HB Anorak - 22 July 2019 03:47 PM

The problem isn’t the SRP income (or at least it shouldn’t be): there is no conceivable way in which SRP entitlement can overlap with a UC AP for a single person.

What has happened here is that UC has terminated as a consequence of the claimant reaching pension age and it has been taken back to the start of the AP in which it happened as a normal change of circumstance.  The only way round that is to apply for Pension Credit in advance and then the final UC AP will be a part month running up to the pension age date.  If you don’t make the advance SPC claim, you lose a part month of UC.

When I spoke to the UC agent this morning, he told me that the claim was still live and asked if my client wanted to terminate it.  He refused to backdate the closure of the claim to 5.7.19 and stated that the whole of the AP would apply even though my client’s retirement date was 6.7.19. 

As it happens, I did assist him to apply for PC Guarantee back in April, but surely the PC won’t be paid for a period before his retirement age?  It seems that this tenant is going to lose his entitlement to benefit for the 15 days up to his retirement date. 

How can we address this situation and also prevent others from losing out also?

Ruth.R
forum member

Advice & Intervention, Pobl, Newport

Send message

Total Posts: 14

Joined: 7 December 2018

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 22 July 2019 03:48 PM

Except where they carry on paying UC past State Pension age, as in various cases we keep coming across regularly at the moment.

This is exactly what has happened to my client.  Were you able to resolve the issue?

HB Anorak
forum member

Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

Send message

Total Posts: 2166

Joined: 12 March 2013

As it happens, I did assist him to apply for PC Guarantee back in April, but surely the PC won’t be paid for a period before his retirement age?  It seems that this tenant is going to lose his entitlement to benefit for the 15 days up to his retirement date.

OK, so in that case he should be entitled to UC for a short assessment period up to the date he reached SPC age, but not thereafter.  If they have paid nothing at all by way of UC since 21 June, they owe him a couple of weeks.  Pension Credit will then seamlessly pick up the reins from the 6th.  Having claimed SPC in advance he shouldn’t have to be responsible for organising all this himself, but unfortunately it looks as if he will have to do DWP’s job for them.

When I spoke to the UC agent this morning, he told me that the claim was still live and asked if my client wanted to terminate it.  He refused to backdate the closure of the claim to 5.7.19 and stated that the whole of the AP would apply even though my client’s retirement date was 6.7.19.

.  This is garbage

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
forum member

Information and advice resources - Age UK

Send message

Total Posts: 2062

Joined: 7 January 2016

Ruth.R - 22 July 2019 04:11 PM
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 22 July 2019 03:48 PM

Except where they carry on paying UC past State Pension age, as in various cases we keep coming across regularly at the moment.

This is exactly what has happened to my client.  Were you able to resolve the issue?

It’s been a fairly tortorous process. However, I note you say your client has already made a claim for Pension Credit whereas in our cases, this has mostly been missed.

We’ve not had anyone knocked out of entitlement to UC completely so far but we’ve advised that once PC award is in place, close UC claim at end of next AIP with entry on online journal and then follow up with telephone call a couple of days later to confirm this has been actioned. Also screenshot the online journal entry confirming UC award closed as that can mean the local authority HB department will deal with HB claim - ask for maximum backdating on that as well.

So far, we’ve not heard about any follow-up UC overpayment recovery but that does remain a real possibility.

Ruth.R
forum member

Advice & Intervention, Pobl, Newport

Send message

Total Posts: 14

Joined: 7 December 2018

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 22 July 2019 04:35 PM
Ruth.R - 22 July 2019 04:11 PM
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 22 July 2019 03:48 PM

Except where they carry on paying UC past State Pension age, as in various cases we keep coming across regularly at the moment.


We’ve not had anyone knocked out of entitlement to UC completely so far but we’ve advised that once PC award is in place, close UC claim at end of next AIP with entry on online journal and then follow up with telephone call a couple of days later to confirm this has been actioned. Also screenshot the online journal entry confirming UC award closed as that can mean the local authority HB department will deal with HB claim - ask for maximum backdating on that as well.

The trouble is that there’s a 10 week delay on our PC claims from Swansea, not sure about elsewhere.  Even though I did the application at the beginning of April, I was told that they wouldn’t look at it earlier than his retirement date, presumably because he might have other income then.  This means that he won’t get his PC for another 8 weeks-ish.  I have tried to chase it up twice, but the email sent to the team is not replied to for 10 days, that agent said.

There must surely be a way of getting the UC to the retirement date as he wouldn’t be eligible for UC once over working age anyway!

