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      OT APPROVED, 365MC637, FAROOQ, EVRi, 12.07.23 (BRENT) - J v4.pdf
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Benefits being stopped and massive bill


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I'm looking for advice for a lady (let's call her Mandy) I know who was called to an interview under caution which was regarding overpayments of council tax and income support.

 

Mandy, who is in her late 40's has always lived with her parents until her father went into a home with dementia a few years ago, and then her mother until she died last year. Her father also died this year and she has no other immediate family.

 

Mandy has epilepsy which is quite well controlled and Menieres Disease. She had a tough time at school with bullying and left with no qualifications. She had a couple of attempts to go to work but after a couple of weeks each time she couldn't cope, probably because of the MD. She is a real worrier and is physically sick when stressed - and she's had a lot of stress lately.

 

It's been difficult for her to cope since her mother died as she's on her own, and her mother looked after everything to do with bills and finances. She had the foresight to sign their bungalow over to Mandy in the 1980's so she wouldn't need to worry about inheritance tax etc when the time came.

 

With her mum's help Mandy claimed income support as she had no other income and no money of her own. Whether this was right for her is another matter, but that's what she got (although I haven't seen the paperwork to confirm that this is correct).

 

Now comes the problem.

 

In 2008 Mandy's mother's health was declining so it was difficult for her to get out. She opened a joint building society account with Mandy's name on it so that her daughter could go and withdraw money if needed. Neither of them thought of it as anything but the mother's money, but of course the DWP and council see things a bit differently. Even talking to her today Mandy referred to it as her mum's money and she just took it out for her when she told her to.

 

The account has got more in it than Mandy is entitled to if claiming benefits. Mandy is a very genuine and honest person. The morning she gets a bill she rushes to pay it. Won't even leave it until the afternoon. I went to her house today and found she is paying huge phone bills because she doesn't know about different call plans, much less how to change to a better deal. Her gas and electric bills are horrific but she just pays them not realising that there are better deals. She is not financially savvy and certainly not intentionally a benefit cheat. Of course now they are demanding the money back. £28,000 and they're stopping her benefits.

 

I've been doing a bit of research on benefits and think Mandy may have been entitled to other benefits - maybe DLA or ESA. I think she was just claiming the wrong thing and if she'd claimed something like this she wouldn't be in this mess.

 

I've got her call plan changed on her phone and am going to sort out a new supplier for gas and electric for her, but need help with the real problem.

 

Is there anyway that Mandy can demonstrate that she didn't think it was her money in the BS which is why she claimed, or that she was in fact claiming the wrong benefits?

 

Technically I can see she owes the money, but morally it seems wrong for a vulnerable lady to have to cope with this genuine mistake. I doubt her mother realised the implication of the joint account either.

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Hi,

 

Because she claims income support, she can't claim ESA. If her IS is due to disability, she will eventually get switched over to ESA. She can claim DLA if she has care and /or mobility needs which have lasted for 3 months and will last for another 6. The help has to be reasonable - she doesn't need to be getting it.

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Hi,

 

Because she claims income support, she can't claim ESA. If her IS is due to disability, she will eventually get switched over to ESA. She can claim DLA if she has care and /or mobility needs which have lasted for 3 months and will last for another 6. The help has to be reasonable - she doesn't need to be getting it.

 

Thanks for replying Nys.

 

The thing is she shouldn't have been getting IS, and now she has inherited her parents money is over the threshold. She didn't realise any of this.

 

Could she get ESA though? What do you call mobility needs? She can walk ok, although when the MD is bad so is her balance, and she can't travel on public transport. She doesn't have any need for personal care. I don't know much about Menieres apart from what she's told me today and I've read on the internet. I'm not sure about the epilepsy either with her being alone. We had a family member with epilepsy who died when he had a seizure when he was alone and choked to death. Is it safe to be on her own?

 

I'm going to SAR the DWP and the council as she has no paperwork relating to any of this, although they say they'll be writing to her in the next 6 weeks. I'm also thinking of getting her to make a doctors appointment and going with her to see what support and services might be available for her.

 

One other thing she's told me. She went to court in the 80's, was declared disabled and got a green card. I gather these no longer exist and she threw it out, but I wonder if it might help her with a claim.

