Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • Accacia
    • By Accacia 20th May 17, 2:12 AM
    • 10Posts
    • 1Thanks
    Accacia
    Studying on disability benefits
    • #1
    • 20th May 17, 2:12 AM
    Studying on disability benefits 20th May 17 at 2:12 AM
    I am in support group for ESA (next assessment due November 2017) and enhanced rate for both parts of PIP. Through that I also get HB. I'm hoping to maybe continue with OU as something to help my mental health and just give me a purpose to exist really. However I'm struggling to find out whether I'd lose my disability benefits if I did sign up, as they would see it as proof I can work. I've spoken to OU and they offer plenty of support which would make this doable for me, such as exams at home and phone or home visit tutorials as I can't get out.

    Does anyone have any advice where about this? I'm too ill to work, there is a mental health element to my disability but it's mainly physical. All I would be able to get and all I'd want to get is a tuition fees loan, as OU is part time so no maintenance grants/loans so I don't think I would be denying myself income which I know is an issue. Would this affect my benefits now or at my next assessment for ESA? I have 10 years on my PIP award and the course would be for 5 years.
Page 1
    • GotToChange
    • By GotToChange 20th May 17, 9:26 AM
    • 1,251 Posts
    • 1,313 Thanks
    GotToChange
    • #2
    • 20th May 17, 9:26 AM
    • #2
    • 20th May 17, 9:26 AM
    I have been studying with the OU for a long time and have in that time, worked/been on JSA and then ESA (mainly MH - in Support Group). You should be perfectly OK.... It used to be the case that the JCP would actually sign off your application for OU /Government funding - but the funding has now ceased, so DWP will probably have no involvement. I don't know if you even have to tell them, especially if you aren't signing on and besides, it is also considered something that you could do alongside work, were you able to work. It does not at all mean that you can work, although it may well have some therapeutic benefit.

    (If you are not required to tell them, then don't. I just had an assessment and I did mention it - only how my MH has actually affected my ability to study - but it was not something she dwelt on; she did tell me at the time that I would stay in the Support Group.)

    Also, just wanted to add, be very careful if your MH does affect your ability to absorb the information, although Level One does ease you in gradually.... You are taking on quite a debt (even though yes, of course, less than brick university fees). When I started, I claimed fee support and through that am still eligible for lower fees (runs out soon) but that has gone, along with the small grant you used to get (£300 per year) BUT I think there is still some kind of Disability Support, which you would probably be eligible for. Some of it is equipment (laptop, voice recorder etc - maybe other things if you are physically disabled too) and some in the form of additional tutor support; the OU will suggest that you apply for it (again, if it still exists).
    Last edited by GotToChange; 20-05-2017 at 9:42 AM.

    • Alice Holt
    • By Alice Holt 20th May 17, 5:55 PM
    • 1,476 Posts
    • 1,573 Thanks
    Alice Holt
    • #3
    • 20th May 17, 5:55 PM
    • #3
    • 20th May 17, 5:55 PM
    Try:
    https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/how-we-can-help/helplines/disabled-students-helpline

    "Telephone: 0800 328 5050

    Opening hours: 11am-1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays

    email: students@disabilityrightsuk.org

    Our advisors can advise and support disabled people who are studying or wish to study at any level on full-time or part-time education or training courses....."

    Are you getting a grant / loan to help with the course costs?
    Is their a living allowance / maintenance element included?
    Is your ESA income or contribution based?
    • Accacia
    • By Accacia 21st May 17, 6:48 AM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Accacia
    • #4
    • 21st May 17, 6:48 AM
    • #4
    • 21st May 17, 6:48 AM
    Hi thankyou for the replies.

    I've made a start and requested my assessment report from my ESA assessment. I never received any paperwork at all from them so I don't know exactly what the report says, I know plenty of people find things contrary to what they say in the medical there so I want to check. Nervous about seeing that report. If I read through it and there is nothing there that is contradicted by me studying part time, I may then go ahead and try to get on the course. I worry they've put something that may indicate I can't study though.

    The money would only be for the official student loan which I'd not receive so hopefully doesn't count as income. As it's part time I can't claim any living costs or grants or anything a full time student would be eligible for, which I hope won't affect my saving amount or denying myself of money. The debt isn't a worry for me, I've never done a degree so it'd be my only student debt, and I've never borrowed money for any reason. So my only debt would be the 'safest' form, if ever I get to point of working again and earn over 21k I'll happily pay it back!

    I've spoken to someone at OU and they offer support for disabled students such as phone tutorials and exams at home, and there is a disabled student allowance but I don't think I would need to claim it as the course I want to do is sociology so no specialist equipment. I have a sort of usable laptop and used PIP to buy a scanner print thing for scanning my benefit info for sending for things like blue badge, so I can use that. I lack a dvd player or disc drive but I'm told everything is online now.

