Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Appreciate any advice - WRAG

kitekite Member Posts: 5 Listener
My husband was in the support group of ESA for five years under regs 29 and 35.  In Feb 2019 he was informed that he had to make a new application to receive benefits.  This we did and followed up with a health assessment in which he scored no points and no benefits.  MR came back with same response. While we were appealing we received appeal phase benefit for 365 days which ended in February 2020.   We had hearing by telephone on Friday 26 June which was dreadful.  We received the decision today which says he scored 18 points and should be put into wrag group, and didn’t satisfy regs 29&35 although his situation and conditions have not improved but he is not to be reassessed within 24 month from date of decision.   The lady from CAB says that because he received benefit for 365 days that he is not entitled to any more benefit because it is contribution based.  Is she correct?  If she is then what is the point of being in wrag group.  He hasn’t worked for about 18 years due to various health conditions and he has reached the age of 60, and is five years 4 month away from receiving his pension.  I was hoping to retire shortly, I am 67, and this has really upset the apple cart.  Would appreciate any advice/knowledge you can give me.

Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 929 Pioneering
    Cont. based wrag ESA is only payable for 12 months, support group has no time limit, does he claim PIP?
    Btw welcome to scope @kite
  • kitekite Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thank you.  Then I can’t see any point the Tribunal placing in the wrag group with no benefits going forward.  Yes he is in receipt of PIP £235 per month.
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 929 Pioneering
    Assuming @Kite you are getting state pension you don't qualify for carers allowance as its an overlapping benefit however have a good read of the link below which explains better than I could about an underlying entitlement to carers allowance which might have a positive effect on benefits.

    https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/financial-support/help-with-benefits/carers-allowance
  • steve51steve51 Community champion Posts: 6,591 Disability Gamechanger
    edited June 30
    Hi @kite

    Welcome it’s great to meet you this evening.

    I am one of the Community Champion’s here at Scope.

    We have got a senior member who is very very good with Benefits.

    I will forward your post onto him for you.

    Hi @Richard_Scope

    Can you please offer me some help with this post?????

    @steve51
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Administrator Posts: 2,090 Scope community team
    Hi @steve51
    It's Adrian that you should tag. :smile:
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy
  • steve51steve51 Community champion Posts: 6,591 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Adrian_Scope

    Can you please have a look at this post for me????

    Thanks

    @steve51
  • steve51steve51 Community champion Posts: 6,591 Disability Gamechanger
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 4,391 Disability Gamechanger
    The point of putting him in the WRAG is that it gets him ESA entitlement which even if there is no payment will get him NI credits. 
  • OSCAR1OSCAR1 Member Posts: 33 Connected
    I think we all  need to be aware that with the current situation... The goverment will find means and ways to stop as many claims as possible new claims and existing claims!!!!! B&W were doing a survey asking people whether they would be happy with a telephone assesement or a face to face assesement I opted for a face to face assesement that way they can see how bad a claiment really is.. I no some assessors lie in there reports but I think it will be even worse if they do telephone assesements it's like trying to explain a medical condition to your doctor over the phone for me it just does not work.. Like I said the goverment and D. W. P. Will try every trick in the book to get as many sick and disabled people off benefits they need to recoup the money they have last through covid and I, m afraid it will be us in the long run that will suffer once again... 
  • kitekite Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Exactly, just what I thought.  Had a face to face hearing in 2014, won his case and was put in support group, because as you say they could actually see how he was.  We were asked if we wanted a telephone hearing due to coved and having waited over a year for the hearing we agreed.  In hindsight, this was an error on our part, in my opinion it didn’t go well, although he was awarded 18 points and has already been paid 365 days appeal phase benefit.  The CAB lady said we might be able to claim income related ESA, but I’m not holding out any hope for that.  I’m thinking about getting some advice from a benefits lawyer, to see whether they can help.  I’m so angry about all of this.  I feel as though we’ve been stitched up, no benefits whatsoever and can’t apply again for another 24 months.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 4,391 Disability Gamechanger
    OSCAR1 said:
    I think we all  need to be aware that with the current situation... The goverment will find means and ways to stop as many claims as possible new claims and existing claims!!!!! B&W were doing a survey asking people whether they would be happy with a telephone assesement or a face to face assesement I opted for a face to face assesement that way they can see how bad a claiment really is.. I no some assessors lie in there reports but I think it will be even worse if they do telephone assesements it's like trying to explain a medical condition to your doctor over the phone for me it just does not work.. Like I said the goverment and D. W. P. Will try every trick in the book to get as many sick and disabled people off benefits they need to recoup the money they have last through covid and I, m afraid it will be us in the long run that will suffer once again... 
    And yet the anecdotal evidence this far is very clear. Telephone assessments are generally producing better outcomes than face to face because a lot of the judgemental stuff like “well presented” or “made good eye contact” or “wasn’t anxious as wasn’t sweating” or “responded to my voice when called” can’t happen on the phone. Nor can the informal functional assessments which so often record results inaccurately. Take all that out and it’s no surprise it’s working okay for claimants.