 

It's hard to know where to start.

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If she's never really worked, she won't meet the conditions for a contribution-based ESA claim (I'm focusing on this aspect as I used to be an ESA processor - it's why I hang around here); and if she has capital over £16,000 she won't be able to claim means-tested ESA even if she would meet the basic condition of limited capability for work. The rules for DLA are very different. I don't know the specifics, but the general principle is that ESA is intended to pay for needs that everyone has (food, bills etc), whereas DLA is intended to pay for needs that a disabled person has because of their disability - care and mobility.

 

So ESA has similar basic entitlement conditions to IS paid because of incapacity to work.

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Thanks for looking in Antone.

 

So are you saying that despite her incapacity to work she wouldn't be eligible for ESA?

 

What about the green card that she used to have? I think I read that meant contributions were paid for her?

 

Or does her capital mean she couldn't get it anyway?

 

As for DLA, she is mobile so does that mean she wouldn't be eligible despite a court agreeing she's disabled?

 

I'm aware that there have been recent changes to a lot of equality law including disability.

 

Does this mean that despite her difficulties, Mandy would be expected to live off her capital until such time as she falls below the threshold?

 

Sorry for all the questions, but I'm trying to get my head round this.

 

She's very lucky that her parents have provided for her, but she could have a long life ahead of her and once that's gone I'm afraid she'd have nothing to fall back on and no way of replacing it. For example her bungalow is quite dated and although my husband helps her with odd jobs he says the roof needs looking at and I think the electrics are quite old and might need replacing. Once that money's gone she could have years with nothing to deal with this kind of essential maintenance. Plus of course there's the small matter of repaying £28k.

 

Shouldn't this have been picked up before? Surely the DWP should have questioned this before now or made sure of Mandy's entitlement. How often would she have re-applied?

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Mobility is about being outside. I get lower mobility because whilst I can walk, I am at risk of putting myself in danger - can't cross roads without help, wander off because I can't follow directions, etc.

 

Thanks again. I think this is something worth taking further. :-)

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"Mandy" would have received the IS as a top up award as she may not have been entitled to receive Incapacity Benefit or the Severe Disablement Benefit when she initially made her claim.

 

Green cards were for people who were registered as disabled but that schemen no longer exiss and is now replaced by DLA and she would have needed t be reviewed for her claim for DLA to the best of my knowledge.

 

If she didn't notify the department of her inheritance when she received it , it would still be picked up but at a later date (which appears is what has happened in her circumstances) through a system which picks up if people have savings, investmente or accounts that are not declared to the DWP when people are receiving means tested benefits.

 

As Nystagmite said as she hasn't worked she will not qualify for Contribution Rate ESA and due to kevel of her inheritance she may not qualify for the means tested bemefits either which include Income Related ESA and the Council Tax Benefits although she will still receive the 25% discount if she lives alone.

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Is there anyway that Mandy can demonstrate that she didn't think it was her money in the BS which is why she claimed, or that she was in fact claiming the wrong benefits?

 

Technically I can see she owes the money, but morally it seems wrong for a vulnerable lady to have to cope with this genuine mistake. I doubt her mother realised the implication of the joint account either.

 

This is incredibly sad....

 

Does DWP know that she has learning difficulties and is disabled. I'd be inclined to point out (at some stage) that the overpayment they're chasing should be offset against all the DLA she ought to have had for all these years for her care needs! It will be a complex argument to put forward though.... having details of the green card would support this argument if you can get hold of any. SAR to the relevant people?

 

In black and white terms, this lady had access to her mum's money and therefore had another "income"..... If the system wasn't so d*,mn complicated, then perhaps her mother and Mandy could have understood what to apply for and when but as we all know, it's not very user-friendly to those with learning difficulties, the elderly, those without much education and some disabled souls; basically the vast majority of who it's out there to "support"!

 

In another black and white term, DWP could go for a charging order on the house.... so if this was me, I'd be looking into damage limitataion for Mandy or in other words, looking for the shades of grey in this very complex and unfair situation. The first step would be to investigate the green card way back when and the reasons why it was issued. Another area which might support her case is the signature (hopefully there is one) on her application for Income Support, which showed that the claim form was completed on Mandy's behalf by her mother..... and also, look into whether the bank have kept records of any reasons given by mum for the joint account between mother and daughter.

