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Hello everyone - my first big question :-)

russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
edited November 2017 in Ask a benefits advisor
My wife and I care for our severely disabled daughter Belle (who has confirmed CFC Syndrome and global developmental delay since birth, and can't do anything for herself at all, bless her, she only looks, gurgles occasionally and sometimes smiles when not fitty or having a fit with regular epilepsy) and her healthy twin sister (who are seven years-old) and now we all live together in Bulgaria.

I'm British (as are our daughters), my Latvian wife had a UK disability living allowance benefit running for a few years from 2010 until we left for Latvia in 2012 and were advised by their website to cancel it (about five years ago) and claim in Latvia. We did cancel and claim in Latvia but the benefits were much lower and just today we have found that they have now been canceled too, probably because we moved to Bulgaria. The benefits in Bulgaria are even lower, however we think the UK is fully responsible for our predicament and should pay us what they owe, but fundamentally we need the money more than ever.

Anyway, I was thinking that we should never have canceled the original disability benefits (and should have been advised by the benefits people not to - no duty of care?) and could have simply continued to claim as normal  from the UK in both Latvia and Bulgaria using portable benefits? Will we need to take legal action on this?

Is it possible to restart this claim ASAP and maybe get the money lost back and get full disability and mobility benefits now from the UK, to my wife or myself? Can this all be recovered in court if necessary? We now have no benefit income at all for disability or mobility and have had to fund our own car to transport our daughter for years now (so far about 3,000 in repairs). We have also incurred thousands in therapy costs and were thankfully gifted money for a new over-size pushchair, but usually have had to fund from our own money, relatives and the occasional crowd funding recently for certain medicines that didn't work :-(. Belle's lovely pushchair by the way (a Special Tomato) is a real Godsend and thanks to that person who gave so much for it. We really now need an adjustable standing/sitting chair, at I think almost 2K ouch, to help straighten Belle's spine and strengthen her legs! This is not a begging post btw, just for advice on benefits and the legal side perhaps. 

Can anyone advise or provide contact details for someone who can help us - for benefits advice and the legal side perhaps? I will give those advisors complete details of the previous claim and our circumstances as required, with proofs. We are in a desperate financial situation and need to sort these financial issues out as soon as possible, Belle is fine and getting all she needs right now by the way, but we are now seeing our income drop by about 350 GBP a month. We recently saved and spent 800 BGN (about 400 GBP) on a brain and spine MRI, and will need money for genetic tests soon, as we are now seeking possible gene therapy in Bulgaria. We also have to pay for a nanny daily (only 20 GBP) to help out here and an acupuncturist (who is really helping Belle I might add) and about 15 GBP twice weekly.

Sorry for the details and too much info.

Very kind regards,
Russell 

Replies

  • izaiza Posts: 406Member, Community champion Chatterbox
    Hi @russco

    Welcome to online community. I think due to European Law you can only claim certain benefit in one country for your daughter. I just wonder why you never transfer the UK support for your child to the country of residence instead closing your claim UK and reapplying back in countries of relocation. As long as I know you can claim only financial support for your child in one of the countries. However, I am not able here to provide you with professional advice. Lets ask  @BenefitsTrainingCo to advise you more on the next  steps of action. 
    @BenefitsTrainingCo please advise here. 
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,385Member, Community advisor Chatterbox
    russco,

    When you talk about the DLA claimed by your wife, I'm assuming that this was claimed in respect of Belle?

    As Iza advises, you can only claim in one EEA state at a time.

    If the DLA care component stopped only because you moved to another EEA state then this decision could have been wrong. The problem is that it sounds as if this wasn't an official decision, but you cancelling the claim.

    If you withdrew the claim on advice from a UK government website then you need to make a complaint. The complaint should focus on how much money you have lost as a result and insist that you are compensated, as without this advice you would have continued to get DLA care component. 

    The alternative is that you argue the decision to stop the DLA was an official error - but as you requested it, I'm not sure you will be able to argue that (and also, for DLA to be payable, you would have to NOT have had the Latvian and then Bulgarian benefits).

