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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Work capability issues and ESA  →  Thread

Claim new-style ESA or wait for WCA in UC?

Va1der
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Welfare Support Worker - Community Renewal Edinburgh

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Joined: 7 May 2019

My client was advised by JCP to claim UC, despite having made sufficient NI contributions.

I had advised him to claim new-style, but due to his health conditions and poor time keeping skills, we have not been able to get around to it, and his UC claim has progressed to a stage where he has received a UC50, due in late October.

Would a claim for new-style have any impact on the WCA (i.e. would the same WCA just be scheduled for ESA instead), and is there any benefit to claiming it in any event?

Client has numerous issues, and his conditions mean appointments will be few and irregular, so I’m nut sure if this is worth attention. In his current circumstances LCWWRA seems fair.

Ianb
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Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

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If the UC is going to be more than the ESA there is no financial gain claiming both. Would get Class 1 NI credits on ESA whereas only Class 3 on UC. This might be useful if he, say returns to work for a bit, but then needs to make a new claim. Also worth having a contribution based benefit if there is likelihood of any change in circumstances which could reduce the UC entitlement to below the ESA entitlement. If none of these matter/apply then for many people I think claiming both is unnecessary effort.
Even if both are claimed only one WCA should be carried out.

If LCWRA is established UC will be worth more than ESA if there is no other income/relevant savings to be taken into account.

Vonny
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Welfare rights adviser - Social Inclusion Unit, Swansea

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new-style ESA can be backdated for 3 months and paid fortnightly and has the added security of the claim not being closed just because you didn’t notice there was a box to click to confirm your claimant commitment even if you have been found to have no work related requirements

AlexJ
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Trafford Welfare Rights

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In this scenario I would personally always advise people to claim ESA alongside the UC, regardless of whether any changes are anticipated. As mentioned in a previous post, the ESA will be payable regardless of his income or capital. Even if he’s not anticipating a change in his income, you never know what could happen - a distant aunt passes away, has no surviving relatives and your client inherits from her estate, or your client moves in with a partner who works or has substantial capital.

I’ve come across the DWP telling people only to claim UC, not ESA in this kind of scenario because it won’t make any difference to their current income, and I think it’s very bad form as it could leave the claimant substantially out of pocket if they do have a change of circs in the future, at which point it may be too late to draw on their NI conts to get NSESA. Ultimately, I think the general motto should be, if you’re eligible for it, make a claim for it.

Cheers

Alex

Jon (CHDCA)
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Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

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I used to routinely tell people to claim NS-ESA as well as UC, on the basis that it can’t make you any worse off. Then I encountered a claimant who did become worse off overall by claiming the contributory benefit, because it floated her off UC entirely, which then caused her Council Tax Reduction to be calculated differently leading to a big drop. So now I try to be a bit more cautious about doing the benefit checks…

Ianb
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Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

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Jon (CHDCA) - 15 October 2019 12:38 PM

I used to routinely tell people to claim NS-ESA as well as UC, on the basis that it can’t make you any worse off. Then I encountered a claimant who did become worse off overall by claiming the contributory benefit, because it floated her off UC entirely, which then caused her Council Tax Reduction to be calculated differently leading to a big drop. So now I try to be a bit more cautious about doing the benefit checks…

And if floated off UC no passported benefits either.

Va1der
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Welfare Support Worker - Community Renewal Edinburgh

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I generally prefer contribution based benefits, if nothing else because fewer requirements means less chance of JCP/DWP or client errors.

If memory serves, UC SA is technically a few pence higher than main phase ns-JSA/ESA, so would remain payable in most circumstances (one of the rare advantages of UC over legacy). However, this all creates both a higher caseload for the adviser, and more potential for something to go wrong, so which option is better should be decided on a case-by-case basis, which presumably most advisers will do regardless.