Jon (CHDCA)
forum member

Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

Send message

Total Posts: 1291

Joined: 16 June 2010

As Mr Anorak has said, one of the exceptions to the general rule that “a superseding decision made on the ground of a change of circumstances takes effect from the first day of the assessment period in which that change occurred or is expected to occur” is this:

26.  Where, in any assessment period, a claimant—

(a)reaches the qualifying age for state pension credit under the State Pension Credit Act 2002(4); and
(b)has made an advance claim for an award of state pension credit,
a superseding decision made in consequence of the person reaching that age takes effect on the date on which that change of circumstances occurs or is expected to occur.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/381/schedule/1/made

I guess that the decision on the AP just ended can be subject to MR, on the basis that the above rule wasn’t applied to it..? Though if admin delays mean there is as yet no evidence to hand that the advance PC claim was actually made, then I can see it’s going to be messy. Even if they do find the bit of the ADM that describes this rule - I assume it exists?

edit: a previous relevant thread: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/12265

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 306

Joined: 24 November 2017

I am perplexed as to why the legislation was drafted such that this only applies to people who make an advance claim for Pension Credit and not to all people reaching pension age.

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 616

Joined: 27 February 2019

Jon (CHDCA) - 22 July 2019 05:23 PM

Even if they do find the bit of the ADM that describes this rule - I assume it exists?

A4238 and B1027.

Ruth.R
forum member

Advice & Intervention, Pobl, Newport

Send message

Total Posts: 14

Joined: 7 December 2018

  Where, in any assessment period, a claimant—

(a)reaches the qualifying age for state pension credit under the State Pension Credit Act 2002(4); and
(b)has made an advance claim for an award of state pension credit,
a superseding decision made in consequence of the person reaching that age takes effect on the date on which that change of circumstances occurs or is expected to occur.
[/quote]

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/381/schedule/1/made

Thank you all for your assistance with this.  One final question… thinking of people turning state pension credit age in the future. does (b) above mean an award must be payable OR does one just have to make an application to PC for this to apply?  Or will only future case law define this clause?

[ Edited: 23 Jul 2019 at 12:07 pm by Ruth.R ]
Jon (CHDCA)
forum member

Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

Send message

Total Posts: 1291

Joined: 16 June 2010

Charles - 22 July 2019 07:52 PM
Jon (CHDCA) - 22 July 2019 05:23 PM

Even if they do find the bit of the ADM that describes this rule - I assume it exists?

A4238 and B1027.

Thanks! I have no real evidence, but tend to think that citing the ADM carries more weight at the MR stage, and the possibility of an early win is generally the best outcome for a client.

Jon (CHDCA)
forum member

Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

Send message

Total Posts: 1291

Joined: 16 June 2010

Ruth.R - 23 July 2019 12:05 PM

  One final question… thinking of people turning state pension credit age in the future. does (b) above mean an award must be payable OR does one just have to make an application to PC for this to apply?  Or will only future case law define this clause?

It doesn’t read like an award must be made, does it.
In any event, I suppose there won’t be many scenarios where someone gets UC but won’t qualify for PC.

Ruth.R
forum member

Advice & Intervention, Pobl, Newport

Send message

Total Posts: 14

Joined: 7 December 2018

Success!

Just an update on my client’s case: 

I have been trying to get this matter resolved all this time.  I just thought I’d fill you in as you have all been so helpful.

The agents I have spoken to have all been unhelpful stating the usual Spiel that the SRP is deducted from the UC at the end of the assessment period and they maintained that the original outcome was correct.  One agent did listen and sent an email to escalate it to the team who were supposed to phone my client back in 48 hours on the 2nd August.  He still has not received a call. 

The complaint letter plus consent form that I posted 2 weeks ago seems to have disappeared as there was no consent form attached to his case to allow the agent yesterday to speak to me.  His response when I remarked that surely it would be attached by now was “Well you’d like to think so, but this is Universal Credit”!  I am always told the same thing about being my stance wrong.

Today, with my client in attendance, I rang again and went through the same process.  “Our policy is…..”.  I insisted on speaking to a manager , who insisted their actions were correct.  I explained that their policy is incorrect and quoted the legislation, (thank you all) which she looked at and said she had never seen this before.  She told me that my client would have been entitled to PC in February, but this was his 65th birthday, so I had to explain that the PC age was in line with the SRP age and that this is no longer 65.  Again she had to check.  Then she asked when we had applied for PC - answer April.  “So does this mean that UC is payable from the 21st June to 5th July?” (- beginning of AP to retirement date).  At last!  This was a manager in Belfast.

She assured me this would be corrected.  I asked when my client could expect to receive the payment, she said she hoped it would be some time next week, but she would have to find out who might be able to do the calculation of what was owed!

I told her that her agents are not giving the correct information and suggested that they should be asking whether the person reaching retirement date had applied for PC before stating categorically that their UC claim continued past retirement age.  I hope this will alleviate the situation for other new retirees in the future. 

