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Joint Claims - which Assessment Period is used?

MartinB
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Hello

S0, if 2 single UC claimants (with different assessment periods) become a couple and make a joint claim for UC, whose assessment period (AP) is used in the merged claim?

I’m thinking that it might be the AP of the person who first reported the change?

Does anybody know?

Thanks

Martin

[ Edited: 4 Aug 2021 at 01:28 pm by MartinB ]
Elliot Kent
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Strictly two people who are both on UC who form a couple both have their existing awards ended and become entitled to an award as a couple without requiring a claim.

Reg 21(3A) UC Regs says:

(3A) Where a new award is made to members of a couple jointly without claim by virtue of regulation 9(6)(b) or (7) of the Claims and Payments Regulations (two previous awards have ended when the claimants formed a couple) each assessment period for the new award begins on the same day of each month as the assessment period for whichever of the old awards ended earlier.

So that would suggest that if you have a couple of A and B where A’s AP runs from 10th - 9th and B’s AP runs from 22nd - 21st and they form a couple on 04/08/21, A’s award would end from 10/07/21 and B’s award would end from 22/07/21. As A’s award ended before B’s, the joint award would adopt A’s payment schedule and the first AP would be 10/07/21 - 09/08/21.

However this is not how it is explained in the ADM which says:

A2037 Where awards of UC to single claimants are terminated because they form a couple who are joint claimants, an award of UC may be made without the need for a claim1. The new assessment period can be nominated by the claimant or if they fail to nominate one, the one which the DM determines2.

Example
Dave, a single claimant, is in receipt of UC. His first assessment period started on 7 June. He becomes a member of a couple when he moves in with Poppy on 28 August. Poppy is also in receipt of UC. Her assessment period runs from the 14th of the month. Dave’s award of UC is terminated from 7 August. Poppy’s award of UC is terminated from 14 August. An award of UC is made to Dave and Poppy without the need for a claim. The joint award takes effect from 7 August as this is the date nominated by them (see ADM Chapter E2 regarding the date of nomination for the start of the new award).

1. UC, PIP, JSA & ESA (C&P) Regs, reg 9(7);
2 UC Regs, reg 21(4)

I think that the ADM is in error on this because it has not taken account of the fact that reg 21 was substantially redrafted by SI 2014/2887 in line with the implementation of “digital service” and reg 21(4) doesn’t exist anymore. It seems correct that Dave and Poppy’s joint award takes effect from 7 August but this isn’t because it was nominated by the claimants.

[ Edited: 4 Aug 2021 at 01:34 pm by Elliot Kent ]
MartinB
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Thanks, Elliot

Reg 21seems clear, but it looks like DWP will still allow claimant’s to nominate the AP (which I suppose is good, albeit incorrect).  Funny that the ADM refers to a reg that no longer exists!

It’s good to know this to advise on the timing of the change.

Thank you for your help,

Martin

Charles
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I think they’ve simply forgotten to update the ADM. I don’t believe DWP allow claimants to nominate which AP to use.

See also page 4 here:
http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2020-0646/100._New_claims_v15.0.pdf

Elliot Kent
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Charles - 04 August 2021 10:36 PM

I think they’ve simply forgotten to update the ADM.

Yes I think that is probably it. I also don’t really see how nomination is supposed to work. If Dave and Poppy decided to keep Poppy’s AP so that the joint award began on 14th August, what would happen to the potential entitlement between 7-13 August?

Anyways, I thought it was worth drawing out as a curiosity. Sometimes the DWP pick up on things that are raised here and fix them so who knows.

UB40
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Prior to Dave and Poppy tying the knot, they would be advised to use up their entitlements to their individual UC advances if needed.  As after becoming a couple their entitlement will be looked at jointly.

Charles
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Elliot Kent - 05 August 2021 07:49 AM

I also don’t really see how nomination is supposed to work. If Dave and Poppy decided to keep Poppy’s AP so that the joint award began on 14th August, what would happen to the potential entitlement between 7-13 August?

I find it harder to understand how the member of the couple who had the later AP can have entitlement to two awards at the same time! EDIT TO EXPLAIN: That is, if the earlier AP is used (as it has to be nowadays).

I also don’t understand how entitlement as a couple can begin prior to the couple being formed. This is not simply a change of circumstances being backdated (although DWP like to look at it that way), but a whole new award.

The whole issue of what happens when a couple is formed or separates is a very difficult issue from a legal perspective for UC. I think CPAG had an article about it not too long ago too.

[ Edited: 10 Aug 2021 at 08:04 pm by Charles ]
UB40
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They would possibly say that UC is designed on an Agile Test and Learn basis. Implying that changes are implemented first and complex legal considerations are addressed second!
There is a video tutorial for claimants wishing to make a joint claim. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnDi-OlKgMY