 

There are lots of grey areas here that need to be investigated. I have spent the best part of my life fighting grey areas Caro and you will need to be persistent and focussed to get your points across. If not, the law as it stands could strip her of thousands and she will be too vulnerable to fight it.

 

Best of luck with this..... it's not over yet! :-)

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This is so sad and shes being penalised for all the benefit cheats out there. I myself am currently on ESA and am currently going to appeal as I didnt get enough points to qualify even though i have severe mobility issues. The system is set up to stack everything in their favour and to complicate it as much as possible for the claiment. It has been brought up a bit in the media but tends to be dropped quite quickly as the media seems pretty uninterested in the claiments point of view. We have been accused of being workshy scroungers by certain members of parliament which doesnt help peoples view of us. I do have a list of the points and what they are awarded for if you need them then i can try and scan them and email them to you but not sure if my scanner works on the op system im using at the mo but will plug it in later and have a look. if you do want a copy then p.m me with your email and i will try and email them to you. With DLA it doesnt really matter how much she has got but with ESA it def does. You need to get her to the docs ASAP as any medical records will be very helpful as she will need to go to tribunel over this and the sooner you can get the ball rolling the better plus get over to the citizens advice asap and they should be able to put you in contact with someone who can help you with the forms your going to need to send. DO NOT EXPECT ANY HELP AT ALL FROM THE DWP. In their eyes she will just be another scounger they need to get off their book.

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Thank you all so much for the support. I was concerned that because Mandy has money there may not be much sympathy for her problems but she really desperately needs help both now and to secure her future. Although I've known Mandy for a while it's my husband she's turned to for help as she trusts him and knows she can rely on him. He gets calls from her most days. He used to take her and her mother shopping, and still takes her, and if they've needed help with the bungalow he's helped with odd jobs, but he suggested to her that I get involved because he knows I'm better placed to help her with these issues. I'm a bit concerned that what family she has may think we're poking our noses in something that isn't our business, but Mandy is happy that we're helping her, and said she finds it easier to talk to a woman.

 

P1, your thoughts are the same as mine. If she hasn't had what she should have, could that be offset against what she shouldn't have had? I hadn't thought about who may have filled in forms, but it's a fair point and I will be sending a SAR to both DWP and the council. Reading about DLA though I'm less sure that she'll qualify as she is mobile and doesn't need care as such. I've told her that I'll look into it, but she needs to be prepared to have medicals and lots of questions, but we'll be there to help her.

 

Regarding her learning problems, Mandy can read and write but finds it difficult to understand complex issues. She doesn't particularly volunteer information but if asked is quite open. I guess she doesn't necessarily realise the importance of some of the information. I always thought she had learning difficulties but have no proof of this so it's something else I need to establish properly, which is why I want to see her doctor with her to try and get the facts. I'm hoping for his help and support, and maybe get social services to make sure she gets suitable support and proper advice. They're better placed to know what's available and what she might be entitled to.

 

When her mother died a family member was executor of the will, but a solicitor dealt with her father's estate. This seems to have come to light when her father died which makes me wonder about why it didn't come to light when her mother died. I guess it doesn't really matter.

 

Once again thanks for the support. I agree with P1, we'll have a fight but then that's nothing new for us caggers!! :lol:

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Missed your post as I was posting at the same time taxii. I will PM you my email addy as I'm sure that it would help to see the criteria used for awarding points if you can get them to me. Thank you so much. :-)

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Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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Would the fact she needs help with things like sorting finances, taking shopping, transport etc count do you think? It's support she needs as much as anything as she doesn't know how to deal with things - like she'll just pay a massive phone bill. Just changing the call plan will save her about £30 a month, She told me she knew it was expensive but just didn't know how to deal with it. From what I've read about DLA I'm not sure things like that would count. :???:

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Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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Would the fact she needs help with things like sorting finances, taking shopping, transport etc count do you think? It's support she needs as much as anything as she doesn't know how to deal with things - like she'll just pay a massive phone bill. Just changing the call plan will save her about £30 a month, She told me she knew it was expensive but just didn't know how to deal with it. From what I've read about DLA I'm not sure things like that would count. :???:

 

Possibly.... but a lot depends on how the form is filled in and not the severity of her difficulties. This is where a lot of people fall down with DLA.