I have learned to always apply for PC even if I don’t think the person might be entitled in order for them to fall under this legislation.  What will happen in practice as to the definition of the clause will no doubt be tested by case law.

Thanks again!

Ruth.R
forum member

Advice & Intervention, Pobl, Newport

Send message

Total Posts: 14

Joined: 7 December 2018

To update… I thought I had been successful, but my client informed me yesterday that he had still not received the money.  We rang today to discover that, although the manger had emailed the link to the legislation through to the DM, that DM had issued a decision notice exactly the same, that the SRP was taken into account thus nilling the UC award.

Today’s agent emailed urgently the request to the DM again today.

Either the person is ignoring and unaware of the legislation or, quite possibly, unaware that people now do not retire at 65.  I have had to correct that notion in a few discussions with services dealing with under pension age clients.

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 616

Joined: 27 February 2019

Ianb - 22 July 2019 05:52 PM

I am perplexed as to why the legislation was drafted such that this only applies to people who make an advance claim for Pension Credit and not to all people reaching pension age.

See this recent parliamentary question.

[ Edited: 27 Oct 2019 at 11:25 am by Charles ]
Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 306

Joined: 24 November 2017

Charles - 27 October 2019 10:51 AM

See this recent parliamentary question.

Thanks, Charles. That parliamentary response is going to be near the top of any list of meaningless replies that completely miss the point of the question.

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 616

Joined: 27 February 2019

True. I had originally posted “See this recent parliamentary answer.”, but then edited it for that reason!

Benny Fitzpatrick
forum member

Welfare Rights Officer, Southway Housing Trust, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 528

Joined: 2 June 2015

I had a client with this problem earlier this year. He reached Pension age in October 2018, but continued to be paid UC (LCWRA) until March 2019. I too ran into a brick wall with the UC contact centres, who persisted with ever more ludicrous excuses as to why UC was still in payment after pension age, and refused to admit their mistake, until the matter was escalated through the MP and Partnership Manager, and by my actually having to send them a copy of the WRA 2012 with the relevant bits highlighted. Cue a reluctant climbdown, and £50 compensation payment.

I was told in the response to my complaint, that the UC computer does not recognise when someone reaches retirement age, and does not communicate with the Pension Service computers. (More 21st Century IT wizardry from DWP. Exactly how much is this useless system costing us?).

Disturbingly, despite our having repeatedly queried the continued payment of LCWRA from the date of retirement, Jobcentre Plus could not confirm that the UC systems would not raise an overpayment and seek to claw back every penny, even though the overpayment was caused by their own incompetence and inefficiency. So far this has not happened, but I fully expect to have to deal with it at some point.

12 months down the line, we have only just managed to get the HB claim activated (which we submitted back in Oct 2018) and backdating applied-offset against UC housing costs already paid.

Universal Credit. The gift that keeps on giving! (Even when it’s supposed to stop!)

HB Anorak
forum member

Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

Send message

Total Posts: 2166

Joined: 12 March 2013

The Council should have paid the HB in full - the claimant is perfectly entitled to it.  It’s UC that has been overpaid, which is not the Council’s problem.  You cannot be entitled to HB and UC at the same time, but he isn’t - there is no entitlement to UC after reaching SPC age.

What I would have done is paid all the HB but told the claimant to expect DWP to catch up with him in due course and advised him not to treat the money as a windfall.

Amazing that the UC system doesn’t have this simple validation: single person of SPC age or a couple both of SPC age cannot under any circumstances be entitled to UC.

Benny Fitzpatrick
forum member

Welfare Rights Officer, Southway Housing Trust, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 528

Joined: 2 June 2015

HB Anorak, I absolutely agree. Unfortunately, the tenant dropped off the radar after lodging the HB claim. As far as he was concerned, rent was being paid, so he saw no reason to approach us, although it transpired that the claim for HB had been refused due to his being in receipt of UC! He didn’t contact us until the March of 2019, having received a UC50, at which point the problem became apparent. I had to request an anytime revision of the HB refusal, which was granted, but from the date payment of UC stopped. Should UC raise an overpayment, I will request a full HB backdate, again under anytime revision.

Andrew Dutton
forum member

Welfare rights service - Derbyshire County Council

Send message

Total Posts: 1645

Joined: 12 October 2012

Does this curiously-worded statement from the very end of the recent Work and Pensions Committee hearing have any bearing on this subject - ? Is he saying they know there is a problem and they are going to fix it?