    Thanks Alice for the phone line and info I will certainly look at that. In answer to your questions, no grant or loan available as it's part time with OU, just regular student loan paid by student loan company direct to the OU. Only full time students can apply for the usual means tested maintenance loans for living costs. My ESA is income based as I haven't paid enough NI apparently.
    • Accacia
    • By Accacia 21st May 17, 6:50 AM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Accacia
    • #5
    • 21st May 17, 6:50 AM
    • #5
    • 21st May 17, 6:50 AM
    However I'm kind of worried about even applying now as my searches online have lead to threads saying applying for even part time study has triggered an immediate assessment with ESA which is terrifying. If they decide I can suddenly miraculously work I'll lose my home.
    • Alice Holt
    • By Alice Holt 21st May 17, 8:52 AM
    • 1,476 Posts
    • 1,573 Thanks
    Alice Holt
    • #6
    • 21st May 17, 8:52 AM
    • #6
    • 21st May 17, 8:52 AM
    A loan purely to cover courses fees / costs wouldn't, I think, be counted as income for calculating IB ESA & HB.

    Re the ESA next assessment, all I can suggest is to be very thorough with the next ESA50 form. There are a lot of online resources e.g.
    https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-claims
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/employment-and-support-allowance/help-with-your-esa-claim/fill-in-form/
    Be aware of how the points are allocated:
    https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/start-the-esa-test
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535942/esa214-july-2016.pdf

    Have medical evidence ready to send with the form. It is particularly useful if you can get evidence directly relating to the relevant descriptors. Evidence from family can be useful too.
    It may also be helpful to make contact with your local CAB.

    Make your renewal application as strong as you can, don't presume the decision maker will refer back to previous information.

    And of course should you need to, you can appeal a flawed ESA decision (and your CAB can help with this), and having a strong ESA50 will help you to get a bad decision overturned.

    Good luck with the OU course.
    • GotToChange
    • By GotToChange 21st May 17, 7:36 PM
    • 1,251 Posts
    • 1,313 Thanks
    GotToChange
    • #7
    • 21st May 17, 7:36 PM
    • #7
    • 21st May 17, 7:36 PM
    However I'm kind of worried about even applying now as my searches online have lead to threads saying applying for even part time study has triggered an immediate assessment with ESA which is terrifying. If they decide I can suddenly miraculously work I'll lose my home.
    Originally posted by Accacia

    Deleted.....

    • w06
    • By w06 21st May 17, 8:44 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 444 Thanks
    w06
    • #8
    • 21st May 17, 8:44 PM
    • #8
    • 21st May 17, 8:44 PM
    Try not to catastrophise.

    I've not claimed out of work benefits in a long time but at my PIP assessment the assessor and I talked a fair bit about my job, which although at the moment it's a PhD is esentially the same as when I was an RA and will be the same when I'm (hopefully!) a post doc. I can only do it because the niche I've carved allows me to work despite my disablities.

    The assesor - who also did ESA assessments - totally got that I need to work and to have a career, but also made it very clear that any assessment of my fitness to work would find me not fit to work because by any of their measures I'm not.

    So long as you've been honest in your previous assessments you've nothign to hide, just be honest and do what you'd like to do studying wise. It is good for you to be doing something.

    One word of caution though is the cost. Have you thought of starting off with some of the free online courses that are available rather than OU which is really quite expensive. Google Coursera they have some good courses, that might pique your interest and help you figure whether it's right for you. The ones that I've looked at are free unless you want a certificate, which if it's to stretch yourself you don't need.

    good luck!
    • Accacia
    • By Accacia 22nd May 17, 2:09 AM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Accacia
    • #9
    • 22nd May 17, 2:09 AM
    • #9
    • 22nd May 17, 2:09 AM
    What do you mean by deleted? Do I need to delete have a broken a rule?

    w06- yes this is exactly what I want to find, something I can do despite my disabilities. I've done one year with OU at degree level and a few more courses like 15 or 30 credit ones over the years. I've found a route to a degree which will have one exam the entire 5 more years I'd need to do, or even none I I pick a different unit. I know what to expect with it so hopefully would be able to.

    I actually did a few courses with Coursera a while back but now I've stopped even looking as I can't find any free any more! They all seem to explain the course and the contents then list the fee to do it, not just for the certificate. Getting a degree level qualification is very important to me and always has been, twice I've started down a route and ended up having to stop (NVQ4, equivalent to HND/foundation degree stopped when my workplace closed, Early Years foundation degree stopped due to becoming homeless/financial issues- no funding issues from either of those though) . Just to do that would be a dream. The degree I've picked carries on from the year I've done and would be both interesting to do and be useful should medicine ever catch up with my condition! I loathe being on benefits and if I could work I would go right back into childcare.

