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 Post subject: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:14 pm 
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Bournemouth Lad wrote:
Hi guys - first can I say I've been lurking on this site from the beginning, and I love it here. I did make a few anodyne posts in the early days, albeit under my own name - not the wisest of moves perhaps - so I've decided to re-register. I'm not a troll, honest.

I've actually got an enquiry on behalf of a mate of mine who's at the end of his tether trying to fathom out the system. He works full-time and earns around £16K a year. His wife, who's about fifty, has chronic health problems (carpal tunnel syndrome, OA, depression) and was claiming contributions-based ESA until recently. This ESA award has been terminated, however, because of the new means-testing.

In a separate set of developments, my mate's wife was declared fit to work last year and the DWP's decision was upheld by the first-tier tribunal. I did help the couple apply for an appeal to the upper tier, but because the first tier was deemed not to have "erred in law", this went nowhere. (I'd imagine an appeal to an upper-tier tribunal would be academic, in any case, given the new means-testing.)

My mate's wife continues to receive low-rate DLA, but no other benefits.

My enquiries are as follows:

(1) Does anyone know whether the state would continue to pay the wife's NI contributions (towards her state pension), in any circumstances?

(2) Would my mate's wife be able to claim JSA now (despite her health problems), or is that also means-tested?

(3) A separate point: the couple's son, aged sixteen, has Asperger's and receives medium-rate DLA on account of his care needs, and lower-rate DLA for mobility problems. Given that he has never paid NI, would he be entitled to claim ESA if, say, he were to leave full-time education?

Sorry for the long post. Any information would be very gratefully received. As you can imagine my mate has his hands full as it is, and although I've been trying to get my own head round the system to help him out, I've really come unstuck with this.

Best wishes to all on this site, by the way, regulars and lurkers alike. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:14 pm 
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Ohsocynical wrote:
I wouldn't be any help at all, but I've put a post asking if anyone can on the main board. Sometimes the people that could help aren't well and have to take a bit of time off every so often but hopefully someone will know.


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:14 pm 
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Bournemouth Lad wrote:
Thanks OhSo, I really appreciate that.


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:14 pm 
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gilsey wrote:
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(2) Would my mate's wife be able to claim JSA now (despite her health problems), or is that also means-tested?


Contribution based JSA is paid for 6 months only, if you have paid sufficient NI contributions in the previous year.

After 6 months it's means-tested. A partner earning £16k would be enough to disqualify you, possibly depending on your other circumstances, eg housing costs.

If you're prepared for the hassle, even if you don't qualify for JSA, it's possible to get NI contributions credited. You'd have to be at the Jobcentre's beck and call, applying for jobs, etc..

This is the extent of my knowledge and it's 2 years out of date, I'm afraid there may have been changes. Sorry not to be more help, have they approached the CAB?


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:14 pm 
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MsChin wrote:
I'm no expert but ... I can see that your mate needs to contact their local CAB or other Advice Centre.

(2) Would my mate's wife be able to claim JSA now (despite her health problems), or is that also means-tested?

No, IIRC spouses only qualify for 6 months contribution-based JSA and are expected to depend on their partners after that.

(3) A separate point: the couple's son, aged sixteen, has Asperger's and receives medium-rate DLA on account of his care needs, and lower-rate DLA for mobility problems. Given that he has never paid NI, would he be entitled to claim ESA if, say, he were to leave full-time education?

The Personal Independence Payment is replacing DLA so he'll have to apply for it and may well qualify:
http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/benefits_e/benefits_welfare_benefits_reform_e/benefits_personal_independence_payment_e.htm

Rights.net is a site for advisors and gives updates on recent case rulings:
http://www.rightsnet.org.uk

Sorry I can't be of more use.


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:15 pm 
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Bournemouth Lad wrote:
Thanks for posting, Gilsey and Ms Chin, and for the helpful links. I think you're right - my mate's case is a complicated one and it does call for a CAB professional.

Thanks for taking an interest - there are so many good people on this forum. A "Haven" indeed!


