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  1. Hi Speedfreek, I did read your Rightsnet link. It doesn't apply to me as I get a company Occupational pension which would be taken into account for income purposes and which excludes me from getting any Income-related ESA, or any disability premiums. I looked into it a few years ago and that's the reason why I've not applied for Income-related ESA previously as I would not benefit from it. Whilst in the contribution -based ESA, support group, my Occupational pension is disregarded due to the fact that (1) I was on Incapacity benefit prior to April 2001 and (2) I was in receipt of DLA at the high rate for both Care and Mobility. My Occupational pension would NOT be disregarded if I was on Income-related ESA.
  2. Hi Speedfreek, if you're in the support group for contribution-based (which I am) you are not migrated over onto Income-based after the first year, you can stay on contribution -based indefinitely. I did look into this a while back and discovered that I wouldn't be any better off changing to Income-based ESA. For dx100uk-I wasn't seeing a conspiracy, but if you read any of my previous posts (might take a while !) re them completely messing up my ESA last year because they don't know or understand their own guidelines and rules, and then admitting in the end that they got things wrong and I was right, you would see why I am cautious about ANY dealings with them.
  3. Hi, has anyone else experienced the following ?. I have been on Contribution based ESA (support group) since being transferred over in 2013 from long-term Cont-based Incapacity benefit. I also receive both standard rates of PIP and have an Occupational pension from previous employer (which is disregarded by DWP). I will receive my state pension in 6 mths and my ESA will cease. A few days ago I received a letter from DWP stating that they want to look at my ESA as I may be better off on INCOME-RELATED ESA (I won't be - I was already aware of that fact) and asked me to tick any of the 3 following boxes if i DON'T want them to check my eligibility to Income related to say WHY I would NOT be eligible : 1.You have had a partner and they were or are working over 24 hrs a week. 2.You had or have savings of over £16,000. 3.You had or have a partner who had or has savings of over £16,000 or together you had or have savings over £16,000. What nonsense is this !. I do NOT wish for them to check my eligibility as I ALREADY KNOW I would not be better off on Income-related ESA, I checked that a long time ago. If I was, I would already have asked to be transferred onto it. (Letter said I could also ring them to say why I don't want them to check my eligibility). But my point is, they are only allowing the above 3 reasons for me to tick and none of them apply to me. Then the day after I receive the letter, hadn't had chance to ring them OR reply, someone rang me from DWP, left a message on my answering machine stating that they would ring again later that day, which they did, leaving another message (I wasn't in to hear either) stating that if I haven't got in touch, they will ring me back on October 1st. Why are they so concerned about whether I would be better off and why not give me chance to actually respond ?. I would of course, be saying that no, I do not wish to move from my current ESA as it would not benefit me financially at all. Why mend it if it isn't broken. They really should have some extra tick boxes as the 3 they are allowing obviously will not cover every eventuality for every claimant. I smell a rat. Has anyone else experienced the above and does anyone know the significance of October 1st as I certainly don't ?.
  4. Hi, has anyone on here done permitted work whilst receiving ESA ?. If so, has it caused you any problems relating to your ESA ?. Eg-your ESA has been reduced , even though that shouldn't happen if you contact DWP before you begin any work and the work is 'supervised'. Permitted work seems a contradiction in terms to me. Re the fact that a person is on ESA and other Income is usually taken into account and the ESA reduced accordingly. I've been reading up on it and you can work up to 16 hrs per week and earn up to £125 per week (From April when minimum wage rises to £7.83 per hour).
  5. Hi Mr P. The masses of info I've read on this today states that these lump sum payments will NOT be counted as capital or savings and they will not affect any other means-tested benefits or Housing benefit or Council tax benefit payments. We shall see !.
  6. Ps. Also, DWP have yet again excelled themselves by stating that they will only be back-dating these payments to October 2014, even though the 'mistake 'affected people from 2011 onwards !. So yet again, people will be 'shafted '. Only the DWP could get away with this (that's apart from corrupt MP's who have also gotten away with various underhanded dealings in the past few years).