    With the expenses I wouldn't even consider doing this is it was a regular loan or upfront fees or any payment scheme in general. It's only because it's the official student loan with it's set rules of paying back and how it's considered in circumstances like applying for a mortgage should that ever occur! I'm also looking at how I would cope if I went ahead and was accepted on the course and that lead to me losing my ESA. I would also lose HB and CTC which would be incredibly rough but potentially doable. I just have to do something apart from sit and stagnate alone, just want a reason to wake up each day.
    • Penitent
    • By Penitent 22nd May 17, 9:13 AM
    • 1,361 Posts
    • 4,153 Thanks
    Penitent
    What do you mean by deleted? Do I need to delete have a broken a rule?
    Originally posted by Accacia
    Sometimes people decide to delete what they've written after they've posted it, but instead of just deleting the post they edit it to say "deleted". If they do it quickly enough, there's no note underneath to say it's been edited.
    • GotToChange
    • By GotToChange 22nd May 17, 9:41 AM
    • 1,251 Posts
    • 1,313 Thanks
    GotToChange
    Sometimes people decide to delete what they've written after they've posted it, but instead of just deleting the post they edit it to say "deleted". If they do it quickly enough, there's no note underneath to say it's been edited.
    Originally posted by Penitent

    Yes - my mistake, I should have also deleted the quote. I wanted to say again that as far as I am aware, there is NO requirement to divulge OU study to the DWP, for JSA/ESA..... BUT then realised that that has been my experience, and procedures and policies might have changed since the OU brought in SL funding for fees and the fact that SLs have to be declared (again, I'm not sure of this either).
    Last edited by GotToChange; 22-05-2017 at 9:44 AM.

    • Penitent
    • By Penitent 22nd May 17, 11:01 AM
    • 1,361 Posts
    • 4,153 Thanks
    Penitent
    Yes - my mistake, I should have also deleted the quote.
    Originally posted by GotToChange
    It's easier/neater just to delete the post entirely. There's a delete button on the edit screen. The only posts you can't delete are the original post in a thread and (I think) posts that are over a certain age.
    • Accacia
    • By Accacia 22nd May 17, 1:42 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Accacia
    Oh good thanks I'm new here so I wondered if I broke a rule!
    • teddysmum
    • By teddysmum 22nd May 17, 3:49 PM
    • 8,359 Posts
    • 4,970 Thanks
    teddysmum
    Before embarking on a degree course, do check that you really can get the support you hope for, in your home area.

    I did my degree (maths) many years ago and anyone could get a phone tutorial, but you had to pay for the calls yourself (only from hearsay, as I didn't need any).

    At the time of some of my later exams, I had a breast fed newborn and was told that, possibly, I could do the exams at home, but this didn't happen and I had to feed the baby in the car, as soon as the exam ended (husband was with him; he wasn't left alone).

    You mention home tutorials, but I do wonder about this as, though at the much easier foundation course level there are likely to be a number of local on the same course, meaning a local tutor, things are not so straightforward for the higher levels.

    At higher levels, there is much less chance that locals will choose the same course, so together with dropouts, this means that students are more widely spread, meaning your tutor could be hundreds of miles away.
    • Accacia
    • By Accacia 23rd May 17, 1:03 AM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Accacia
    Thanks for the reply Teddysmum. The home tutorials wasn't mentioned by OU itself in the call but has been brought up in various threads and discussions about OU. But I can live without that. I don't think phone tutorials would be charged or if so should hopefully fall under call allowances on my plan, I'm on the cheapest sim only plan I could find with internet as my home internet is very poor.

    The course I'm looking at is Sociology, without the specialism, to give more choice. I've looked at every unit on it and I can do the entire 5 years with no exams, if I switch one crime course for a psychology. And you are correct about the likelihood of students becoming more spread out as the course progresses, I hadn't even considered that but it makes sense! Something else to consider.

    As an update, I received my ESA medical report form today (ESA85). Very interesting to read. Seems the person who did it was a nurse which makes sense as I found her professional and caring but not overly, as opposed to my PIP assessor who was rude, cold and very patronising. From the look of the report the main focus was my physical disabilities and less documented of the mental (depression and anxiety, the anxiety mainly to do with social things). So I can see nothing on it that would suggest doing a part time distance course would go against their reasons for giving ESA, which is what I know already but my concern was something misreported or I myself made a mistake in the medical making it seem I couldn't do it. It was a very stressful day and mid flare-up so I was in a great deal of pain and on strong painkillers so not exactly myself.

    Tomorrow I'm going to call OU and ask more information about the help provided and double check the units have assessments not exams, and start the ball rolling. Thanks all for the advice and comments, it really helps to have any discussion, I'm constantly alone at home rarely seeing anyone at all so no one to talk this over with.
    • teddysmum
    • By teddysmum 23rd May 17, 12:35 PM
    • 8,359 Posts
    • 4,970 Thanks
    teddysmum
    Perhaps you could ask about the amount of internet usage, to help you plan, as mobile internet works out expensive.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

1,922Posts Today

6,865Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • RT @LordsEconCom: On Tuesday Martin Lewis, Hannah Morrish & Shakira Martin gave evidence to the Cttee. Read the full transcript here: https?

  • Ta ta for now. Half term's starting, so I'm exchanging my MoneySavingExpert hat for one that says Daddy in big letters. See you in a week.

  • RT @thismorning: Can @MartinSLewis' deals save YOU cash? ???? https://t.co/igbHCwzeiN

  • Follow Martin