Ouch Too - a place for and about disabled people.

Forum => Welfare Rights => Topic started by: deebeeb on 03 Mar 2012 12:09PM

Title: contributory ESA
Post by: deebeeb on 03 Mar 2012 12:09PM
hello, I've been a lurker on here since day one, and am a previous BBc ouch lurker.  I aren't keen on posting as I don't feel I have the knowledge to be very helpful - but I am now asking for your help/advice.

I have been on contribution based ESA for almost 2 years.  I had the medical, the workbased interviews and thankfully was put in the WRAG with out the need for appeal etc.  I recieved a letter over the christmas period informing me that my claim would stop once the government pushed through their 1/2 year time limit.   And that I could apply for income based ESA.   I intend to do this as my illness is incurable, progressive and very painful.  I am really worried about what happens though;  will I be left with no income in the interim period?  Will I just recieve the basic ESA for 13 weeks?  At the moment I recieve about £147 a week including premiums (am also in receipt of middle rate care DLA and high rate mobility). 

Another concern I have is that I am going on holiday the first week in April as I was lucky enough to come into a few hundred pounds - will this go against me?  Even though my specialist thinks it is a good idea to get away in the warmth and sunshine for a bit?  I can just see it - my letter/medical/etc being when I am away!

Any advice would be very welcome  :-)
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 03 Mar 2012 01:02PM
Hi Deebeeb - first and foremost, you say:

I aren't keen on posting as I don't feel I have the knowledge to be very helpful - but I am now asking for your help/advice.

Don't feel you should only post if it's 'helpful' - just post about anything and everything!  We welcome all thoughts and opinions (as long as they're expressed within our rules, of course - you know, politely and all that  ;-) )  Come in to the Cafe for some light relief as well; being disabled doesn't have to be all doom and gloom  >biggrin<

About the ESA - it's a very new situation for all of us regarding the time limits on the contributory benefit and any subsequent transfer to income-based, so I can't say 'yay or nay' about whether you will be placed on a standard rate of ESA or not while you're claiming income-based.  I think your best bet is to phone the DWP themselves to check if payments will continue at the same rate during that process.  As for the holiday, a week isn't going to affect anything ... and no, it won't go 'against you' if you are unavailable for that short period of time, and you may not even need to have a medical anyway.

(I say 'may' because currently the DWP are being rather unpredictable on in how they are choosing to re-assess, so best to be prepared for anything   >erm< )
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 03 Mar 2012 02:13PM

The change from contribution based ESA to income based ESA is an administrative one that takes place once the time limit is up eg one year. It does not mean you will have to have another medical and go through assessment process again, so you benefit about as such should not be reduced because of that. Kizzy is right it would be a good idea to give the DWP and find out how your claim is going to be be moved from contribution based to income based.

People are allowed savings of up to £6000 and still get income based benefits so dont worry go and have a lovely holiday.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: Monic1511 on 03 Mar 2012 08:08PM

A few questions about your situation - are you part of a couple?  The reason I ask is that if you are then when you move to income based ESA the DWp will consider your partner's income and if its more than they say you need to live off then you'll lose money.  If you live alone and have no other income at all and your sayings are less than £6000 then your money won't stop, you may get a letter from DWP to confirm that you have no other income coming into the house hold but other than that you shouldn't notice.

Problems arise is you have other income for example an occupational pension, with con based ESA the first £85 of your occ pen is ignored - under income based ESA none of the pension is ignored >angry<.
DLA is ignored and as long as the money for your holiday as long as its below £6K the DWP won't even consider it.

Let me know if that helps
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 03 Mar 2012 08:30PM
I have a question... are all these people, whose ESA stops on April 1st, being sent means forms to fill out for irESA?

Are they being advised that they can and should be applying (re-applying) for HB, CTB, IS etc?

And if everyone is getting the right forms, or directed to the right advice, surely the system will grind to a miserable halt with the overwhelming onslaught of means tested benefit applications?
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: deebeeb on 03 Mar 2012 08:40PM
hi everyone, thank you for your replies.  I live alone with my 13 year old son.  Not much in savings - under a grand.  The letter I got over christmas time said I could apply for income based ESA and that I may/may not need to have another medical.  But I understood it as meaning that my current claim would become null and void and I would have to start from scratch so to speak.  I am also really worried (as are a lot of others) about the transition to PIP - but that worry can wait for another time :-)
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 03 Mar 2012 09:30PM
can you remember how long your ESA award was for? if it was a three year award then you switch to irESA without the need for a medical. If your award ends the first week of April...  Can you find the award letter?

I would ring the JC+ to check how they are handling the change-over.