  7. Has anyone seen the news today re the DWP having underpaid thousands of people on ESA between 2011-2013/?. They are now stating that they will be contacting all of these people and will be paying them the money they should have had. It seems the average amount owed to the majority is around £5,000, but some people could be owed up to £20,000 !. From what I can gather, this underpayment arose because when Incapacity Benefit claimants were transferred onto ESA from 2011, many were mistakenly put onto Contribution-based-based ESA instead of Income-related, which meant that many people who should have received Disability premiums (only available when on Income -related ESA) have not been receiving them. Apparently tbe DWP have been aware of this for up to 5 yrs and not done anything about it. I'm not sure how it has come to light now, but I've been searching online to try to find out. When you are placed on Contribution -based ESA as I was, after 12 mths they are supposed to transfer you onto Income-related ESA and you would then start to receive the Disability Premium/s. This didn't happen so the DWP now owe an estimated amount of £350 million to thousands of people. We need to be on the ball regarding this, as can you imagine the further cock-ups which will probably now happen while DWP are wading through lists of claimants whom they owe this money to and the many who will probably NOT receive any monies owed because, let's face it, DWP have yet again proven that they are incompetent. So why should anyone who now discovers they are owed money trust that the DWP will automatically now pay them this money, plus how long is this all going to take when it involves thousands of claimants ?. If anybody learns any more about this, I'd be grateful If they could post the info here.
  8. MARCH 7TH....SUCCESS AT LAST ! Around 2 wks ago I rang the DWP office to speak to the chap who had 'investigated ' my complaint and he wasn't on duty. I then rang back a few days later and was told he was now off indefinitely so I spoke to another DWP staff member who offered to help (this was at the Birkenhead office). This lady listened to the long, drawn-out story and suggested that SHE now fill out a Mandatory Reconsideration form on my behalf, which I agreed to. She also sent me a copy of the accompanying internal letter she submitted explaining everything to the Decision Maker. Today I received a letter informing me of the decision and stating that I am correct : I am exempt, for the reasons I stated and do not owe the DWP ANY money !. It also states that all the money they have taken from me will be refunded (£327) and my ESA will be raised back up to the original amount I was receiving before this 'mistake ' last July. So this has taken nearly 8 mths to sort out when it should never have happened in the first place, due to total DWP incompetence and a total lack of understanding of their own rules. I also received a phonecall today from the Complaints Review Manager who is arranging a Conciliatory (compensation) payment to me (don't know how much yet) for all the hassle they have put me through. I will also receive a refund for the £19.35 I've spent sending DWP recorded delivery letters. Furthermore, as my complaint reached Tier 2 level, she advised that I can now complain to ICE (Tier 3 complaint) and they will further examine this whole situation and may then decide to compensate me further financially. So my persistence has been worth it, although it's been stressful and not something I wish to go through again ! My advice-if you know you are correct-stick to your guns. Thanks to those who have helped or commented.
  9. Okay, here we go. Following onto my letter to Director General at DWP, who passed my details and my complaint to the 'Complaints and Resolution ' team, I have received by signed for delivery from 3 different DWP offices, separate letters totalling around 300 A4 sheets of info dating back to 2001. On one sheet from one office it states that them taking money back from me re my Occ Pension and ESA is a 'mistake ', it simply has 'mistake' typed into a box in a page from one office. On another page from a different office it states (get this) that I did not inform them in 2013 that I had been transferred from DLA onto PIP ! (are these people for real). So I'M supposed to inform THEM the DWP of being migrated from DLA onto PIP when it's they who sent me the letter instructing me to apply for PIP and then awarded me the PIP !. The point about this is : they now state that they made a mistake and that I DON'T owe ANY money back from 2013 (the £500), that I'm quite correct about this as I was protected by the Transitional Arrangement (which I've been stating since August 2017) so my Occ Pension shouldn't have been taken into account for ESA purposes and my ESA shouldn't have been reduced. But they then sent me a separate letter from Liverpool offce from the Complaints dept stating that because I was migrated from DLA onto PIP in November 2017 (and didn't 'inform' them of it), my transitional protection ended when my DLA ended and I therefore now owe £116 back to them. In other words, they've totally misinterpreted their own rules and the meaning of Transitional Protection. THIS is the Complaints Resolution dept