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About Lionheart007

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  1. Help – falsely accused! I have received ESA (contribution based) since 2011. After years of only receiving awards letters that notified of payment rates, I received an Interview Under Caution (IUC) a few months back, which led to me realising that having claimed my pensions early for medical reasons last year, that I should have informed the DWP. I honestly did not know this, because none of the awards letters ever mentioned mention this, the last time I went on the .gov website regarding ESA was back around 2011/2012 when claiming my pensions was the last thing on my mind. Since 2011/12 my health has worsened and I went through a difficult divorce, the reasons why I claimed my pensions early. I went to the IUC and cooperated stating that I honestly did not know I needed to inform them when being on ‘contributions based’ ESA none of my x-wife’s earnings or savings dividends etc were ever taken into account. I expected to have to pay the overpayment back AND “off recording” the DWP Officer said it was very unlikely I would be prosecuted. I paid the overpayment when the letter confirmed how much I owed. HOWEVER, imagine my shock horror when I received a letter last week asking me to pay 50% of the overpayment (with loss of benefits for a month) OR face going to court to be prosecuted and get a criminal record?! – surely this is here to target benefit fraudsters NOT those who have acted in all innocence in a way that most people would understand in the circumstances?. At the moment I cannot afford a solicitor I feel that this is very unfair and am considering going to court and representing myself to clear my name, since I understand that even paying the Administrative Penalty is an admission of guilt I do not agree that I have committed an offence, let alone ‘knowingly’ withheld information without ‘reasonable excuse’. I also now understand that the amounts of money involved are below what the DWP would normally process this way and why they did not go down the civil investigation route I don’t know? (this apparently normally ends with a Civil Penalty of £50 instead of an Administrative penalty of £700+.....). With the stress of all this, on top of worsening health, and still coming to terms post divorce where the main factor was my poor health, any tips information recommendations would be great fully appreciated. THANK YOU.
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