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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit administration  →  Thread

UC - to claim or not to claim

James Craig
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Generalist Adviser - Citizens Advice Hammersmith & Fulham

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Client receives PIP daily living at the standard rate. Her husband is her carer and gets CA and IS. They also get HB and CTC.

It appears that the family would be around £30 per week worse off if they switched to Universal Credit, unless the client is assessed as having LCWRA, in which case they would be around £50 per week better off by switching.

Would it make sense for the client to claim NSESA in order to get a WCA carried out, and for the couple to switch to UC if and only if the client is assessed as having LCWRA? (I haven’t asked, but am almost certain that the client hasn’t made any NI contributions in recent years, so there’s no realistic chance that she would qualify for a payment of NSESA.)

Ianb
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Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

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I wouldn’t make any decisions about switching to UC until after the Budget next week after which we will, I hope, know whether the £20 coronavirus uplift to UC will be continued because that changes the numbers. Still potentially better off on UC but the difference would not be so great.

Are either of them close to pension age? If so you would also want to think about implications of becoming a MAC.

Leaving that aside, the logic of your proposition seems sound to me. However even if found to have LCWRA before claiming UC they would, as I understand it, still have to serve the three month relevant period without the LCWRA element included.

Daphne
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You don’t have to serve the three month period if you are ‘entitled to an ESA that includes the support component’ - reg 28 (5)(b) - if he’d done the nsESA claim more than three months before the UC claim would the ESA credits award count for this??

I don’t know the answer - I suspect credits is not the same as ‘entitled to an ESA’ so maybe he would still need to serve the three months as you say Ian

Ianb
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Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

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Daphne - 24 February 2021 09:37 AM

You don’t have to serve the three month period if you are ‘entitled to an ESA that includes the support component’ - reg 28 (5)(b) - if he’d done the nsESA claim more than three months before the UC claim would the ESA credits award count for this??

I don’t know the answer - I suspect credits is not the same as ‘entitled to an ESA’ so maybe he would still need to serve the three months as you say Ian

I wondered that and did a bit of checking before posting. I think it comes back to the much discussed “claiming NI credits on grounds of LCW/LCWRA is not a credits only ESA claim because no such thing exists”. Which means that there is no ESA entitlement and the three month relevant period would apply. Happy to be contradicted if others think differently.

Daphne
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That’s the conclusion I was moving towards as well Ian…

Va1der
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If you question whether the client would actually qualify for the LCWRA, there is always the risk that the element will be lost on review in the future, even if the ESA route works to “guarantee” it from the start (+3 months) of a UC claim after.

On the other hand, if you are fairly certain that they will qualify, it may be better to brave the UC claim now, and appeal while the £20 uplift will alleviate the income drop on UC without LCWRA. No telling of course how long they’d have to wait for the WCA in the present circumstances, but that applies to the ESA too.

James Craig
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Thanks for the replies. I don’t know whether you can ever be confident that someone will be found to have LCWRA under a WCA.

On the subject of the three month wait, it’s interesting that the “relevant period” in Regulation 28 will normally start on:

“the first day on which the claimant provides evidence of their having limited capability for work in accordance with the Medical Evidence Regulations.”

If one looks at the Medical Evidence Regulations, however, it can be argued that evidence only needs to be provided (under Regulation 2(1):

“in respect of each day until that person has been assessed for the purposes of the personal capability assessment or the limited capability for work assessment”

..and under UC Regulation 41(4) no such assessment would normally be carried out in respect of someone who has already been assessed as having LCWRA under the ESA Regulations. There seems to be a lacuna here, but it’s hard to know how it would be addressed in practice.