and they do not understand the point of Transitional Protection !. The point being, that I've been pointing out since last August, is that the Transitional Protection is there to PREVENT exactly what they have been trying to do, which is taking my Occ Pension into account and reducing my ESA accordingly. How on earth they can misinterpret this is beyond me, especially when I sent them the relevant sections of their DM guide stating this in black and white !. I also note from the old info they sent me that I am further protected by Transitional Arrangement due to the fact that my Incapacity Benefit began before JAN 2001 (I had thought it began in April 2001). It actually began in April 2000. So I have Transitional Protection on 3 separate counts. : 1) I was in receipt of High rate DLA in both Care and Mobility prior to migration from Incapacity Benefit to ESA. 2). I was already entitled to Incapacity Benefit prior to conversion to ESA. 3). I started on Incapacity Benefit prior to January 2001. Therefore I am exempt on 3 counts from having my Occ Pension taken into account for ESA purposes. How many more times must I make these points before these people 'get it', I am furious and it takes a lot to annoy me. The letter from the Complaints investigation/Resolution dept also states that my recorded delivery letter of August 2017 was never received by the dept I sent it to and they have been unable to find out what happened to the letter (which was signed for !). They also state that the 'person' who made tbe original 'mistake 'in stating that I owed back £500 from 2013 has been 'sent for re-training' and they apologise for the delays and non-responses. Meanwhile stil! making the mistake themselves in this new letter of totally misinterpreting the meaning of 'Transitional Protection '!!.It beggars belief. I received this letter from Complaints Resolution Team today, the letter told me to ring them if I needed to discuss anything. I rang their office at 3.30pm and was told that the person who had investigated and sent me this letter finishes work at 2.30pm and won't be available until Monday. I shall therefore be ringing him Monday to point out that they STILL haven't resolved the issue and even misinterpreted their own rules regarding Transitional Protection and that the whole point of this rule in the first place is to protect people like myself from the very thing they have been attempting to do ! We shall see what his response is. I will also follow up that conversation with another letter outlining the points discussed and his response. If I get no satisfaction, I shall be back to the Director General's office to proceed my complaint further. I will NOT be giving up. I am appalled that after everything, all of my communications with DWP, they have STILL got their facts wrong. It should never even have progressed to this stage as it's quite a straightforward point to clarify if they knew what they were doing in the first place. Update to follow, as and when. I also think that the fact that 3 different offices are all holding different pieces of information is ridiculous and goes some way to explain why the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing and why there is no consistency. PS. Did anyone notice that I mentioned on FEB 2nd that a nice man had rang me from Liverpool office that day and told me he had my SARS request, was dealing with it and to shred any other blank SARS forms sent to me ?. Then the letter I got today from Complaints Resolution states that my AUG letter with the SARS request and Mandatory Reconsideration letter was never received and they can't trace it ?!. So that is a blatant untruth from Complaints Resolution and very convenient for them as an excuse for the 'non-responses' to my letters, until the Director General's office became involved. I'm sure if it wasn't for his involvement, they would have continued to 'not respond '. And the gent who rang on FEB 2nd HAS dealt with the SARS as promised and sent me around 200 sheets of info which I'd requested, so proves that my AUG 'signed for' letter WAS received.
  10. ..continued...but only in the Mobility section ' planning a journey and travelling '. Yes Stu, it's my local Council. Yes Stu, I got the booklet setting out how one qualifies and what proof you need of your identity, proof of your home address and proof of the PIP you receive which shows proof of which sections you got PIP points for. I've also looked at the Council's website re Blue badge criteria. They ARE correct. My original post on this was really to let other people know that the rules are different re PIP and blue badge than when we had DLA and that I think that it's un-nessary red tape ; the proof of PIP during last 12 mths part and having to ring PIP for an up to date letter. This means that 100's if not 1,000's of people across the Country must be having to ring the PIP office as I've had to do. PS. Very unfair discrimination against people with mental health problem re blue badge and obviously why the Government are now doing a u-turn on it. What an absolute farce, the DWP now have to have to reassess all of these people and this will take how long?. It should never have happened in the first place, obviously a cost-cutting exercise from the start !.