    Equally there are many examples of people who opted for face to face going back years on here who ended up distraught at the outcome. It’s really not a clear cut one is better than the other scenario at all. 
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 929 Pioneering
    OSCAR1 said:
    I think we all  need to be aware that with the current situation... The goverment will find means and ways to stop as many claims as possible new claims and existing claims!!!!! B&W were doing a survey asking people whether they would be happy with a telephone assesement or a face to face assesement I opted for a face to face assesement that way they can see how bad a claiment really is.. I no some assessors lie in there reports but I think it will be even worse if they do telephone assesements it's like trying to explain a medical condition to your doctor over the phone for me it just does not work.. Like I said the goverment and D. W. P. Will try every trick in the book to get as many sick and disabled people off benefits they need to recoup the money they have last through covid and I, m afraid it will be us in the long run that will suffer once again... 
    Isn't that something the government has been doing since 2010? As Mike rightly says telephone assessments are working in favour for some people. As for Benefits and Work i'm never too sure about them after all they charge people for what in the main is freely avaliable so they have an axe to grind.
    But overall i don't think it's the best idea in the world to frighten people who are already anxious about benefits do you ?
  • OSCAR1OSCAR1 Member Posts: 33 Connected
    No sorry I say it how I see it I,m not scaring people there's enough of that being done by the goverment the reality is the goverment have already fleeced people out of benefits and yes I do think we will be the scapegoats once again I am entitled to an opinion you now
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 4,391 Disability Gamechanger
    @kite there’s no such thing as a “benefits lawyer”. Lawyer in the UK means nothing. Solicitor is on the other hand a very specific thing. Few specialise in benefits. You have also misunderstood your decision. 18 points is an award and the 24 months is just guidance for the DWP. They can ignore it but equally so can you if you need to challenge the decision re: the support group.

    @OSCAR1 I noted the B&W survey but I must say I greeted it with a shrug. Asking people what they would prefer doesn’t really tell you anything meaningful. There’s no info in the results about who had even had an assessment before so you could literally be asking people what their preference was when they’d no way of knowing the pros and cons having never had one.

    I do agree that there’s a very real danger disabled people will suffer disproportionately in the aftermath of Covid-19 but nothing the government or DWP have done in the last 3 months supports your view that people will be tricked out of money. 

    The exact opposite is true. Telephone assessments are working better than face to face in most cases. Telephone hearings are certainly working better. Existing awards which were expiring have been extended without question. Sanctions were suspended. Universal Credit was increased. Your view of the long run is likely to be spot on. Your view of right now is, fortunately, nowhere near the reality. You’re entitled to your view but I’d be interested with how you square it with the above facts. 

    I also have to agree with @woodbine re: B&W. They’re not great on fact checking stories on occasion and charging is a highly contentious area when it comes to people on benefits who are of course on a fixed income.
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 929 Pioneering
    OSCAR1 said:
    No sorry I say it how I see it I,m not scaring people there's enough of that being done by the goverment the reality is the goverment have already fleeced people out of benefits and yes I do think we will be the scapegoats once again I am entitled to an opinion you now
    i would never suggest that anyone is not entitled to an opinion, but on this forum when it comes to benefits we try and stick to facts not personal opinions which can often have a negative effect on people who are struggling to come to terms with the benefits system.
    And with that I will bow out of this thread and say goodnight.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 4,391 Disability Gamechanger
    Yeah same here I think. Can see where this is going.. 
  • chiariedschiarieds Community champion Posts: 2,570 Disability Gamechanger
    edited July 2
    @OSCAR1 - May I kindly ask you to look through the community's guidelines which say, 'Do not present opinions as facts'. Please see: https://www.scope.org.uk/online-community-guidelines/  This link is not always immediately obvious, but hope you'll check it now, thank you.

