IS as a carer: beating the 27 January closing of the SDP gateway
We have a client who has been receiving IS as a carer. He also has PIP so he is entitled to DP, EDP, and SDP as well as carer premium. He gets CA. He has never been assessed for LCW/LCWRA. Lives alone, no children.
The person he has been caring for has been in hospital and is moving permanently to a care home so his CA and IS will end. He has to decide whether to apply for ESA, JSA (“old-style” in both cases) or UC. As far as we can see there is no advantage to claiming UC. If the 27 January deadline wasn’t looming we would advise him to carry on with his IS to the end of the 8-week limit under the IS (General) Regs 1987 Sched 1B para 5 and then apply for JSA. If he subsequently discovered his capability for work was limited he could then apply for ESA. The problem is that the 8 weeks takes him past 27 January, when neither ESA or JSA will be available. So two questions: (1) can he abandon his IS award early so as to apply for JSA or ESA before 27/1/21? (2) If he opts for either legacy benefit and that doesn’t work out, but after 27/1/21, will he have no choice then but to apply for UC?
He could certainly relinquish the IS award early and still be within the scope of the SDP gateway provided that there isn’t more than a month between the IS ending and the new claim (which is conceptually difficult at this stage).
The benefit which he is on on 27/01/20 (whether that is IS, ESA or JSA) is likely to be the last legacy benefit he will ever receive as no new claim will be possible from then.
Claiming JSA has the advantage of carrying the disability premium with it but I think there is generally speaking more scope for a JSA claim to go wrong. If he were chucked off JSA for some reason, he couldn’t get back on the horse. Claiming ESA, whilst it would mean lower entitlement seems the more natural route.
An aspect of this case which is worth considering is that if he claims ESA now and gets an LCWRA assessment, then if/when he is pulled into the UC lobster pot, he will get the SDP compensation - whereas if it goes the other way round and he claims UC and gets the SDP compensation and then he is subsequently assessed as LCWRA the additional UC will erode his SDP compensation.