  11. Excuse the above, have just realised that people with mental health problems DON'T automatically qualify for the blue badge unless they score 8 points in the 'Travelling and planning a journey ' section, apologies.
  12. Tomtom356. It's my understanding that if one gets the Mobility component for Mental Health, they automatically qualify for a Blue badge simply by receiving the Mobility component. The Blue badge guidelines/rules simply state that if you get the Mobility component of PIP (regardless of whether it's for Mental or Physical) you automatically qualify for a Blue badge. Correction-just checked and you need 8 points in the Mental health side of PIP in order to get the Blue Badge.
  13. This is just a tip for anyone who receives a blue badge because they get tbe Mobility component of PIP. I was on DLA for years up until Nov 2016, when I was transferred to PIP. In the 'old days' with DLA, when you came to renewing your blue badge, you simply completed the application form, enclosed passport photo, ticked the DLA section and sent a photocopy of your DLA award letter (regardless of how old that letter was, as I assume the Blue badge team would check with DWP anyway). I re-applied for my Blue badge to be renewed a few weeks ago. I sent a photo -copy of the most recent document I have from DWP, which is the letter I got in FEB last year informing me of the amount the PIP would increase by from April (annual increase). The reason I did so is because the Blue badge info states that they will only accept proof of PIP from any letter during the LAST 12 months, hence my PIP award letter from NOV 2016 would not suffice. The 'increase ' letter I sent clearly states that I'm on Mobility component and that I'm on it for the next several years and has an end date on it too. To be on Mobility component you have to have scored 10 points in that section. My local Blue badge team rang me to say that they can't accept this letter as 'proof' as it doesn't actually state that I received 10 points. I pointed out that if I hadn't scored 10 points, I wouldn't be receiving the Mobility component in the first place, are they not aware of that fact as they are dealing with this in their job all the time ?. She agreed that this is true but that the only proof they're allowed to accept is a letter dated in the last 12 mths which actually states HOW MANY POINTS I have been awarded and that I need to ring DWP and request that they send me such a letter !. So more damned red tape. I pointed out the fact that when one calls tbe DWP, it can quite often take half an hour queuing simply to speak to them and that even then, they may not actually send you the information for WEEKS which will then delay my Blue badge application and that my badge will probably have expired by then !. This fell on deaf ears. I was told that they (Blue badge teams) all over tbe Country are having to ask 100s of people to do this re the proof !!. Absolute madness. I rang the DWP PIP section and to my surprise, got through within a minute. Spoke to a very helpful man who said he can send me the letter showing my points but with this week's date on and that they are dealing with this request all the time now. Yet MORE time taken up by DWP staff having to do what in my opinion, are un-necessary and avoidable tasks when the previous system worked adequately re Blue badges. Bureaucracy gone mad yet again. WSe will ALL be having to do this every 3 years now when our badges expire.
  14. Feb 2nd, quick update. Since last week, a different DWP office has sent me yet another blank SARS request form to fill in !. (so that's 2 now). Then today, to my surprise, I received a phonecall from a very nice staff member from the Liverpool office. He said he had rang to apologise to me for all of this hassle I've had. He said to shred the 2 SARS forms I'd received as he had tracked down the original one I sent to them in August of 2017 and was dealing with it. He also agreed with me that I AM exempt from my Occ Pension being taken into account for ESA purposes, he said that I probably know the rules better than he does. He also said that the Complaints and Resolution Team are investigating everything now and that they will get to the bottom of it. When I told him about the 'white mail' comment made to me on Jan 8th by a DWP staff member, as the reason for why no-one had dealt with my case or responded to my letters, he said how am I as the customer supposed to know what white mail is (my point exactly) and that he wasn't sure himself, except that he knows it's up!oaded or Xeroxed onto their system and not classed as urgent or needing any quick response !. At least now someone is dealing with my case, but I suspect that's only because the Director General's offices contacted them on my behalf because I complained !. Watch this space, will update as and when I know more.