John-Paul Marks: The only extra bit of reassurance I can provide is that one advantage of universal credit means that if someone makes a claim for an entitlement, they get all six elements they are entitled to, such as housing benefit, JSA or tax credits. When circumstances change, we have a project working on pension credit, and long term it would be strategic for someone to reach pension age and move on to pension entitlement without having to make a new claim. Then you would get the automatic take-up of pension credit. Strategically, long term this would be about re-platforming pension credit so that it passports automatically from universal credit into state pension age.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
forum member

Information and advice resources - Age UK

Send message

Total Posts: 2062

Joined: 7 January 2016

Thanks Andrew, do you have a link to the session in question?

Andrew Dutton
forum member

Welfare rights service - Derbyshire County Council

Send message

Total Posts: 1645

Joined: 12 October 2012

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-pensions-committee/the-work-of-the-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions/oral/106392.html

Q362 onwards. He is not exactly answering the issues raised in this thread and he is not exactly using any recognisable language, but is there something buried in here….?

Andrew Dutton
forum member

Welfare rights service - Derbyshire County Council

Send message

Total Posts: 1645

Joined: 12 October 2012

I wondered if this may address the issue raised by Benny -

‘the UC computer does not recognise when someone reaches retirement age, and does not communicate with the Pension Service computers. (More 21st Century IT wizardry from DWP. Exactly how much is this useless system costing us?).’

Mike Hughes
forum member

Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

Send message

Total Posts: 2256

Joined: 17 June 2010

I seem to recall Neil Couling telling GMWRAG that it was the specific intent that the UC IT would not communicate with any legacy (or is it now heritage?) system.

This sort of mess is what you then end up with.

Anyone remember when retirement was a thing that just happened? Adding layers of complexity to the point when you take people out of the labour market system is just beyond words.

HB Anorak
forum member

Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

Send message

Total Posts: 2166

Joined: 12 March 2013

There are two problems here.  Building the UC system in a vacuum without any backwards compatibility to carry over data seamlessly from legacy systems is one thing - we might question the wisdom of that, but at least it is a conscious policy choice.  But the lack of age validation is just inexcusable sloppy programming

Mike Hughes
forum member

Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

Send message

Total Posts: 2256

Joined: 17 June 2010

I doubt it’s “sloppy programming” to be honest. I have had, for various reasons, some insight over the years into the IT work of DWP. In this instance I think we can be reasonably confident that it’s another example of an issue that DWP simply haven’t raised with the contractor. No-one is going to code for it if it’s not part of the specification in the first place.

The need to connect to legacy systems was explicitly not part of the specification and would also be why some of the contractors on this work persisted. You can just imagine their pouty faces had they been asked to connect UC to “how many” legacy systems!!! All have been burned several times over with DWP on that front. If it was your company would you bear the risk of another high profile failure? DWP needed their IT contractor to come out of this one smelling of roses and at minimum being able to say “That bit works!”. 

It would then be perverse for DWP to say “Ah, but going forward, at pensionable age people will need to move seamlessly from UC into retirement and that will mean, er, connecting to a legacy system”.

Outside the bubble it makes no sense at all. Inside the bubble it was the only way UC IT was ever going to happen.

Benny Fitzpatrick
forum member

Welfare Rights Officer, Southway Housing Trust, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 528

Joined: 2 June 2015

Two aspects of my case astounded me:
1) SRP was included as income in the UC calculation. Yet no alarm bells rang at JCP. This leads into the second point…..

2) When the issue was raised via the client’s online journal, we had a session of “ping-pong” during which various excuses were employed to justify continuing payment of UC. Including, “He is in receipt of the LCWRA component, so he must continue on UC, AND undergo full LCW conditionality”. There appeared to be absolutely no knowledge of the WRA 2012 among contact OR service centre staff. It was only when I actually sent the local Partnership Manager a copy of the act with the relevant clauses highlighted (and the client’s MP cc’d in), that we got a result.

I find it extraordinary that staff who are responsible for the delivery of government policy are not familiar with the relevant legislation (and, let’s face it, this isn’t some obscure detail, but a BASIC condition of entitlement.) In addition, the first resort of attempting to justify themselves with ridiculous excuses, rather than acknowledge their error, I find appalling (although sadly familiar). I guess this is what happens when you allow the IT (warts and all) to over-ride human decision making. With the current drive toward digitisation of benefits, this does not bode well for the future.

Mike Hughes
forum member

Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

Send message

Total Posts: 2256

Joined: 17 June 2010

Anyone remember stupidsanctions.tmblr.com? More recently there was https://guerillawire.org/welfare/a-selection-of-especially-stupid-sanctions.

Very easy to underestimate the importance of that small amount of detail going viral for a while on social media.  The first hint of a change of mind on sanctions came in the face of a social media onslaught. Doubtless many other worthy reports contributed but I’d argue it was this one small idea which turned the tide when the wider public, who previously supported sanctions, could no longer avoid the reality.

It strikes me that what gets written on UC Journals is ripe for exactly the same kind of treatment.