    So if I've understood the situation correctly, this is a complaint situation. It sounds as if the UK government DLA website was wrong back in around 2012??Yet it has been clear since 18 October 2007 that DLA carer component was exportable under the EU co-ordination rules. I'd assume Belle would be covered by these rules, not because of her citizenship but because she is your dependent and you have exercised your freedom of movement etc.

    There is another complication. That is whether the UK remained the competent state (the state responsible for paying benefit). The UK could stop being the competent state for a number of reasons, including if you started work in Latvia or Bulgaria, or you receive other benefits from those states, eg a benefit for unemployment.

    I'm afraid we don't do case work so this is about as much as I can say. If you think that the UK remained the competent state (for example, because you have never worked in Latvia or Bulgaria or claimed other benefits there), you could complain - you'd need to start your complaint by dealing with the office you most recently dealt with (likely to be the DLA Unit). Unfortunately the way the DWP handles post has changed since then, so I'd first find the most recent DWP letter you have, then find the address that office now uses (quite possibly this will be a Wolverhampton post box address).

    If you do complain, be specific. Explain why you think the UK government information was wrong (because DLA care component was exportable, we have known this since 2007, and you believe the UK was still the competent state for Belle at the point you read the online advice).

    Explain how you have lost out (the difference between the value of the care component and the Latvian/Bulgarian equivalents over the number of years you think you could still have got the UK benefit).

    I don't know if Belle was also getting the mobility component. It's possible she wasn't as she would have been very young at the time and it isn't payable until a child is 3.

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

  • izaiza Posts: 406Member, Community champion Chatterbox
    Hi @BenefitsTrainingCo

    Thank you so much for such a super fast replay with important informations. 


  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 2,261Member Brian Blessed

    Legally it is not possible to cancel a claim (at least arguably until UC came along). There is simply no legal provision to do so once benefit has been awarded. A claim can be withdrawn before it has been decided but once there's an award in place the claim can only be ended if there are grounds for supersession of the original decision.

    DWP make this mistake repeatedly because it's an easy administrative option for them. Someone says jump so they jump. What you asked them to do is largely irrelevant if there weren't grounds to do so. They should have asked for grounds and there were probably none as the UK probably does remain the competent state depending on your specific circumstances.

    So, what next? First of all ask for a copy of the decision to end your claim. When you have that (and they probably won't have it any more) you can ask them to look at that decision again. There's an absolute limit of 13 months on appeals but not on supersessions. Prepare for some bizarre correspondence in which DWP will essentially revert to standard letters cos nothing fits. Escalate as invited and, if you're ever over here, get yourself some competent advice.

    If you were in my area I'd pick this up like a flash :)

  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    Thank you all for your kind and prompt replies.

    I will have a discussion with my wife (as straight facts seem vital for this), but she says that we didn't actually cancel the claim, they simply stopped it after we told them we'd moved to Latvia, they advised us it would stop and I think it was after 12 weeks - we will check exactly.

    The UK claim was in my wife's name and I eventually got a job in Latvia, but lost it after 6 months, and I didn't claim any benefits. My wife then claimed Latvian disability benefits (a few weeks before UK benefits ended), which were stopped only a few days ago (18 Nov 2017). We have never claimed anything in Bulgaria so far.

    It sounds like the original claim should never have been stopped, with some of it portable to Latvia etc, and maybe a top up payment for the Latvian shortfall perhaps?

    Anyway, I will compile an accurate timeline and post it ASAP this evening.

    Thank you all again you wonderful people,
    Russ
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 2,261Member Brian Blessed
    Potentially a straightforward mistake of fact then which would give rise to the opportunity for a supersession. 
  • izaiza Posts: 406Member, Community champion Chatterbox
    Hi @russco

    It sound clear to me that  when your wife started the application process in Latvia  to claim disability benefit, the UK system pick it up. 
    As there is free transfer of information between EEA countries  officials (including Work and Pension departments) it sound clear that by making  new application in 
    Latvia the disability claim in UK come to the end automatically. 
    It takes a matter of few minutes (once you have an access as professional) to check the claimant if does not claim benefit also in another EEA countries. 
    If your wife will never apply for the disability benefit in Latvia she would be still probably receiving the UK disability benefit. 
    Exercising cases with DWP's department is challenge and takes a time.
    I hope you will get the benefit sort it out soon. 