Meanwhile I will check to see if I can find anything...
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 03 Mar 2012 09:44PM
From here;


Changes to contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance

The Welfare Reform Bill proposes two changes to contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA):

    to limit the amount of time that people in the Work Related Activity Group can receive contribution-based ESA to 365 days; and
    prevent any new claims for ESA on grounds of youth.

The 104 week linking rule is also being abolished.

We expect these changes to take effect on the 30 April 2012.

People in the Support Group and those solely claiming income-related ESA are not affected by these changes.

Claimants whose entitlement to contribution-based ESA ends after 365 days will be able to get income-related Employment and Support Allowance subject to satisfying the normal eligibility criteria.

Claimants can ask to be considered for income-related ESA at any time by contacting Jobcentre Plus and completing a form called an ESA3.
What are you doing for Claimants immediately affected by Time Limiting?

From the 29 February 2012, we will be contacting (by phone in the first instance) people in receipt of contribution-based ESA who have not been assessed for income-related ESA and whose benefit will end between 30 April and 3 June to give them early notification of the expected change to their benefit and to ask if they wish to be considered for income-related ESA.

In addition, all claimants whose benefit is expected to end by the 3 June 2012 inclusive will be sent a notification on 9 April 2012 informing them of the date their benefit will end and whether they have an entitlement to income-related ESA registered. Depending on the date the claimant’s entitlement is due to end, a reminder notification will be issued if no contact is made with the Department.

Claimants whose benefit will end after 3 June will receive 8 weeks’ notice before their contribution-based benefit ends.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 03 Mar 2012 09:50PM
So its not the 1st of April, its the 30th of April - phew!

If you switch to irESA you may still have to re-apply for HB, CTb etc.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: deebeeb on 03 Mar 2012 10:06PM
thanks ever so much Hossylass :-)

The 'award' is open ended.  But it does state on one line 'client is aware she has an incurable progressive illness'.  then the next line 'I anticipate client will be fit for work in 2 years' !!!  They obviously are expecting a miracle to occur >doh<

So I assumed I would be reassessed after 2 years? This was in end of April 2010

The nurse practitioner who carried out my medical made out to me I would be in the support group, but no.  When I went for first work based interview thing, the woman was shocked I was there, and carried out the rest of these interviews over the telephone; then went on to say she would help me to appeal if I was placed in the WRAG again.   So confusing and unnecessary  >blush<
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 03 Mar 2012 10:26PM
Hmmm, so you would be reassessed at the end of April, but could well be a paper assessment, as you have the award letter that states you have an incurable progressive illness.

They anticipate that you will, through a series of mandatory NLP courses and positive thinking, combined with a shiney cv and having adapted to the fact you are physically screwed, have adjusted your expectations and be prepared to die for your country - only joking (they are all sound bites from MP's) - hence the expectation of work readiness in two years.

Its a farce, as the remainder of the system doesn't work.
They assume that you will have accessible transport, adequate care, aids and adaptations, a support network, blah, blah, none of which have appeared in the last two years (I assume).

Being shocked at the work based interviews is a common thing, the people who run these are horrified by the lack of functionality of the people who are sent to them, so tend to send them home.

Anyhow, the onus appears to be on the DWP and JC+ to ensure that you get the right paperwork. The ESA50 may arrive during your holidays though, so it may be worth having someone you can trust to open your mail while you are away, and ring you if you need to get it back before you return from holiday, as that could be a problem.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: deebeeb on 04 Mar 2012 08:53AM
Hossylass, yep, thats just what I was thinking!  My sister is going to open any dodgy brown envelopes for me.  And hopefully any forms won't need filling in and sending back within a week.  I don't know how much time you are allowed to fill these things in?
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 04 Mar 2012 10:15AM
It was 4 weeks, but the swines are thinking of changing it to two.

I dont know if this happens now, and if not when it comes in, but it was only suggested recently.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: Sofie on 04 Mar 2012 01:56PM
So its not the 1st of April, its the 30th of April - phew!

If you switch to irESA you may still have to re-apply for HB, CTb etc.

irESA entitles you to full council tax benefit and full housing benefit for your circumstances. Whereas I don't think cESA does.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 04 Mar 2012 02:04PM
Its the income, not the name.

So the income from both may be the same, and thus entitle you to  means tested benefits.
However it also may not be the same amount, so there's the caveat.
There are lots of reasons why the ESA (or IB) is not the same for everyone, from add-ons such as age related, to deductions, such as pensions.

