ESA student and offered part-time work

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Breathing!

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ESA student and offered part-time work

  • on: 25 Jun 2015 12:00PM
Hello
This is my first post on a forum so I hope it's OK. I have gone to my local CAB but the adviser I saw doesn't seem to know anything or care, and was even hostile.
I am a part-time PhD student with a chronic long-term illness, I find my studies extremely hard with my low energy levels. But I study with the hope of being well-enough to get a good job one day and come off benefits.
I am in the ESA support group, and get some housing benefit (but have to pay bedroom tax), and receive council tax benefit. I do not receive PIP or any other benefit.
My question or problem is this : My university has asked me to apply to teach as a graduate teaching assistant, so I applied and am waiting for the result. At the same time I was contacted by a teaching agency asking me if I wanted to work for two hours a week teaching something locally, so I applied for that, then the next day they suggested more little courses I could teach, so not wanting to turn down work, I applied for everything!
Now I am in a panic while I wait for the result because:

1. If I got all this work, I'd have to give up my studies as I am not well enough to do both substantial part-time work and part-time study.

2. If I continue with my studies and I get offered to teach ONE course to teach, I might manage, but then I'd be paid something like 44 a week for 27 weeks of the year. How does that affect my benefits in the ESA support group?

3. If I gave up my studies and tried to teach for  4 to 6 hours a week I'd get paid maybe around 100 a week for 27 weeks in the year. This would be great but would I lose my benefits?

Can someone give me some advice or your experience?

Thank you so much in advance, and bless you all. I haven't worked  for a very very long time and I feel caught in a Catch22 trap. If I work at what I can manage, then I have no money to live on, or pay my rent it seems.

Monic1511

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Hi
you need to look at the permitted work rules & this link tells you some of the rules http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/work-people-living-disability-or-health-conditions
The problem arises if you notify dwp that your situation has changed (you are supposed to tell) or your called for another work capability assessment and are found fit for work.  An assessor is going to say your "working" as a teacher and doing studies so your obviously fit enough for some work.

You need to do a what if calculation - what if I only have my earnings & housing benefit - you really should apply for PIP as it can get you extra housing benefit as well, if you had pip you might get a bedroom tax exemption and you should be applying for a discretionary housing payment to cover that shortfall anyway.

I think what will happen is that you take the work, will have an ESA medical & be told your fit, have to appeal and go to tribunal where if you get a sympathetic panel you'll get back into the support group - I had a good panel but they put my person in the wrag because "they were already volunteering and doing work related activity so could not be put in the support group" >crying<
best wishes
Monic

Breathing!

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Hello Monic

Thanks. I really despair at these benefits rules. I'll be stuck on benefits forever or will end up homeless and maybe dead if they cut them off.
 I don't want to claim or apply for more benefits. I just want to work a few hours and not starve or be homeless, I don't care if they deduct all the money I earn from my benefits as long as I can still get enough benefits to survive on.
David Cameron keeps saying in the news that he wants to help people in my situation but it doesn't look like it from where I am standing. These rules need to be a bit more flexible, one size doesn't fit all.
Anyway I am very grateful to you for sending me to those links. I guess tomorrow I will have to go back to the agency and tell them I can't take on any opportunities due to benefits rules,I'll have to withdraw my application to help to teach at the University, because my life is stressful enough, I don't need to go through tribunals to defend my right to work part-time and survive.
What a waste of everyone's time and money and  life!
Thank you, I'm not cross with you, only the system that won't let me do work that is offered to me and in time could lead to a career.
Best Wishes










Monic1511

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Hi
I agree that its hellish and the rules just make things worse - this is where universal credit is supposed to be better and more flexible but the real time computer system can't cope and the payment rules will make things even harder.

PIP isn't means tested and would be beneficial as its an IN and OUT of work benefit - you'd keep it even if you started work and it would mean you'd get tax credits and only have to work 16 hours to get them, thats why I suggested you apply for that, I appreciate you don't want to be on benefits but thats you (imo) accepting subconsiocusly that theres a problem/stigma attached to being on benefits - never mind I'm wandering

Your situation is a clasic one of I could take a job but the hassle involved will exacerbate my health & I'll get worse not better  :-(  >hugs< & good luck
Monic

Breathing!

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Hello Monic

Thanks for your help and understanding. There is nothing wrong with being on benefits. People should be helped when they need help and there is a lot of injustice and discrimination when it comes to who does and doesn't get them. Believe me I am on the side of those who are on benefits.

I feel like I'm in a double bind in my environment at the University. I am surrounded by people who have no idea or experience of being on benefits. On a PhD course half of our training is geared towards getting work and it makes me feel very positive, but the reality of these benefits regulations and of my health problems are both very difficult.

I might look into PIP but the idea of applying and possibly getting rejected is very difficult for me.
In an ideal world I wish every MP could live long-term on benefits and they would soon understand how difficult and depressing it can be, and how  much damage it can do to your self-confidence and ability to mix with people not on benefits.
In this country (UK) I feel everyone is treated like a criminal at the outset and so it prevents the majority from being able to have a good life, or do the best that they can. The rules are insane.

I also get lectured by small minded relatives who say stupid things like "I'm a tax payer why should  I support you?" or "I have a work ethic, I wouldn't be in your situation!". But in the past I worked and payed tax, and we all pay VAT. I do as much as I am able to contribute to society, but I can't help being too ill to do a full-time job.