  15. Virgin Media. Anyone had this problem ?. Been with them for 20 yrs since they were NTL. Was a good package for several years, then each year the cost has risen and risen. We all know they're giving the 'good' deals to their new customers and people like myself are paying more than double for the same services/packages. last June 2017, I rang them to 'haggle ' and try to get a reduction on my monthly bills. I was offered a deal of £6 per month off, for 12 months. Better than nothing I thought. They even sent me a new contract (shock, horror) stating how much it would be each month. Don't think I've had a contract from them for about 15 yrs. sure enough, in July and August the agreed £6 off was honoured. Then end of Aug I received the generic type letter they send to everyone stating that my monthly bill would increase by £3.99 per month from November 2017. Hang on I thought, I'm supposed to have a fixed price agreement until July 2018 ?. At that point I'd only had the agreed 'deal ' for 2 months (4 months by November). I rang them. Got a foreign gent and I explained the above to him. He did a lot of woffling, some of which I couldn't understand and was saying he couldn't do anything about the price rise. BUT I said, I have a contract in front of me from Virgin stating the fixed price I'd been offered. Well then he had to put me on hold to 'consult' with 'someone '. He then came back and said that I WOULD still get my fixed, agreed rate and it would show that on the November bill. November comes and, you've guessed it, they'd increased my bill by £3.99 !. To cut this short, I rang them 3 more times about this over several weeks and had 3 different 'customer services ' (that's a laugh) staff tell me initially in barely deciperable English, that they couldn't 'do anything about it' (no proper explanation why) but then when I stated that they had sent me a contract and that if it was the other way around and I broke MY contract with THEM, they would be penalizing me, so were they going to honour this contract or not ?. They each then had to put me on hold so that they could 'speak to someone ', then came back on the phone and told me that yes, they would honour the contract and that they would start giving me the £6 per month reduction starting again on the December bill (2017) up until July of 2018 (I'd already had July, Aug, Sept, Oct) so was due another 8 mths. Great I think, all sorted. Nooo...not sorted, December bill had the £3.99 rise added and now so has the January bill. How many times do I have to ring this company in order for their incompetent staff to get this right and sort it out !. And I'm not the only one this sort of thing is happening to, judging by the Virgin Media Facebook page which I had a look at some days ago to discover that they are doing similar things to other customers all over the country. There were SO many people posting on there, some were brand new customers who had been offered a package, price agreed on, had the equipment installed, (phone line, Tv box,Broadband) and then they were getting overcharged each month, ringing Virgin, getting incompetent staff saying they'd sort it out, it would be correct on the next bill plus a refund on charges and of course, the customers weren't getting these and were doing same as me, ringing Virgin over and over, but the billing never getting sorted out l. BUT if you attempt to terminate your services with them, they start quoting the terms of the verbal 'contract' you have with them and saying they will charge you for breaking your contract !!! (that's the verbal contract you didn't know existed !) They are unbelievable. I love the Tivo box I have, the phone and broadband are satisfactory, but their 'customer service ' is the worst I've ever come across and I worked in this field and was a trainer some years ago. You simply cannot get any sense out of the and they tell you the same thing over and over and never actually DO the thing you've contacted them for. SO, does anyone know HOW I can get them to adhere to the contract I have with them, short of me contacting the Financial Ombudsman or reporting them to Trading Standards ??. Any help much appreciated. When I first joined Virgin Media (it was NTL then) many years ago, I'd agreed on a package and what it would cost each month. I got the first bill-they'd overcharged me, it was NOT the price I had agreed on, so I rang them. I spent ages on the phone whilst the Customer Service person 'sorted it out'. She agreed the bill was incorrect and would be put right by the next bill and I'd get a refund for the money THEY owed ME. That didn't happen. To cut a long story short, this went on for 4 months, each month I was overcharged and each month I was ringing them to sort it out, felt like it was taking over my life !. Finally on the 5th month it had been sorted, I'd obviously got someone by that time who knew why what they were doing. But one of their staff told me at the time that they (Customer Service staff) don't have access at all to the billing side of things, so they have to email that dept. Each time I had rang, the person who was 'sorting it out' had simply emailed the billing dept and the staff at the billing dept were the ones not sorting it, or not reading the emails !. I don't know if this is still the case now as my problem with billing was several years ago. If you read my current post about VM, you will see that I am having problems with them yet again regarding billing. Their 'customer service ' is terrible, especially if you're trying to sort out a billing problem !.
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