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Opting off Carer Element of UC when transitional payments may apply for both members of a couple

Dominic Milne
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RNIB Legal Rights Service

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A case of mine involves a couple who were moved onto UC in June 2018, losing in the process a double SDP. They (understandably) maximised their much-diminished UC income by claiming the Carer Element to go with the LCWRA element. They have now been awarded the transitional payment of £120 per month. This is significantly less than the transitional award would be if there had been no Carer Element on their UC. The regulations state that in the case of joint claimants, the £405 is payable, if the higher SDP rate was payable and no person has since become a carer for either of them. The query is - if the carer in the couple chose to stop being the carer as such, thus ending their receipt of the Carer Element in the UC, would that enable the higher rate of transitional amount to be paid? The specific wording of the regulation is: “£405, if the higher SDP rate was payable and no person has since become a carer for either of them.” I suspect the key word here may be “since”. Any experiences or thoughts would be welcome.

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Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

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The issue is more the wording at the start of that paragraph: “... calculated by reference to the date of the determination ...”.

The government’s intention was for the transitional SDP amount to hardly ever change. For example, even if the PIP stops, they will still continue to receive it. The only change that can be made is that mentioned in paragraph 4, if the LCWRA element starts being paid.