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:15 pm 
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Occam wrote:
Hi all. I am that 'mate'. Wanted to clarify the position here as far as ESA & other benefits received now and no longer received etc.
Wife now in receipt of Carer's allowance for son who receives middle care/low mobility. They even tried to take his middle care away because, we were told, he was an adult at 16 and they didn't think he needed the same amount of care he was receiving per 16, but we did win that battle at least! Question, does that cover wife's NI payments now?
Wife cannot work (although allegedly found 'fit for work') has too many ills they appear to give no credit for? Has had no less than 6 hospital appointments for various of these debilities in past 6 months. Has had pneumonia no less than 4 times in the past year and still awaits a scan for this. Add that to beign partially deaf, having arthritic hip and knees (awaiting surgey for one knee which she cannot have due to repeated pneumonia!), carpal tunnel syndrome (both wrists, cannot lift/move 1 ltr of whatever but clearly disbelieved), suffers regular depression and chronic pain, has daily headache issues. Oddly wife has just received confirmation of her entitlement to DLA allowance with letter stating 'you have this for an indefinite period' low care/high mobility. Add all this to being fully supported by her GP who has known her for 30 years and believes she cannot and probably never will work (taking daily analgesics for her problems & regular anti depressants) and you can see why we are angry.
Will be overjoyed to see this government ousted in due course!


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:15 pm 
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Vordermont wrote:
Occam,

"Question, does that cover wife's NI payments now?"

Yes it does.

Your State Pension

Usually, for each week you get Carer’s Allowance or the underlying entitlement you also get:

National Insurance credits
contributions to your Additional State Pension

Credits help to fill in any gaps in your National Insurance record. This can mean that you’ll still get the full State Pension and other benefits. These credits generally stop:

in the tax year you reach State Pension age
if you get the underlying entitlement and Widow’s Benefit or Bereavement Benefit

Source:

https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/further-information


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:15 pm 
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ephemerid wrote:
Occam wrote:
Hi all. I am that 'mate'. Wanted to clarify the position here as far as ESA & other benefits received now and no longer received etc.
Wife now in receipt of Carer's allowance for son who receives middle care/low mobility. They even tried to take his middle care away because, we were told, he was an adult at 16 and they didn't think he needed the same amount of care he was receiving per 16, but we did win that battle at least! Question, does that cover wife's NI payments now?
Wife cannot work (although allegedly found 'fit for work') has too many ills they appear to give no credit for? Has had no less than 6 hospital appointments for various of these debilities in past 6 months. Has had pneumonia no less than 4 times in the past year and still awaits a scan for this. Add that to beign partially deaf, having arthritic hip and knees (awaiting surgey for one knee which she cannot have due to repeated pneumonia!), carpal tunnel syndrome (both wrists, cannot lift/move 1 ltr of whatever but clearly disbelieved), suffers regular depression and chronic pain, has daily headache issues. Oddly wife has just received confirmation of her entitlement to DLA allowance with letter stating 'you have this for an indefinite period' low care/high mobility. Add all this to being fully supported by her GP who has known her for 30 years and believes she cannot and probably never will work (taking daily analgesics for her problems & regular anti depressants) and you can see why we are angry.
Will be overjoyed to see this government ousted in due course!


She can make a new claim for ESA immediately if she can provide evidence that she has new/worsening conditions.
She can do it anyway after 26 weeks since the last ESA claim.

I'm not sure how that would affect her carers'allowance - the problem is that she is clearly sufficiently disabled by illness herself to satisfy the draconian requirements of DLA, so in theory she shouldn't be caring for your son.

Your son is not an adult until he is 18.

The Welfare Reform Act has removed the old "presumption" of NI conts for children in receipt of DLA I believe.
It's worth checking, because it will make a difference to your so when he is old enough to claim ESA/JSA in his own right.
If I'm right, he'll be means-tested when the time comes and ALL the benefit income will be taken into consideration under the current rules and when UC comes in.

If you can, get an appointment with CAB, or ask the council if they have a welfare advice worker.

