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New Style ESA and Universal Credit

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Hi
I need some advice about how to proceed with claiming benefits. I receive contribution based ESA and DLA and we've been getting working tax credits (him), child tax credits and child benefit. We have one child under 18, the other is 19 and a full time HE student. My husband up to now has been self-employed, but in the last 2 years has earned very little due to serious mental health issues which I'd say are partially diagnosed (as in he's got a letter from a psychiatrist he saw approx 12 months ago proposing what could be going on). He continued to pay his NI contributions during this time. We had some savings which we've been using to cover the massive gap between income and outgoings. We have £5k left and a credit card debt that dwarfs this. My husband struggles to engage with anyone whether in person or on the phone. He is also type 1 diabetic and due to mental health deterioration has been actively avoiding medical appointments so things are serious. I've finally managed to get him to realise we must urgently apply for further benefits NOW . I think he would be entitled to new style ESA and as a household we could apply for universal credit to get help with eg rent. I've used a couple of benefits calculators to get an idea of what we could get which would help get us out of the massive hole we are in currently.
My questions are - if he applies for new style esa, and we also apply for universal credit, it looks as though the ESA could take a long time to come through, in which case, would we get more universal credit whilst he waits for the ESA to come through, so claim for both at the same time? And, whilst lockdown is on, how would get the medical certificate he needs from his GP, have a new claim appointment with the job centre and then the work capability assessment? All these things are difficult for him to contemplate but I've said there's just no other option and I will attend/be with him for phone calls.

Thanks in advance.
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Replies

  • edited 10 July at 3:31PM
    calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    edited 10 July at 3:31PM
    Speak to your GP surgery about getting Fit Note. He will want a Fit Note even if only claiming UC.

    ESA should be processed fairly quickly. ESA is claimed online, there is currently no requirement to attend a JobCentre (although this may change).

    Face to face assessments for the Work Capability Assessment for ESA and UC are currently suspended. 

    If you claim UC your Tax Credits will stop immediately. Your first UC payment will be in one month and a week unless you request an advance but the advance is a loan that reduces your future payments for the next year.

    If your ESA is contribution based ESA (not new style ESA) you can ask DWP to assess your entitlement to income based ESA. You would be sent an ESA3 form to complete and return. This would be instead of claiming UC. However to get help with rent it would have to be UC.

    if you are going to claim UC it may be better to focus on that as there is no overall financial benefit claiming both UC and new style ESA and from what you say about your husband’s health it may be better not to over complicate things. He can still claim new style ESA later if he wants to. It gives Class 1 NI credits rather than Class 3 but for most people this is not hugely significant. It also pays fortnightly rather than monthly which can help with cash flow. However if there is any likelihood that you might come into money in the future that would take you over the £16,000 savings limit for UC then it would be wise for him to claim new style ESA.

    Do you think you really husband might qualify for PIP due to his health conditions? https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/

    What level of DLA do you get? 
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • baconandeggbaconandegg Forumite
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    Thanks for responding :)
    We rent our home. DLA I get middle rate care and higher mobility. My ESA is contributions based - why is considering my entitlement to income based ESA worth considering? I am allowed (and was doing) some permitted work.
    My DLA to PIP transfer (my forms are with the DWP) is on hold due to covid 19.
    I agree re my husband maybe getting PIP. So - what would be better in that case, depending as you say what DLA I get?
  • edited 4 July at 5:07PM
    poppy12345poppy12345 Forumite
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    edited 4 July at 5:07PM
    Claiming the Income related top up as a couple for your ESA wouldn't be possible because you need to claim UC for help with any rent.
    Do be aware that first payment for UC is 5 weeks after you claim. You can ask for an advance payment but this will need to be repaid back from future UC payments.
    Also one other thing to point out. If you're claiming tax credits for any of your children then the rules for UC are different to tax credits. For tax credits it's paid until they reach their 20th birthday if they are still in full time non advanced education. However, for UC it's only paid until 1st Septemeber following their 19th birthday.

  • edited 5 July at 8:47AM
    calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    edited 5 July at 8:47AM
    Thanks for responding :)
    We rent our home. DLA I get middle rate care and higher mobility. My ESA is contributions based - why is considering my entitlement to income based ESA worth considering? I am allowed (and was doing) some permitted work.
    My DLA to PIP transfer (my forms are with the DWP) is on hold due to covid 19.
    I agree re my husband maybe getting PIP. So - what would be better in that case, depending as you say what DLA I get?
    Sorry - I got interrupted while I was still thinking through my reply.

