IS and backdating rules

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xSparksx

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IS and backdating rules

  • on: 27 Jul 2013 07:29PM
Another question, I'm afraid, but not for me, this time (thank goodness!)

A lady who attends my mother's Quaker Meeting is having terrible difficulties with her Income Support. I won't go into the details because it's long and complicated, but I was hoping you lovely people will know the answer to one simple question.

If the DWP have overpaid IS, how far back are they allowed to reclaim benefits? This lady is being told they're reclaiming overpayments going back 6 years. Is this right?

Hurtyback

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 27 Jul 2013 07:35PM
Unfortunately, I believe there is no 'statute of limitation' on overpaid benefit. I have heard of people who are having overpayments reclaimed even though they were made many years ago (longer than 6 years)  :-( 

Monic1511

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 27 Jul 2013 07:59PM
Hi
Government debts remain live for 20 years, typically the DWP will stop the claim and reclaim every penny ever paid on the assumption that your claim was wrong from the very beginning.   She needs to appeal the overpayment decision and start looking back to the start of her claim so she can work out what she was due all that time
 >hugs<
Monic

xSparksx

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 27 Jul 2013 08:09PM
Thanks Monic and Hurtyback, I was horribly afraid that would be the answer :S

She has already appealed - long story short, she called up her overseer at Meeting in despair, overseer put her in contact with Mum and I on the basis that we're on benefits and have some understanding of the system, and thus might be able to help. Her tribunal date is Friday, she found out about this on Tuesday and wrote to request a postponement because she couldn't arrange childcare (she is a single parent, full-time carer of her sick son, which is the basis of her IS claim) and had said she couldn't do it at short notice because she has to have her representative with her. She found out today that the postponement was refused, she can't talk to her (part-time) advisor at CAB until Tuesday, and Mum and I are trying to muddle through working out what she needs to do :S

Simplest thing at this stage, I think, is for her to go to the tribunal and request a postponement in person because she hasn't had adequate time to prepare, that she said she couldn't do short notice, and that she needs her representative with her. Hopefully Mum will be able to go with her as moral support :S Does that sound appropriate, do you think?

Monic1511

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 27 Jul 2013 08:12PM
Hi Sparks

Yes she needs to attend  the tribunal in person and ask for a postponement on the grounds that she hasn't had time to prepare,  I hate to say this but is there any chance she can take her disabled son with her when making the postponement request as it is more likely to get the tribunal chairperson to agree to an postponement

Good luck
Monic

xSparksx

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 27 Jul 2013 08:23PM
I'm not sure, Monic, but I'll make sure Mum suggests it to her. Thanks, Monic, you are as ever terribly helpful :) it all sounds like a complete mess, tbh, and there's very little either Mum or I can do, but obviously we'll help her as much as we can.

devine63

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 27 Jul 2013 11:24PM
Hi

this might be one to get the MP involved (always best to turn up in person at his/her constituency surgery sessions as that way you speak to the person themself and not an underling).   If the error is DWP's and the lady has no resources from which to repay what was overpaid, the MP may be able to get them to reduce the amount owed or write it off.

She should attend as planned, taking the children to make the point that she could not arrange carers at short notice either.  BUT be prepared for the possibility that they might not agree to postpone - so have at least the outline of a defence prepared - most probably that would be "it was their error, I had no idea they had make an error.  I have no means by which to pay back the overpayment which they made by mistake, doing so would have a severely detrimental effect on my children and cause me enormous stress".

regards, Deb

xSparksx

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 28 Jul 2013 01:50PM
I'm not sure it /is/ DWP error tbh, Deb. It sounds like it's partly because she got several lump sums because of underpayments, which she then put in an ISA for future mortgage payments. Partly it's because they're counting Direct Payments as savings - which I know they can't do! It sounds, tbh, like nobody told her about the savings rules for IS and she's tried to do 'the right thing' and save some money for a rainy day, but has been clobbered because of it.

