Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Don't know where to even start!

Apologies it's a long one. 

I decided to retire in 2016, I handed in my intention and then I had an injury at work resulting in me now becoming disabled. 
I took my pension and retired from my job. 
I then left my husband last year and moved into council property. 
I was advised to gift my children some money which I did because we would be starting divorce proceedings etc. He still lives in the house. We have no dependant children. 
I had mental health and domestic violence charities involved. They took me to the council to apply for council tax reduction. it was refused due to the savings that I currently had other than the money gifted. 
I've used those savings over the last 10 months to pay my rent as I am only in receipt of my workplace pension and PIP.
I then moved into another council property this year and again a charity took me to apply for council tax reduction which was refused due to the initial savings I gifted. 
They then took me to apply for UC, which I was refused due to the savings from last year. 
But I am not eligible for UC also because I would be eligible for SDP. 

My current savings are dwindling fast due to paying rent etc, whilst my estranged husband lives in the house only paying bills. I have started divorce proceedings. 

My current savings are under £6k but there are the savings I gifted last year which were over £16k. 
I didn't claim anything when I retired, so have not paid any income-related contributions for 3 years. 

I appreciate if I have savings I shouldn't need any benefits, but I have another 3 years until I can claim my state benefit and I wanted my children to have some money as I did when my parents died. The savings won't last much longer, maybe another year or 18 months if I get the savings back from my children. 
I should have claimed for my contributions to be paid even if not claiming benefits (contribution based) when I retired but I had no idea, that I could even do that. 
Also what about the house? Could it be disregarded even if it been over 6 months since I left, as divorce proceedings have started? 

Is there anything I can do even if it's just to get my contributions up to date as I can pay the voluntary ones up to now, but then there is still the next 3 years?

Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    Hi and welcome, seems to me that you are being treated as still having the money you gifted to your children (deprivation of capital), are you entitled to a share of your former home when your divorce goes through?
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 18,500 Disability Gamechanger
    HI and welcome,

    The reason you're not eligible for UC is not because of the SDP because you're not currently receiving any SDP in any benefit. You have to be receiving the SDP not to be able to claim UC, so your thoughts on this are not correct. SDP is not awarded based on a disability. It's awarded if you're claiming a qualifying benefit and you live alone. It's paid on top of some of the old income related benefits such as ESA/JSA and Income support. You also need to be claiming a qualifying benefit such as PIP daily living or DLA mid/high rate care.

    New claims for housing benefit are no longer possible so the only benefit you can claim is UC. As you're receiving a pension from working then this will be counted as income for any UC entitlement you may have and will reduce it £1 for £1.

    The reason why you were refused council tax reduction is because of the savings you gave away at the time so they are still classing you as having the money, which is understandable. You can't give away savings and then claim a means tested benefit.

    Have you tried to claim UC? If you haven't then i'd advise you to start a claim for this and see what happens. If you have a limited capability for work then you'll need a fit note from your GP to start this process off. The savings that you gave away should not be counted for this purpose because you weren't claiming UC at that time.

    How much UC you're entitled to will depend on your circumstances. If you're renting privately then you'll be entitled to the 1 bedroom rate of local housing allowance for your area. Check here. https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/ you'll be entitled to the standard allowance for a single person which is £317.82 on top of the housing element BUT your pension will reduce the amount you're entitled to as i advised.

    You NI credits towards your state pension. You only need 35 years for a full pension now. So if you've always worked then chances are you have what you need. Check here. https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-age

    Face to face advice would be very helpful here because it's so complicated. Hope this helps a little.

    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • lostinspacelostinspace Member Posts: 8 Listener
    I've been refused UC because of the capital. 

    I don't have enough contributions for my pension as it is. I would need to pay £1800 to bring them up to date for now. 
    I cared for my children and then had to work part time, due to lack of support at home re childcare etc 

    I was told that because I would be entitled to SDP I would need to be on the legacy (?!) System. 

