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BattenedHatches

tribunal appeal for missed JSA signing due to funeral

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Hi,

 

I am due to send in my tribunal form and further notes regarding my appeal for a disallowed JSA for attending my uncles funeral on my signing day.

 

I will be fairly brief here with the initial facts as the various points and issues surrounding this are numerous and will certainly bog down my story. So I will add points as and where necessary.

 

First of all, having been refused my appeal from Job Centre Plus I am looking to remedy points made on from my rejection and present my case in the best way for the tribunal adjudicator.

 

The situation as it stands goes like this:

 

-My uncle unexpectedly dies during the night just before the weekend and on the Monday I am informed that his funeral will be on Wednesday, which is my signing day.

 

-I immediately call the Job Centre to inform them and see if there would be any problem if I cannot make my signing time in the late afternoon as I have not been given the schedule of events. I am told to call back once this is known and am told that otherwise I would need to come in as soon as possible afterwards to sign.

 

-I call the following day and inform them that although I know when it starts it may take all day still and that can't be properly foreseen - there are 3 places in which various ceremonies take place. I ask for notes to be taken regarding my call as previous experience with other service providers has shown me that important calls are often never recorded in system notes. (At no time am I told that social security legislation does not consider my uncle to be a close relative and therefore not considered appropriate to attend the funeral of in lieu of signing)

 

-The funeral events take all day which includes eulogies and speeches which I am part of during the time which I would normally sign. As I am a fair distance out from town and the Job Centre and have been driven by relatives I am not able to make it by close of business at the Job Centre. I phone around 4pm to inform them of this; I am told to call back the following day to organise coming in to sign.

 

-I call back the following day, Thursday, and explain my situation and am told that computer systems are down and that I need to call on Tuesday, as it is the long Easter weekend to arrange an appointment to come and do late-signing.

 

-I call on Tuesday explain my situation again and am given the first available slot for late-signing on Wednesday.

 

-I go in and am told that with the late signing I must fill in a form under new regulations to be considered whether I should be allowed to remain on JSA with my reasons given.

 

-some days later I pass by to make a further enquiry and I am informed that my application has been rejected and I must now come off JSA

-I also have to fill in a provisional re-application for JSA using the

rapid reclaim form and another form to claim back the missing 5 days additional JSA (on my insistence)

After some time (a month or so) I receive the official appeal rejection and tribunal forms

 

The sum of it is that the DWP does not consider my uncle a close relative and I have not intimated that he was a close friend (not a term that I am familiar with using for family members as it is always assumed that we are close unless you have a specific issue with one of them, neither is this information mentioned to me at any time when I filled out my appeal at the Job Centre [i also found the person who saw me then to be quite unhelpful when I asked questions]).

It is also stated that had I left the last venue by 1:50pm odd I could have made it to my appointment 1hr 10mins to 1hr 40 mins later taking 3 buses, but there is no indication in my appeal that I was already at that venue at that time.

 

That is the mainstay of the situation, I basically feel I have done what can reasonably be expected of me in the circumstances butI have just the hard nose of the law to answer to.

Am I on a losing wicket here?

I am in formed in the appeal rejection that this situation may effect thing ssuch as Housing Benefit Run-On, which would effect me to some degree especially as I cannot already make my rent (I have applied for discretionary HB and been rejected that too).

 

All helpful advice welcome

thanks

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Well, I'm going to be handing in my tribunal appeal before 2pm to the local Job Centre for forwarding as it is due soon.

 

I guess I probably won't see any replies before then.

My main areas of concern are:

 

How to counteract the unforeseen social security ruling that an uncle is not a close relative (defined in law) and as such can not be considered worthy of attendance to his funeral in place of signing, irrespective of whether I knew or not, or whether I informed the Job Centre and had sought their advice. They also state that I had not given them reason to consider him a 'good friend', which is the other situation which could be considered on the same merit. (personally I do not consider what I call close relatives as 'good friends': any relative in my immediate and extended family that I have not fallen out with are always considered close and I would not describe them as close friends as that is a description which usually precludes relatives; but then I suppose this is not consistent with the bureaucratic concept of the 'nuclear family')

 

The other point is that of their suggesting that I leave the ceremonies that I was directly involved in (give a speech on my uncle during the eulogies) for a 3 bus and 1hr 10 - 1hr40 ride to the Job Centre to sign.