    I initially overlooked that you said in your opening post that you were renting. If you need help with your rent you have no choice but to claim UC, however what is important is the total benefit income. rather than how it is arrived at.

    How much difference do the calculators show between income based ESA and Tax Credits compared to UC? Note that if your husband gets Working Tax Credits but stops work due to illness he can be treated as still working for 28 weeks and therefore maintain entitlement to Working Tax Credits.

    I assume you are in the ESA Support Group which means that if you claim UC you are entitled to receive the LCWRA element from the start of the claim. However it will help the claim process if you are able to provide a Fit Note.

    Because you get mid rate DLA if your husband provides 35 hours/week of care for you he should declare this and will be entitled to the carer element of UC . As a carer he will have no work search or work related activity requirements.

    Even if your husband declares his health conditions and provides a Fit Note to initiate a Work Capability Assessment and is later found to have Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity he will not get the LCWRA element because only one LCWRA element can be included in a UC award and you will already be getting it.

    Your UC claim could therefore comprise the standard couple element, the LCWRA element for you, the carer element for him and the housing element for your rent (plus possibly a child element). Note that the housing element is restricted by the relevant Local Housing Allowance https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/. As poppy has pointed out, any child element in UC may end sooner than Child Tax Credits would.

    Another factor is the permitted work. For ESA all your income Fromm permitted work is ignored. For UC there is no such thing as permitted work. You will have a Work Allowance of £292/month shared between you and your husband. Any earnings above this will result in a 63% deduction from the amount of UC payable.

    You should also claim Council Tax Reduction from your local authority.

    When I posted earlier I was thinking that if your husband could get PIP, given that you have DLA, then on income based ESA you would get two Severe Disability Premiums but that isn’t correct because of your two adult children (assuming they are not both about to leave home). Apologies - I hadn’t finished thinking it all through when I was interrupted!
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • baconandeggbaconandegg Forumite
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    Thanks everyone, this is so helpful.
  • baconandeggbaconandegg Forumite
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    Another question if I may.
    How many class 2 weeks' contributions do you need to pay in the previous 2 years to be able to apply for New Style ESA?
    His self-employed earnings for the past 2 years have been under the income threshold for NI class 2 contributions.
  • edited 10 July at 1:54PM
    calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    edited 10 July at 1:54PM
    Unless there are already some contributions or credits in place you need to pay 50 weeks in each of the years 2017-18 and 2018-19. I think for the year to count for State Pension you need 52 weeks in which case it would make sense to pay 52 weeks. The total cost is a bit over £300.
    If you are paying late the contributions are not treated as paid until six weeks after the date on which they are actually paid which means that the ns-ESA claim cannot start until 6 weeks after the Class 2 contributions are made.
    When paying you need to be clear which years you are paying for. Paying for 2019-20 is not relevant to an ns-ESA claim.

    Bear in mind that if you are going to claim Uc then claiming new style ESA will make no difference to your total income as the new style ESA will simply reduce the UC payable.

    Depending on what his State Pension position is he may think it worth paying voluntary Class 2 anyway in order to buy qualifying years. He can get a State Pension forecast https://www.gov.uk/check-state-pension

    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • baconandeggbaconandegg Forumite
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    So for a new style esa claim the years being paid for need to be 2017 - 18 and 2018 - 19 and paying for 52 weeks x 2 will be approx £300?


  • calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    So for a new style esa claim the years being paid for need to be 2017 - 18 and 2018 - 19 and paying for 52 weeks x 2 will be approx £300? 
    Yes, that’s what I said, a bit over £300.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • baconandeggbaconandegg Forumite
    18 posts
    Eighth Anniversary 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    Also, with the 6 week wait before he can claim new style ESA, can we go ahead now with a universal credit claim (we have too!) and which element of UC can we apply for to cover that 6 week period?
    His hospital consultant is issuing him with a shielding letter as his co-occurring conditions with the diabetes mean he's actually in the clinically extremely vulnerable group (I don't know why he didn't get a letter earlier!). We're waiting for the letter to arrive in the post, and my husband thinks we need to wait for that letter before applying for UC. I think we should just go ahead with the application now - am I right?
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