And her MP is....Andrew Lansley. Oh yes. Somehow I'm not sure he'll be that helpful :S

But she has no means to make the repayments, certainly not at the rate they're trying to take them. Particularly since she's also getting clobbered by council tax - the JCP informed the council that she wasn't eligible for it for certain dates, again going back 6 years, and after months of being hassled she's finally managed to talk the council round to paying it back at 40 a month. I really don't know what she's living on, to be quite honest. It all sounds really quite dire. Her son's very ill and has to attend Great Ormond Street several times a year, which is expensive and she finds it very difficult :S

Another quick question: her son receives DLA. Does this count as her money for income or savings purposes? Similarly, her son has one of those government trust funds that were set up under the last government - does that count as her money?

Fiz

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 28 Jul 2013 03:52PM
Apparently although the DWP cannot pursue debts accrued by overpayment through the courts after 6 years (unless the overpayment was caused by fraud where there would be no time limit) the debt remains live and the monies are owed indefinitely. I know people who are having deductions made from their pension credits/pensions from alleged overpayments from decades before when they were young people! So far back they are unable to remember details of any loan/payment and they have been unsuccessful in appealing it even though the DWP have been unable to produce evidence of the overpayments beyond basic entries onto the computer, no proof of payment or anything. The DWP have all the power as they simply deduct monies from the payments the person is due.

Monic1511

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 28 Jul 2013 08:24PM
Hi Sparks

OK from what you say she had put an underpayment into an ISA, if she can prove that then I am sure that they are not meant to count backdated benefit payments as capital.  she would need to find the letter showing the backdated payment and then the letter showing the money going into the ISA.  I just checked the cpag book and arrears of dla are disregarded for 52 weeks after they were awarded, this might reduced the amount she owes if she can prove thats where the capital comes from


She would need to do a financial statement and show the DLA money coming in as income and going out again as an expense for her son (clothes, taxis, extra cleaning costs etc)

good luck
Monic

devine63

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 28 Jul 2013 08:29PM
xSparksX

I suggest that this lady should contact the Stepchange people (http://www.stepchange.org/ ) they are a Debt Management charity, used to be known as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.  I know from personal experience they are great and they know how to use the govt's own regulations on debt management to ensure that the lady and her son have enough to live on (including dealing with any disability related costs).  One has to give them all the necessary financial details, but they can get the various people who are owed money to accept whatever level of payments are possible after basic living costs are covered.

Even if the MP is Lansley it would still be worth getting him involved as he has a duty to his constituents and he's exactly the kind of person who knows about these cases.

As for whether the son's DLA etc. counts as part of her income - I don't know and I'm not even sure whether it makes a difference whether he is under or over 18.    If he's over 18 it is definitely his money and should be in an account in his name - even if mum then has to operate it for him.  i'm not sure of the position if he is under 18.

regards, Deb 

Fiz

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 28 Jul 2013 09:29PM
Her sons money could go into his own account that she has access to which would simplify things sparks.

xSparksx

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 29 Jul 2013 03:21PM
I don't know whether it is or isn't in a separate account - I assume so since she says it's in his name - but the question is, as she's the adult 'in charge' of his claim, does JCP consider it her money? If it's in a separate account I presume she still has access to it, because he's only 10!

sherbs

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 29 Jul 2013 08:52PM
Does your friend have any money in the Isa that the dwp could get hold of, as I am not sure if the isa money could be taken off her to repay some of the debt.

I suppose they will get the money back somehow, I just hope she can pay it off at a reasonable rate so her and her child won't do without and struggle.

Funny how when we owe them money they can set up meetings in a short time, but I bet if they owed us money it would take ages to get that money into our bank accounts.

Monic1511

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Re: IS and backdating rules

  • on: 30 Jul 2013 07:21PM
Hi Sherbs

if the lady has an isa and is now below the capital limits she could offer a lump sum repayment or try & negotiate with DWP but if her savings are more than the overpayment technically the DWP could pursue a bank arrestment to take all of the cash.   If she loses the tribunal and admits the overpayment she could ask to pay it over several years but its personal choice.   I remember a person asking to repay the overpayment at 3.90/week which would take several years but the same person had more than the overpayment in savings.   I found it very odd as I would want to be clear of the debt and by repaying the overpayment they would then again qualify for means tested benefits.   The person concerned was worried about unexpected emergencies which might or might not happen.

Oh well - people are all different
Monic