  • kitekite Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Mikehugescq.  No I haven’t misunderstood, he’s received 18 points and been put in the wrag group.  He has already received contribution based benefit for the appeal phase for 365 days which ended in Feb. 2020 so he’s not entitled to any further payments.  I am well aware that the DWP can ignore tribunal advice in not assessing him within 24 months.  He already has a full record of NI credits and has had a pension forecast with regard to today’s law, who knows what’s going to happen in the future, with regard to any changes to pension qualifying age.  Lawyer/solicitor, whatever - there are some who deal with benefit claims.  The decision can only be challenged if the Tribunal has made a mistake in law, once we get the decision papers through, I will consult a solicitor.  If there hasn’t been a mistake in law, then we are stuffed.

    Our CAB lady has suggested we may be entitled to IRESA when I retire but I’m not sure how this works, has anyone come across this or can give me any info as I can’t seem to find anything specific about it.  For example she says that he can apply for income related ESA as a couple.

  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 4,391 Disability Gamechanger
    He may well have a sufficient NI record but the reason the tribunal made the decision they did is because their concern was entitlement not payment and the only reason the award is relevant is because he will get further NI credits. Those are useful in situations far beyond the amount of a state retirement pension. 

    I’m aware of the basis on which a tribunal decision can be challenged as I’m one of those people who do that kind of work! Almost all tribunals will err in law - it’s near impossible not to - and it doesn’t take a solicitor to identify that. The real issue therefore is what happens if they do. Going back to a first tier appeal only to lose again would be long winded and heartbreaking so this is the point to get advice from a welfare rights adviser as to the merits and his chances of getting from WRAG to Support Group. 

    The advice re: means tested ESA for mixed aged couples is complex and that is absolutely not one for a forum. In essence, you need an adviser to deal with all of this.
  • kitekite Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Mikehughescq.  Thank you, things are becoming clearer, but I don’t understand why, at a previous hearing he was placed into the support group under regs 29 and 35.  His situation hasn’t changed.   At a face to face hearing I do feel that the outcome would have been different, it’s the not type of decision you can make over the phone.  There are some illnesses that you just cannot detect over the phone.  I didn’t think the
    telephone Hearing was logical at all.  Yes they had all the paperwork and evidence but in hindsight I maybe should have shown our GP the wording of regs 29 and 35 so that he could confirm that my husband fits into that category.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 4,391 Disability Gamechanger
    Not sure I agree at all re telephone hearings. They don’t need to detect his illness as ESA, like PIP, is about the consequences on the ability to perform specific activities. In order to get into regs 29 and 35 you need to have a conversation with the claimant about the specifics of work-related activities. What they can and can’t do; the impact and why. Whether that’s face to face or over the phone it’s the same conversation and there’s nothing in that discussion which would be influenced by seeing the whites of someone’s eyes and almost certainly not when it comes to mental health. Ultimately, in a case like this, the type of hearing is a red herring. 

    One of the difficult truths people struggle with when it comes to the law is that two different tribunals can look at the same evidence; deduce different facts and come to different conclusions quite legitimately without that being an error of law. As long as the conclusion is within a reasonable range of those available it won’t be seen as perverse. Social security decisions are decided on the balance of probabilities i.e. what is more likely than not. That opens the door to lots of different views being equally valid. 

    You should have little difficulty finding an error of law on which to appeal but it’s by no means clear that a new tribunal would definitely come to a different conclusion. There’s nothing to say that because someone was in the support group previously they will always be so and, more importantly, nothing to say that even without a major change of circumstances, that a tribunal can’t conclude that support group was wrong. Granted the tribunal need to explain why they have drawn a different conclusion but drawing a different conclusion may well have been an option available to them based on the evidence. 

    This is why I say you need WR advice now. 
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