  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    The timeline for my wife's claim was: 1) DWP claim started about when Belle was about one year old in 2011 not sure exact month - but we can find this out. 2) We simply phoned and told them we moved to Latvia Oct 2012 and they said benefits would last 12 more weeks then, we hadn't made a Latvian claim by then, so no reason to stop our UK claim. 3) So my wife claimed Latvian disability around late 2012 in anticipation of UK benefits finishing - no choice we thought. I remember if was a few weeks before the UK bens were due to stop. 4) Now a week ago Latvian benefits have finished - five year time limit perhaps. We are now looking for a person to help us claim for this from UK and back-benefits including mobility after Belle was three in Jul 2013. Any further help and advice is much appreciated, many thanks to you lovely people, Russ
  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    Many thanks Mike, how do we start a supersession? It does sound like fun ;-) can you kick it off or tell us how?
  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    Dear All,

    My wife sent by email an urgent error rectification and supersession request letter to [email protected] as it seems DWP had no legal basis or right to cancel my wife's DLA and Carer component because we moved to Latvia.

    Problem is that email was 30 Nov 2017 and so far not even an acknowledgement, and she is not receiving any disability benefits at all now for three weeks, or seven weeks if you count the last payment from Latvia, which she cannot restart unless she lives there.

    Does anyone know how to wake up DWP and get them to fix this original error and get payments at least restarted immediately?

    Back payments, missed mobility component and compo are another matter right now :-)

    Any help will be most appreciated,
    Russ
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 2,261Member Brian Blessed

    Wrong address. Ministers and their underlings are probably the least likely to know where to direct it :) Try [email protected] It's a generic email address and again you may not receive an acknowledgement but in the background it will be fed to the correct route provided you have given d.o,b., NINO and correct addresses etc.

    Alternatively, you should have a postal address for DLA via Wolverhampton. That would be the correct place to start but again make sure you provide the address they would have last had for you.

    In terms of restarting payment I would think the chances of an immediate restart are near nil. It's DLA for a child so you could try a fresh claim but that time-limits the original award which ended. That's important because if you made a new claim which resulted in a lower award than the original (for example) then the original higher award would end on the day before your new claim and possibly earlier than it otherwise would have so you'd be potentially depriving yourself of a higher level of DLA by chancing a new claim.

    If you leave a new claim well alone and pursue a challenge to the original decision to terminate then if benefit is put back in place it will run at the original rate until the original end date.

    Of course it gets interesting if the original end date has already expired but let's cross that bridge when we come to it. First things first, get the reconsideration in and get a new decision out of them even if it's a refusal to reconsider. You then get a right to appeal. Be prepared for the fact that you may need to go all the way to Upper Tribunal before you get anything sensible happening.  

  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    Wow, many thanks Mike,

    We will correct the message and pursue it all the way to the top :-) that's super advice again.

    I'll keep posting big developments.

    All our best,
    Russ
  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    One last problem appears to be DWP's address for Milton Keynes (the original claim) DLA and Carer's benefit errors (FES). Their 2016 pdf appears to have been a postcode-fes, sorry fest, of similar Wolverhampton addresses :-)

    Does anyone know the correct address please?

    Could it be...

    Disability Living Allowance DLA65+ Mail Handling Site A Wolverhampton WV98 2AH (my daughter is seven however!)

    Or maybe...

    Compensation Recovery Unit Post Handling Site B Wolverhampton WV99 2FR

    Maybe if I change it to...

    Disability Living Allowance Mail Handling Site A Wolverhampton WV98 2AH

    It will at least reach a bucket/skip in Wolverhampton?

    Many thanks again Mike and all,
    Russ
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 2,261Member Brian Blessed

    It's Mail Handling Site A.

    Believe it or not the actual handling centre is in Telford.