Also, you will probably have to reapply for the other means tested benefits, because if I am any judge, the computers wont like it >lol<
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: Monic1511 on 04 Mar 2012 06:03PM
Hi Guys
re housing benefit "If you switch to irESA you may still have to re-apply for HB, CTb etc."   What you have to do is contact your housing benefit team and ask them to send you a "change of Circumstances" form.   Many councils will not insist you complete the form but you should take the letter you eventually get from DWP saying your entitled to Income related ESA into the housing office.   A Change of circs is often a 1 page form asking what changed and from what date and asking for proof of the change.  So that would be Con based ESA ended on 01/04/12 and Income related award letter attached.     I know its difficult for a lot of you but if you take your form into the office you get a receipt so get proof you notified them, where if you post it in it can go awol and you have no proof.

The difference between income based ESA & con based ESA is that on con based you cannot apply for community care grants but you can if your on income related ESA despite both claimaints getting £67.50/week (arrgh)

Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 04 Mar 2012 06:08PM
I think I saw Eric Pickles eat the last community care grant available in the whole country... he thought it was a currant bun, bless him  :(

If you were on Con ESA though you may have had other income (because as Chris Grayling explained, some of us may be millionaires...) or not be eligable for means tested benefits, which is the criteria.
Same problem with IB, it was taxable income, not a means tested benefit, so no CCG's.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: agapanthus on 05 Mar 2012 09:16AM
Thank you so much for posting that official link Hoss - I was wondering too about the details, and now feeling quite elated to have a month's reprieve!!  :-) My acupuncturist will be pleased too, as I can carry on seeing him now for another month.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 05 Mar 2012 12:34PM
I have to admit being nagged by the thought, and in view of the DWP-JC-Atos cockups in the past.

Relieved too that they "have a plan"... though I still think that it will be a big task..
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: oldtone27 on 05 Mar 2012 01:04PM
"Relieved too that they "have a plan"... "  

Would that be a 'cunning plan'? Given the DWP and its cohort's track record I think Baldric's plans would have a better chance of success.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: hossylass on 05 Mar 2012 01:15PM
Yep, the cycnic in me can foresee some people havign a nightmare.

The leadtime seems very short as those who are losing cESA in less than 40 working days haven't received the forms yet :(
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: deebeeb on 05 Mar 2012 05:17PM
I am going to ring them tomorrow, just waiting is making me really nervous and jittery >blush<
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 05 Mar 2012 06:40PM
I think that's a really good plan - get it from the 'horse's mouth' as it were... Let us know how you get on!
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: deebeeb on 06 Mar 2012 08:28PM
well, I rang them today and it was good news!

They have moved me onto income based ESA as my contributions had ran out.  I asked when my next medical was and was told there was 'no reminder' on the system!!!  I went on to ask what this meant - the reply? - 'you may have a medical in the future, but there is nothing planned thus far, perhaps it's because of your illness'.

Kind of begs the question as why I am not in the support group?  But I'm not going to rock the boat by asking that question.  She did inform me I could appeal the decision, as my letter was dated 16th Feb - what letter??  I have not received any letter!!  but hey ho
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 06 Mar 2012 08:33PM
So the transfer is painless then - not even a form to fill out?  That's very encouraging - thanks for 'reporting back'  >thumbsup<

(you could apply for the support group, but the DWP may then re-assess your entire award - with the attendant risk of losing the lot, just like DLA.  So you're probably wise letting sleeping dogs lie  ;-) )
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: deebeeb on 06 Mar 2012 08:38PM
no forms at all to fill out, no phone calls, no questions, no nothing.  maybe I'm lucky as my contributions had ran out before April this year??

she did ask me over the phone today if I had any savings and if I still lived alone with my son, ie, any changes to report.  No changes.  But they had made the change-over on the 16th Feb without this information any way.  Doesn't make sense does it?  But I'm pleased, not much goes my way so I saw this as a small victory; kinda  >lol<
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: Hurtyback on 06 Mar 2012 10:13PM
I am so glad that this is sorted and one less thing to worry about.
You ask why you were not put into the support group if DWP accept that you have a long-term illness, and IDS/Chris grayling would have people believe that is the system. However, there is no support group descriptor for having a long-term condition, the criteria are very specific and do not look at the permanence of the condition.
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 07 Mar 2012 05:21PM
I'm moving this to the Welfare Rights board for future reference ..
Title: Re: contributory ESA
Post by: Fizzbw on 10 Mar 2012 11:50AM
Which is where, hopefully, my MP will do the research I asked him to do, find out how many people have "unlikely to work in the longer term" on their medical report forms, yet are placed In the WRAG.

It would probably be good if more MP's were asked to do it, I have every intention of nagging mine, but a scatter gun approach is more effective.

Fizzbw xxx