Anyway I will consider the PIP option and will approach the organisation that helps people with my condition for advice on this.

Bless you and all those who struggle with these regulations, it is so dehumanizing.
x







Breathing!

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An Update:

I have just spent a few days being extremely depressed and ill. Now I have changed my mind somewhat.
Today I had the energy to speak to a welfare adviser and to think a little more.
IF (big if) I am offered work at the University I will take it. But only for 1 or 2 hours a week.
The other work from teaching agencies I will turn down.

I need to stand up for my right to work as a disabled person with a chronic illness and not starve or be homeless.

It has been made clear to me that if I do this work and tell the DWP, that my benefits may be completely cut off. Then I would have to appeal and my benefits could still be cut off leaving me totally destitute. Obviously that would be terrible, on my worst days I am too ill to deal with anything at all, like speaking to someone over the phone, so I don't know how I would deal with having nothing. I have no savings, no relatives willing to help out, I pay rent, have no partner.

But my heart and spirit tells me that if I am offered work at the University and I turn it down, in case I am thrown off benefits as my main income, it will kill me. It could kill me physically but if not, it will kill my heart and spirit.

I last filled in my ESA assessment form entirely honestly and was put in the support group. So I am going to trust my heart and sense of outrage and just go for it.

Hopefully I will be able to do permitted  work without being forced off my PhD course, or out of my home.

A year or so ago one of my old friends committed suicide, she had severe disabilities, but was thrown off benefits after an assessment. Her daily life was already hell. She is not the only one to decide to take her own life after being assessed as "fit for work".
 But if I find myself in the same situation I would not die or disappear conveniently, I'd make a big big fuss and make it really public (when well enough to do so).


Best Wishes to everyone whatever your thoughts on this x


« Last Edit: 30 Jun 2015 12:15PM by Breathing! »

KizzyKazaer

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Really sorry you lost a friend this way  >thumbsdown< 

I have been meaning to reply properly as you've raised some good points in your posts - bear with me until the heat is no longer stultifying my brain  ;-)  Of course, thinking about how the system sucks is not bringing the temperature down  >doh<

Just a thought - how would you feel if you were 'relocated' to the Work Related Activity Group (as opposed to being found totally 'fit for work' and denied ESA altogether)


Monic1511

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Hi

If you were moved to the work related activity group you would only lose about 5 money wise and you wouldn't need to attend any work related activity because you would be doing it by doing the permitted work.

I hope you have not been tooo put off and good luck if you do take the permitted work - you will probably flourish >hugs<  >thumbsup<
best wishes
Monic

Breathing!

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Thank you both.

The thing is this:

The rules change on benefits all the time, it seems that's one of the problems in general with the UK.  The Welfare system, Education, the NHS, Social Services, etc.... All the individual people working  in these organisations and all the individual people receiving a service from these institutions have to change to keep up with the self-appointed gods and goddesses of laws, regulations, and funding allocation who like to change and change and change the system again, regardless of consequences.
It was the same before the recession, but now change is escalating.

So in the end the only reliable constants are: 1. the actual problems and needs within society and 2. the intentions and efforts of individuals trying to cope with them.

 I realise now that I need  to calm down, survey these regulations which are open to interpretation and change, and just try to do my best to survive with my illness and these nightmare UK regulations. For the record, some other European countries treat their ill people a lot better, because they  have decided to prioritise the public's quality of life over big business and making lots of money.

Apart from that, it's not up to me whether my benefits will be cut off, or which benefit I will receive. I feel if I ask to be put on another benefit, it's likely to upset those who want to be in charge of my life, and who derive satisfaction from being in control of it.

Therefore I will take on a small amount  of work which I personally think I can do. Although I will go through all the procedures, I will not worry about forms, regulations, or "points", which are liable to change or interpretation by individuals whose job it is to distribute income from a limited pot of money.

Then I will pray (or something since I do not follow a particular religion) , that I will not be thrown off benefits. If I am thrown off benefits I will fight, but if I am not well enough to do that I do not  know what I will do yet. 

That's my plan and I am sticking to it. Of course that doesn't mean that I don't need to keep informed of regulation changes, but I am through with worrying about them, since worrying about benefits rules and tribunals just makes me ill and depressed and since there are no clear rules that people actually follow, it is pointless.

Thanks for all your information and input and I wish everyone out there lots of luck. X
 

Monic1511

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Hi Breathing

I'm glad your taking the "I will stop worrying about what I can't control" path  - if at any point you are thrown off benefits please either contact cab or post on here and we will try to help you as much as possible

best wishes
Monic

Breathing!

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Hello Monic

It's always good to be informed and to be warned of the worst case scenario, so thank you for your initial response. I am hoping for the best case scenario at the same time.

I am surprised at how many people have been reading my little bits of raging and ranting.
If anything I can write helps others or resonates with them then that's good.

Thanks for also telling I can get advice on this forum. I have also found a great adviser at the charity that deals with my health condition.

My local CAB is absolutely useless. They are the reason I came to this forum in the first place.

Two different advisers at my local CAB  told me not to apply for the discretionary bedroom tax allowance and to just pay the bedroom tax without questioning it. It was a senior officer in the housing benefits office who encouraged me to apply for the discretionary allowance instead.  I also found my local CAB advisers didn't believe anything I told them, and had a negative attitude towards me when I have politely asked them for advice in the past. So with friends like those at my local CAB, who needs enemies?

Anyway I am signing out for now. Take care everyone and thanks for all your help! x