Escalating a Pension Credit complaint
I have a client who is living in the same property as his ex-wife. They are not a couple and have not been for many decades. They are both over pension age and were both receiving Pension Credit as single people. Just over a year ago, the Pension Service for some reason started paying both awards to the ex-wife as a couple award. We are unclear why this happened as the ex-wife will not engage with me. Despite repeated requests for this to be changed, the only advice we got was that the client should make a new claim - but when we tried to this, we were told that a new claim could not be processed because Pension Credit was already in payment to him as part of his ex-wife’s claim.
I repeatedly tried to raise a change of circumstances which was completely ignored by the Pension Service. Trying to call was impossible as nobody on the phones appeared to be able to understand the idea that they are living in the same property but have separate finances.
After nearly six months of this, I put in a complaint in September 2023. Nothing happened and I requested an escalation to Operations Correspondence in December 2023. It is now Feb 2024 and I still have not heard anything. I can’t escalate to an independent case examiner because I have not received a response from the Pension Service. At this point the client would be happy with the Pension Service saying there is nothing they can do, he just wants a formal yes or no answer to the question of can they pay his pension credit to him rather than to his ex-wife. This has still not been given. How can I escalate this effectively?
Sadly, the DWP have just ended a trial escalation route so we’re back to square one effectively.
You can either try their MP, threaten JR, or keep trying through normal routes. We’ve been told partnership managers should also be able to act in these kind of situations so don’t know if you’ve tried these?
The Pension Service administration has been dreadful for months I’m afraid and we’ve seen so many similar cases, where things have dragged on for months and months and our advisers have been unable to get any meaningful response to contact.
I may be misunderstanding the situation, but if there has been a decision that they should be assessed as a couple, which he disagrees with, then that should follow the MR/appeal route re the ‘LTAHW’ decision, rather than a complaint about benefit administration. A decision “just over a year ago” could still be in time for a late challenge. In any case, subsequent communications requesting a changed outcome may well arguably amount to a reconsideration request, if so the appeal time limit would run from the pension service’s substantive response.
Or is there no such dispute, and is this something to do with how it’s paid, e.g. she has made herself appointee to manage his single-person PC award?