    I am on PIP and mobility 
  • lostinspacelostinspace Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Eligible not entitled sorry for the sdp element.
    I'm so confused by it all. You get told one thing. I got told by UC on the phone that I would be eligible to have my contributions paid on Tuesday to receive a phone call on Wednesday to say no because I've not paid contributions in the last 2/3 years. 

    How is anyone meant to navigate this system? Let alone when dealing with abuse and mental health.

    I totally understand the savings aspect. I only went with what I was being told to do. 
    If UC have said no to the claim due to the capital - I would assume that the council has disclosed that information to them 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 18,500 Disability Gamechanger
    edited March 6
    To claim New style ESA you need to have paid enough NI Contributions from working in the tax years April 2017 to March 2019 and because you haven't worked then you won't be entitled to this.

    For the UC then you're not excluded from claiming it because you're eligible for the SDP. You maybe eligible but you're not in receipt of it so it means you're not excluded from claiming UC for this reason.

    Are you saying they refused your UC claim because you gave away your savings? have you actually made a claim for UC? Claiming UC is not about having paid enough NI Contributions because it's a means tested benefit.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • lostinspacelostinspace Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi yes I made a claim for UC, it was refused because they received information I had capital exceeding £16k which I can only assume is the money I gifted 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 18,500 Disability Gamechanger
    The New style ESA can be claimed as a Ni Credits towards your state pension only claim but the same procedure applies here as if you're receiving the money and you'll need fit notes from your GP to be able to claim this. See link and scroll down to "how to claim" https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance-detailed-guide

    I can only assume that because you gave away the money very recently then this is why UC have refused your claim because you have deprived yourself of capital so they are still classing you as having those savings.

    Your house isn't classed as capital because your ex husband is living there.


    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • lostinspacelostinspace Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi, thanks I thought it counted if I moved out over 26 weeks ago? 

    So in essence there isn't anything I can do because I gave away money to my children? I can't claim any benefits? 
    So I might as well ask for it back as I need it to live on, due to things taking longer with the divorce. I gifted the money a year ago. 

    I know the contribution ESA doesn't take into account savings - but I have no contributions to use. 

    I would meet the income based ESA but have the money I gifted counted towards my capital, and potentially my house. 

    I have some fit notes, from the GP as I cannot work due to my disability. Again I was just claiming PIP because that's what I was told to do. 

    I can pay voluntarily NI contributions for the last 2 years to bring my pension up, but I don't know what will happen over the next 3 years 



     
  • chiariedschiarieds Community champion Posts: 1,693 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @lostinspace - I hope you are using a solicitor specialising in family law for your divorce, as you really need face to face advice here too. I can only speak from personal experience, having just had my divorce finalised a few weeks ago.
    I started dvorce proceedings nearly 4 years after separating from my husband, so I can assure the 'marital home' will not be disregarded.
    You need to consider all of your assets; this includes property, income, or state pension (if your husband's in receipt of this), any pension savings, your work pension, car, valuables, investments & monies in the bank & cash. Then you each need to look at your expenditure. This to work out each person's needs, & the fact that you're now disabled may be taken into account, as you can no longer earn.
    As far as PIP goes, my solicitor said 2 judges on the same day might view it differently, with one considering it income, & the other not. I was advised that it might cost £10k if I went to court to find out!
    As there are so many variables, however, this is just a basic idea. I found these 2 websites useful.
    I hope some of this helps, & my best wishes to you.



  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 18,500 Disability Gamechanger
    The home doesn't count as capital because you're husband is still living there. If it's up for sale then it can be disregarded. When it's sold if there's equity and you receive money from the sale, if you buy another house it can be disregarded for 26 weeks for means tested benefits. If you don't plan to buy another house then your share of the equity will again be classed as savings and prevent you from claiming all means tested benefits.

    You can't claim the old Income related ESA because it no longer exists. You can only claim the old benefits, if you're currently receiving the SDP and because you're not receiving this then those rules do not apply to you.

    As you've been refused UC because you gave away your savings then there's no other benefits you can claim.

