For Families and Carers : Universal Credit

Universal credit (UC) is a benefit for people of working age who are in or out of work.

It replaces 6 existing benefits listed below and has a single monthly payment which is paid in arrears into your bank.

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

For those already in receipt of the benefits above, there is a transitional protection in place, however if there is a change of your circumstance you may be told that you have to make a new claim for universal credit (called natural migration). The benefits listed are now classed as legacy benefits.

How to start a claim

Universal credit should be claimed online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.

If you are not able to claim this way, you can call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. The line is open from Monday to Friday from 8am – 6pm.

Once you have submitted your claim, you should be given a phone number so you can see someone at the job centre for an interview.

If you are appointee for your son or daughter for PIP/DLA, then there should be no issue with you being the appointee for them for UC. You will then have responsibility for the claim.

At the interview you will be asked for confirmation of your identity and also sign a copy of your claim details. It would be a good idea to take a fit note obtained from your GP as this may trigger having a work capability assessment.

If you already have been claiming ESA and you have been found to have limited capability for work related activity, you will not have to go through another work capability assessment.

If you have a son or daughter who is still in full time non advanced education, you may be told that they cannot claim UC because they are not without parental support. In order to be entitled to UC, you must be found to have limited capability for work but unlike ESA there is no obligation for UC to carry out a work capability assessment (WCA). 

If DWP do not let you make a claim for UC, ask to keep the UC claim on hold until you can claim and instead ask to make a claim for new style ESA. Although your son or daughter will not receive any money, they will receive a class 1 national insurance contribution and will also have a work capability assessment done. Once this assessment has been done, you are then able to make a claim for universal credit as a student because you have limited capability for work as well as being in receipt of PIP/DLA.

Claimant commitment

There are 4 claimant commitment levels. There are other circumstances which fall into the categories. The most likely requirement outcomes of someone with Down’s syndrome are the first and third listed below. You must accept this commitment in order to receive the benefit.

  • No work related requirements-if you are assessed as having limited capability for work related activity. This is the same as being in the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA). If you are placed in this group there are no activities that you have to carry out in order to receive your benefit.
  • work focused interview requirement
  • work focused interview requirement and work preparation requirement – if you are found to have limited capability for work (rather than limited capability for work related activity). This is like being put in the work related activity group of ESA
  • All work-related requirements

The legislation showing the descriptor points is below.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376/schedule/6/made

In order to be assessed as having limited capability for work related activity, and have no work related requirements, you need to score 15 points on any of the activities at 1-7, 11-14 or 17. Please note, this does not stop you if you find a job, it does enable you to keep more of your earnings before your universal credit is affected. This is called a work allowance.

Have a look at the descriptor and write down an example that will illustrate the point.

If you disagree with your decision

If you have any work related requirements in your claimant commitment and you do not agree with them, you can ask DWP for a review. Whilst they are reviewing it you must still abide by the commitments you currently have in order to keep receiving benefit. You can ask for a mandatory reconsideration within a month of the decision letter. If you still disagree with the decision you can then ask for an appeal.

Transitional protection for those on legacy benefit.

For those already in receipt of;

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

There will be transitional protection in place for those moved onto Universal Credit by DWP (called managed migration). This means that if you would get less money under Universal Credit than your current benefits, you could receive a top-up payment so that you are not worse off.

If there is a change of your circumstance, you may be told that you have to make a new claim for universal credit (called natural migration).

From 16 January 2019 the government introduced some protection from natural migration for those receiving the severe disability premium as part of their ESA. This premium was paid, within income related ESA, to people classed as living alone with no-one getting carers allowance for looking after them. These people,(moving from one housing benefit area to another) will not have to make a new claim for universal credit and will remain on their legacy benefit until DWP’s managed migration commences. This managed migration is due to be piloted in July 2019 and in full by November 2020.

If you claim Universal Credit by mistake after 16 Jan 2019 and your legacy benefit stops, you can contact the severe disability premium team universal credit on 0800 181 4049. They should be able to put you back on your legacy benefit.

For information about the benefit and when it is being introduced, go to Universal Credit on GOV.UK. Disability rights also have a fact sheet here.

Please call the benefit adviser if you need help on 0333 1212 300.

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