    Kafka anyone?

  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    OK many thanks Mike,

    We're going to go for this then...

    Disability Living Allowance, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 2AH

    Kind regards,
    Russ
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 2,261Member Brian Blessed
    It is a bit of a black hole so just keep a copy of what you send. Recorded delivery is a waste of money as it's run by a private company (not DWP) and they can sign for it at any point but it doesn't mean it has been successfully opened, scanned and is on the system.
  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    OK will do, but we'll send it recorded as well, because someone is bound to say "What letter? When? Really?"

    Cheers Mike, you are indeed a superstar!
    Russ
  • russcorussco Posts: 10Member Listener
    Dear All,

    Any help in responding appropriately to the below letter would be great :-)

    Mike mentioned a new claim would be an option but we want to go through the appeal process and all the way to the top Upper Tribunal if possible. Looks like a "supersession" was not even considered, how avoiding and convenient for them!

    Many thanks to all again.

    Kind regards,
    Russ
    --------------------------

    Exportability Team
    Blackpool Benefits Centre 3
    Warbreck House
    Warbreck Hill Road
    Blackpool
    FY2 0YE

    If you get in touch with us, tell us this reference number:
    Ref No ????
    Telephone

    Fax
    Textphone
    Website

    03457 123456
    ?????
    01253331110
    03457 224433
    www.gov.uk



    Date
    19 December 2017

    Dear Mrs ???



    Disability Living Allowance


    I am writing in reply to your email of 30 November 2017 concerning your previous claim to benefit from May 2012. 

    Unfortunately, we no longer hold any computer records or paperwork concerning either your or Annabelle’s claims to Disability Living Allowance.  This is because, in line with the DWP Document and Data Retention Policy (DDRP) DLA case papers are usually destroyed around 14 months after the customer is no longer entitled to benefit.  This period is based on the maximum time limit of 13 months allowed for appeals.  Where a decision is appealed the period will be extended until after all action is complete. As you have not requested an appeal within the 13 month time limit, I am unable to send you copies of any of the previous decision issued to you, and we are unable to consider any further action on your claim that ended in 2012.

    From April 2013, a new benefit has replaced Disability Living Allowance for people aged between 16 to 65. This benefit is called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). More information about PIP can be found on line at the government web site www.Gov.UK. Claims for PIP are initially made by telephone, if you wish to make a claim please call 00441912187766. In this call you will also be asked some information about where you are working, have previously live and where you have claimed benefits from. We may contact you by telephone to establish some further information to enable us to decide if the UK is the competent state for you to claim sickness benefits from.  

    I have enclosed a claim form DLA 1 Child for you to make a claim to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Annabelle. However, as you and Annabelle are living in Bulgaria, we will be unable to consider a claim to the mobility component of DLA. The DLA mobility component is a special non-contributory benefit (SNCB) which can only be paid to claimants who are resident in the UK. 

    The classification of the mobility component has been considered by the Court of Justice of the European Union. We argued before the Court that the amount of the mobility component is closely linked to the social environment of the UK and that it was not appropriate to pay it to people who were not living here.  The Court agreed with us.

    If you want to make a claim for Annabelle, please also complete form DBD3000 enclosed providing details for both you an Annabelle’s father concerning where you have both previously lived, worked and claimed any benefits from. This will enable us to decide if the UK should be the competent state to consider sickness benefit claims for her and consider if you have sufficient links with the UK. If you submit Annabelle’s claim to DLA, we will only be able to consider her claim from 30 November 2017, the date you enquired about claiming this benefit for her. We are unable to back date an award of benefit, prior to a date of claim.

    I am sorry if this is not the response you had hoped form, but I hope I have been able to provide you with information about the benefits available to you and information about the eligibility rule surrounding sickness benefit claims from claimants living in the EEA. If you would like to discuss this matter further, I can be contacted on telephone number 00441253 337279 or in writing at the address at the top of this letter. 


    Yours sincerely




    Miss ???


    Exportability Complaint Resolution Manager?????

    Printed on 100% recycled paper

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