It sounds to me as if your wife has a good case for Support Group ESA at 13 weeks into a new claim, which would take her income up by nearly half; and that your son's DLA should be as it is until he reaches his majority at least.
As your wife is now in receipt of both care and mobility components of DLA, she might be entitled to a care package for herself and respite for caring for your son. The LA should sort this out, and I'd get in touch with social services.

There are many sites with excellent advice - some are condition-specific, like the ME one (which is very good) but it's worth checking out dwpinvestigations, benefitsandwork, and they have links to others.
Blacktrianglecampaign has some very good information on DWP regulations in its' articles. Well worth a look.

Good luck. :)



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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:15 pm 
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Bournemouth Lad wrote:
Hi Vordermont and Ephemerid,

Just wanted to express colossal thanks for the extra information, which I've passed on to the chum in question. (I know he'll be equally grateful.) I had assumed, wrongly, that support-group ESA was means-tested, so you can probably guess how crap my advice was! :oops: I think you are right, Ephemerid, and that the worsening situation probably does warrant a new claim - with the support group in mind, sadly.

Cordial regards to you both.

Bournemouth Lad


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
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Occam wrote:
Thanks to Ephemerid et al for the advice. My local CAB believe there can be 'no claim' on the grounds that i earn over £16k, full stop. I have taken the new welfare benefits trainin g as part of my work and that agrees with the CAB. ESA is 'means tested' i'm afraid is as much as i can discover. On the plus side my wife now claims Carer's allowance which also pays her NI cons.
The sooner this present govt is ousted the better!


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:16 pm 
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ephemerid wrote:
Occam wrote:
Thanks to Ephemerid et al for the advice. My local CAB believe there can be 'no claim' on the grounds that i earn over £16k, full stop. I have taken the new welfare benefits trainin g as part of my work and that agrees with the CAB. ESA is 'means tested' i'm afraid is as much as i can discover. On the plus side my wife now claims Carer's allowance which also pays her NI cons.
The sooner this present govt is ousted the better!


The first 13 weeks of any new ESA claim is the "assessment" phase and pays £71 a week. It can be means-tested, but your wife may have NI conts to qualify if she paid some/had them covered in the relevant income tax year.
Unless you claim it's difficult to find out - but if your wife's old ESA claim was not means-tested and she went straight on to CA she may well have enough conts to qualify. The DWP Benefit Delivery Centre who dealt with her claim should be able to tell you
- their address is on any letters they have sent. If she was on IB and converted to time-limited WRAG ESA, or on ESA WRAG for a year which got stopped because she ran out of time, her conts may be enough.

At 13 weeks the Atos process starts - that's the point at which your wife could be found incapable of work and allocated to the Support Group. And there is very good advice out there about how to ensure that certain regulations are applied from the beginning of the process to maximise the chances of getting the correct decision.
Support Group ESA is not means-tested, and guarantees a Class1 NI cont for every week of the claim.
WRAG and assessment phase ESA is only means-tested if there are not sufficient NI conts - the advice CAB gave you is not quite correct - unless they have access to the NI records.

The main thing is that you are happy with what you have now. If so, fair enough.
But I will say that I think if your wife is so poorly that she could claim SG ESA now is the time to do it before UC comes in.
The CAB are very good, but ESA is a very complex benefit and having read all the legislation I think they might not have given you the correct information. I would suggest you check it out, with respect.

:-))


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 Post subject: Re: ESA means testing
PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:16 pm 
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Occam wrote:
Hello again Ephemerid. This is all very confusing but i guess it's meant to be eh? I will contact the local job centre, even though i've just slagged them off for adding more stress having informed us that my wife had a 'live' claim and had to go for another Atos assessment! Thye don't, as they claim, tell you about benefits you 'might be able to claim', one has to ask and then they say 'we can't tell you, you'll have to fill in a form'! I'll let this forum know what happens in due course.
Apparently, as odd as it seems, it is fine for my wife to claim CA even if she was in receipt of any other benefit??? Go figure, this is the system we are stuck with now! My wife could have been claiming this CA 6 years ago but they didn't suggest that she even might be able to!


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