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Need to check on ESA rules.

ms11ms11 Posts: 8Member Listener
Hello. I have a problem that is causing me a lot of worry.  I am on Contributions based ESA, support group. No income support or housing benefit. My wife did work, which they knew, but had to stop because of illnesses, but we have never claimed for her becasue we couldn't face it, and we don't think she would get anything anyway.
Am I right in thinking that savings and my wife's past earnings do not affect my benefit in any way ?
To explain as briefly as I can, I had some major problems with the DWP ten years ago that brought me to the brink of ending it all. Since then I have taken what they send me, the only communication being two ESA50 questionnaires, which I have filled in to the best of my ability,  yearly letters telling me I am not getting a raise, and a letter telling me about the switch to ESA. If I ever had to go and visit the DWP or have a medical, I wouldn't be able to go through with it because of the stress and anxiety involved, so I would just let them end my benefits. I could survive until pension age, and we live a very minimalist life anyway.
They know we have savings and how we got them.
I have now had a letter called a "Notification of Performance Measurement Visit". It starts off friendly enough but gets threatening, is obviously all about fraud, and says that I have to prove my identity and show all details of income and savings, although a leaflet says that they wouldn't ask about savings for a benefit like PIP that isn't changed by income or savings.
I know from what happened 10 years ago that no one at DWP can be trusted, and some of their staff are very aggressive and threatening, but I don't feel that I have done anything wrong. Could someone please set my mind at rest (well a little at least). Thank you.
We are all different, there is no "normal". Surely that's a good thing ?

Replies

  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 1,793Member, Community advisor Chatterbox

    Hi ms11, your wife's past earnings definitely wouldn't affect your benefits, and as for your savings, as you are not claiming any income-related ESA, savings do not affect your current benefit. Contribution-based ESA isn't affected by savings. So as long as you are not claiming any income-based ESA, I can't see any effect of your savings on your current benefits (Income-based ESA can be paid on top of contribution-based ESA, but that wouldn't have been possible whilst your wife was earning or if you have savings of more than £16,000). You're not claiming housing benefit either so that is fine (in any case, that is a local authority benefit).

    I cannot see anything in the benefits you are currently on that would be affected by savings, and in any case, the DWP already know that you have savings.

    To reassure you - the DWP have a constant policy of checking payments are 'correct'. That applies even to people who are not claiming any income-based benefits. It's true, as you say, that they may not be very nice, but you have done absolutely nothing wrong here. Just to let you know, the only types of income that can affect contribution-based ESA are private or occupational pensions or employment-related health insurance payments. Because these are seen as being for the same purpose as contribution-based ESA (to 'replace' earnings), private/occupational pension or occupational health insurance payments above a certain level do reduce your ESA, and you have to declare these. 

    Only your private/occupational pension payments would affect your contribution-based ESA by the way, not your wife's. I'm assuming that at the moment you are both under state pension age.

    So the advice would be to be completely up front, declare everything that they ask about, and get everything organised for the visit (paperwork and other evidence). It should be fine - it's an unpleasant feature of claiming benefits unfortunately. There some limited information on these visits here. You can see that your name is selected at random so it absolutely doesn't mean that you are suspected of anything. I hope that helps, although I can see it will still be very stressful after what you've experienced in the past. Let us know how it goes.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Will Hadwen
    Lee Kempson
    Jayne Knights
    Mary Shone
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland

  • ms11ms11 Posts: 8Member Listener
    Thank you so much for your comments Will. I was pretty sure of my facts, but it's still giving me sleepless nights.
     I'll report back in a week.
    We are all different, there is no "normal". Surely that's a good thing ?
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 1,793Member, Community advisor Chatterbox
    ms11,

    Please do. And good luck. We'll all be rooting for you.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Will Hadwen
    Lee Kempson
    Jayne Knights
    Mary Shone
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland

  • ms11ms11 Posts: 8Member Listener
    Well, stood around waiting for my visit today. I have sort of gone from the depths of depression to just wanting it over with. Only two things make me depressed, neighbour noise and any dealings with the DWP. My hopes at the moment are that he is on his own (I will probably view two turning up as intimidating and just freeze up) and he is friendly. I presume he will be wanting to talk about my medical problems. No problem with the physical, but I don't think I will be able to share much about mental health problems with a stranger. Will report back later.
    We are all different, there is no "normal". Surely that's a good thing ?
  • ms11ms11 Posts: 8Member Listener
    So, that was a lot of worry about nothing (hopefully). To anyone getting a "Notification of Performance Measurement Visit", it appears to be exactly what it says, a check that you are getting the correct benefits. The man was alone, very pleasant, he had an ESA 50 form that he said he would go through, and a few sheets printed out from my claim. I had to show him two forms of ID, he started off by checking what benefit I am on, ESA, contributions based, and said that made it all simple. From then on it was five minutes of simple questions, - did I need any care, give any care, claim any other benefits, have any private pension, pay any rent/mortgage, and that was it. He never mentioned my wife, never asked about savings or income, and never asked about any health problems, apart from if I had experienced any changes since my last form.
    He advised that I may be able to claim PIP... I said I was happy just claiming what I am, so he said the best advise that he could give was that if things got worse, and I needed more help, claim PIP and DO NOT fill the forms in myself, get a GP to do it (adding they rarely will) or make an appointment with a specialist at Citizens Advice and get them to fill it in. That way there is far more chance of success. We had a little chat about the decline in GP services, and about autism, of which he knew quite a lot as his Grandson is on the spectrum, and he left saying as far he was concerned, everything was fine. Hopefully my faith in the DWP has been restored a little ! What's the betting I get an ESA 50 in the post in the next few weeks ?
    Thanks for all help and comments, will keep looking in.
    We are all different, there is no "normal". Surely that's a good thing ?
  • MatildaMatilda Posts: 1,562Member Chatterbox
    edited July 2017
    @ms11

    I suggest that you have nothing to lose by applying for PIP; as you are not getting any PIP at the moment you could not get any less PIP after assessment.  And if you decide to apply for PIP of course it would be better for an expert to complete the forms for you.  Mind helped a friend of mine complete her DLA forms.

    But it is not essential to have an expert complete your PIP forms.  I completed mine myself, with info from Disability Rights and CAB websites - and with advice from @Debbie_Scope.

    After assessment I was awarded standard rate daily living and mobility.  And later a tribunal awarded me enhanced rate daily living and mobility. 
  • LiamO_DellLiamO_Dell Posts: 687Member Chatterbox
    Hi @ms11,

    I'm glad the Performance Measurement Visit went well. With regards to PIP, we have a section on our website dedicated to Personal Independence Payment which you might find useful.

    I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, then please do get in touch!
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