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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Covid-19: Welfare benefit issues  →  Thread

UC claimant abroad for over a month but spouse still in GB

Paul Stockton
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Epping Forest CAB

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Client and wife on a joint UC claim with HCE. Client goes abroad and because of Covid-related flight cancellations cannot get back within the allowed month. I know from this thread - https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/16653/- that the rule still applies despite it not being his fault. The wife remains in GB throughout but UC terminated the joint claim. Is this right? It would be more logical, and consistent with the NRPF situation, if the wife continued to be paid as a single person. It might be possible to interpret reg 9 of the Claims and Payments Regulations in that way but it’s not clear-cut.

I’d be glad of any experience or thoughts on the situation.

Va1der
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Welfare Support Worker - Community Renewal Edinburgh

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She can claim as a single person under 3(3) of the UC regs (though his moneys etc still taken into account), but as far as I know she must make the step of claiming herself, it doesn’t automatically transfer to a single person claim.

Jo_Smith
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The UK based partner should have received “Ineligible Partner” letter as per the attached sample. Her UC+ any elements she is entitled to, should continue.

Check if your UK based client’s HRT does not rely on her UK-absent partner. For example she is only entitled to UC as a spouse of a qualifying person? And he stops being qualifying person because of his absence from UK. Perhaps worth exploring.
Ask for statement of reasons.

[ Edited: 1 Oct 2021 at 12:32 pm by Jo_Smith ]

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Elliot Kent
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There is a significance here relating to the difference between a “claim” for UC and an “award” of it.

If you claim UC as a couple and your partner proves ineligible (e.g. due to an NRPF condition or due to not being in the country), then the DWP can treat the claim as though it were made by you as a single person. See reg 9(1) C&P.

However once benefit is awarded, there is no equivalent provision. The couple are no longer entitled to UC as such. Because they haven’t ceased to be a couple, reg 9(6) C&P doesn’t apply. So the award ends and a new claim must be made.

There is no difference in principle between the position of someone whose partner is not in GB, and someone whose partner is NRPF - but the practical difference is that if your partner is NRPF, this will be discovered before the claim is decided and therefore reg 9(1) can be used and a new claim isn’t needed. If benefit is already in payment, then that provision doesn’t apply so you do need to make a new claim.

[ Edited: 1 Oct 2021 at 04:41 pm by Elliot Kent ]
Jo_Smith
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Elliot Kent - 01 October 2021 12:49 PM

There is no difference in principle between the position of someone whose partner is not in GB, and someone whose partner is NRPF - but the practical difference is that if your partner is NRPF, this will be discovered before the claim is decided and therefore reg 9(1) can be used and a new claim isn’t needed. If benefit is already in payment, then that provision doesn’t apply so you do need to make a new claim.

I do not say that often- but in this case I am glad DWP did not follow the process which was explained by Elliot. In the case I presented, and the letter sample I attached, my client was spared from having to make a new claim, which for a vulnerable client was a blessing. Continuation of payment, same dates etc.

Va1der
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Anyone know what the ADM says on this scenario? I tried, but couldn’t find it.

Edit: Other than what A2032 onwards says about couples claiming*

[ Edited: 1 Oct 2021 at 02:44 pm by Va1der ]
Paul Stockton
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Thanks everyone. ADM says nothing. I’ll check if my client’s wife got the “ineligible partner” letter.
For what it’s worth I fear Eliot is right, but in the light of the other posts I’m not going to pass up the chance of DWP and/or the tribunal seeing things differently!

Subo
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Hi - Paul did your client’s case get to to tribunal yet? if so what was the outcome please?
Many thanks

Paul Stockton
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It never made it to the tribunal. The client’s wife did not get the “ineligible partner” letter. A further complicating factor was that the wife is over pension age. The effect of that was that she could have applied for HB as a single person when UC was stopped, but the client only came to us for advice some months after the time he was abroad and an HB claim could not have been backdated far enough to cover the period when there was no HCE.

I advised them to apply for a DHP. I don’t know the outcome.