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Hi Battendhatches,

 

In my limited experience, some people who appeal against a decision with the Jobcentre (unless their claims are wholly spurious) can get a favourable outcome. Having said that, the Jobcentre considers a close relative as someone in your immediate family, this usually means, parents, siblings, partners or children. Any other relative or friend is considered outside your immediate family and therefore it wouldnt be deemed "reasonable" for you to be unavailable for the whole day in order to attend his funeral.

 

I think it makes more sense if you look at the Jobcentre as your employer whilst you are claiming. An employer would need to know details of the funeral and make a decision as to if they could spare you for the day....if they refused then you would be expected to attend work unless you could reach a compromise.

 

Whilst you are claiming Jobseekers Allowance you agree that you are available, capable and actively seeking work..if you do not attend for ten minutes every two weeks then your availability is in question. It does seem rather beaurocratic and unfeeling but there has to be guidelines, rules and laws under which the government (and ultimately our) money is paid and to whom and under what circumstances.

 

I understand that despite the rules, your Uncle must have been someone you thought a lot about to have spoken at his funeral and I am sorry for your loss.

 

I am not sure what the outcome of your tribunal will be, but i wish you the best of luck and hope that you get the outcome you need.


Advice given is my opinion only, I am not a legal or financial expert (far from it).

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Hi Battendhatches,

 

In my limited experience, some people who appeal against a decision with the Jobcentre (unless their claims are wholly spurious) can get a favourable outcome. Having said that, the Jobcentre considers a close relative as someone in your immediate family, this usually means, parents, siblings, partners or children. Any other relative or friend is considered outside your immediate family and therefore it wouldnt be deemed "reasonable" for you to be unavailable for the whole day in order to attend his funeral.

 

I think it makes more sense if you look at the Jobcentre as your employer whilst you are claiming. An employer would need to know details of the funeral and make a decision as to if they could spare you for the day....if they refused then you would be expected to attend work unless you could reach a compromise.

 

Whilst you are claiming Jobseekers Allowance you agree that you are available, capable and actively seeking work..if you do not attend for ten minutes every two weeks then your availability is in question. It does seem rather beaurocratic and unfeeling but there has to be guidelines, rules and laws under which the government (and ultimately our) money is paid and to whom and under what circumstances.

 

I understand that despite the rules, your Uncle must have been someone you thought a lot about to have spoken at his funeral and I am sorry for your loss.

 

I am not sure what the outcome of your tribunal will be, but i wish you the best of luck and hope that you get the outcome you need.

 

Thank you for your kind words, and I appreciate the context of what you said. The tribunal appeal form and letter are now already on their way and it took me a good 4 pages to explain myself

The problem is I did just what you mentioned originally; as I was not aware that attending the funeral would be an issue with my signing or not, I called the Job Centre on 2 occasions prior to the event but was not told about the "close" relative rule and only told that I should try on that day and if not I would need to come in as soon as possible to sign.

So I was completely in the dark about it. My case relates the fact that I made every effort to communicate my situation to the Job Centre but couldn't have known that what I was doing was wrong.

Incidentally it seems a bit harsh to rule out anyone but immediate family as a close relative, I mean these are bureaucratic rulings which only seem to uphold the value of the nuclear family, but many other cultures exists in the UK and presumably once upon a time here too where the extended family was equally important. This was an Irish funeral which is very much more involved I suspect.

By the way I am not suggesting that there should be no rules or regulations to govern the administration of social security in this way but they do seem to be coldly applied to the letter of the law. If I had been working for an employer I would hope that they would understand and I am sure that a reasonable agreement would be reached but if no leeway would be considered I would probably question why I would want to be working for such a hard-nosed employer anyway.

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