    New style ESA can be claimed for you to receive NI credits towards your state pension BUT because you haven't paid enough NI Contributions from working in those 2 tax years i mentioned above then you will receive no money. If you claim this for NI credits towards your state pension then you will need fit notes (Sick notes) from your GP to be able to claim this.

    Had you claimed Contributions based ESA when you finished work in 2016 then you may have been entitled but sadly it's too late now. Seems like you've been badly advised in the past.


    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • lostinspacelostinspace Member Posts: 8 Listener
    I think that's my point, whether there was any recourse from all the previous bad advice including this week! 

    @chiarieds yes I've got a solicitor, they've been fairly helpful. And we will be going ahead to court as he's not engaging at the moment.

    So the house is capital too. 

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 18,500 Disability Gamechanger
    edited March 6
    The marital home is not counted as income for means tested benefits while your husband is living there.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • lostinspacelostinspace Member Posts: 8 Listener
    I'm confused by that as everything I've read said 26 weeks or indefinitely if he's a lone carer for example - which he isn't. Regardless my "savings" takes me over anyway. 

    Although, I've just been reading up on notional capital, but that still won't help me at the moment. 

    I'll have to pay voluntarily contributions to keep my pension up to date, which will deplete my savings, get my savings back because I'll need them. And fingers crossed the same as many others hope for the best. 

    Thanks for all the advice. I was pretty sure it was the case I couldnt claim anything, was maybe holding out for abit of case law. 
    It's not the benefits I want, I wanted my stamp covered. I had no idea that I wouldn't have been covered after retirement and been short. I was so hit by my injury and the effect it had on me, plus the abuse at home, that I had no idea what could happen. 
  • chiariedschiarieds Community champion Posts: 1,693 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm so sorry that everything has had a bad impact on you. It's not the same, but I separated from my husband due to verbal & emotional abuse, so you have my every sympathy.
    Altho you feel that with your divorce you'll be heading to court, & I felt the same, hopefully your solicitor's advice will be helpful. He will have to respond, & I doubt he'd want to go to court. You don't have to go through mediation either due to the abuse you suffered. I just wanted to make you aware that not only does the marital home usually have to be taken into consideration (unless he bought/inherited it, & you'd not been married long for example), but that if he has any pension assets, or an income or state pension, these will be classed as income.
    As far as your state pension goes, if you hope to get the full amount of the new state pension, then you can pay voluntary contributions at any time prior to receiving your state pension. I was one year short, & had 3 different quotes as to what I needed to pay, due to losing my phone signal. So, whenever you decide to do so, you might query the amount more than once! Mine thankfully went down each time.
    Whilst you may not be able to claim means tested benefits now, hopefully once your divorce goes through, you will likely have the monies to pay for your NI contributions.
    Your marital home is an asset (considering divorce), but it's not capital, as you receive no money from it until it potentially is sold.
    However you could could claim NI contributions now as advised by Poppy, i.e. 'New style ESA can be claimed for you to receive NI credits towards your state pension BUT because you haven't paid enough NI Contributions from working in those 2 tax years i mentioned above then you will receive no money. If you claim this for NI credits towards your state pension then you will need fit notes (Sick notes) from your GP to be able to claim this.'
    Please be guided by her, as she knows a thing, or hundred(!) about the benefit system.

  • lostinspacelostinspace Member Posts: 8 Listener
    I'm sorry to hear about your situation, I hope you are in a better place now @chiarieds

    We had mediation this week, I requested separate rooms, but they talked me into going in the same room as him saying it would cost more money and time, so I agreed to that and I really shouldn't have. 

    He failed to mention to them he works full time, so he offered me the split between our pensions and then £50 a month extra on top. But this is not about the divorce. 

    Thanks everyone for all the help and advice. I did ask for NI credits this week, they said yes on the phone on Tuesday and rang me Wednesday and said no I'm not eligible to claim. 

    I'm going to sit down with my children and work some things out. 

    Thanks again 
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Administrator Posts: 5,620 Scope community team
    Did they say why you weren't eligible @lostinspace? I hope the sit down with your children went well. 
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope
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