 

When you consider that children can get it for ADHD (behaviour... which incidentally, I do not agree with whatsoever but that's another story), then it's entirely possible for Mandy to get it for the needs that she has. The line you need to focus on would be her needing another adult around to help; whether she gets that help or not. Before filling in a form, you/she need to look at all of areas of life that they ask about and consider the help she needs with each one and draft out the answers before completing the form. Does the epilepsy present a risk when bathing, cooking a meal for example? Does she need another adult around to help keep her safe..... or to take medication?

 

They will not be interested in the financial side of anything...... only the help that Mandy needs for personal care connected to "bodily functions". From what you say though, it sounds like she could be entitled to support from social services for independent living. I'm not sure who arranges this but a friend of mine is a support worker and the people she goes in to support get a substantial amount paid directly to them.... so I'm assuming it's a social service arrangement.

 

:-)

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This is what I don't understand either P1. As you say kids with ADHD get allowances. and I know people on benefits who apparently can't work - unless it's on the side working under cars, moving furniture around, etc etc, but from what I've read I just don't get how they get it. They obviously know how to work the system to their advantage. This is why I want to get the doctor involved and perhaps SS. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that most people who claim are entirely genuine.

 

Having lost a family member who choked when he had a fit while he was on his own, I think perhaps the epilepsy could well be an area to focus on. I'll get Mandy to make an appointment with the doctor and go with her to have a chat with him about what he thinks she needs. The Menieres is something I'm not familiar with and I don't know how severe it is in Mandy's case and the risks that has too.

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Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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What help with transport does she need? Because if it's can't catch a bus without help, (can't read bus numbers, etc) then she may get it. However, lack of transport isn't going to get someone DLA.

 

Housework is ignored - apart from help with cooking a meal. This test has nothing to do with skills one has - it's things like following a recipe, handling pots and pans safely, knowing whether food is fresh / cooked, etc. It's not based on a microwave meal - it's a meal from scratch.

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Caro - I think from what you have said about this lady that she may need someone to act on her behalf in a more official capacity. Someone can apply to the DWP to be her appointee for the purpose of her benefit administration. An appointee takes over all aspects of a person's claim. They do all the form completion, all the written and telephone correspondance and payment can be made to the appointee also. Anyone can be an appointee - it does not have to be a family member. The DWP will assess whether she requires one and whether the applicant is suitable. If she can manage her own affairs, then she won't need an appointee but may need a representative. A rep can be anyone of her choosing but a rep only covers one piece of business and she will need to write a letter of authority for that person, and she will need to sign any documents or requests - such as a SAR. (they don't charge for SAR's either - I'll attach a DWP SAR form to the bottom of this post too)

 

I would definately recommend an appliation to DLA. The guidebooks are in my benefit A-Z (D)

ESA would not be possible in that she would not be paid the benefit itself because she would not have paid sufficient NI contributions in the qualifying years (which is why she is on income support rather than incapacity benefit) and she is presently over the threshold for income related ESA. She can still apply however and if successful she will get her NI paid - but she wouldn't get any benefit until she fell below the capital limit again. Which may be quite soon if paying off an overpayment. The descriptors for points changed in March and can be located here in schedules 1 and 2. You may also find the ESA guides helpful - in my benefit A-Z (E) . If you pm me your email addy, I'll also send you the ESA Handbook for Medical Services - I can't put it on CAG as it exceeds the upload.

 

Unless the account with her mother was set up for her to administer it on her mother's behalf (set up this way with the building society), it's unlikely they will accept that it was not a joint account in the normal sense. However, if it was only her mothers money that was paid into the account, and none of her own money was paid in there, she may be able to use this angle for argument that the money contained therein was not hers and it was solely set up as a joint account for the purpose of her assisting her mother. It would be even better if you could prove that her mother was unable to manage it herself.

 

If she is going to appeal against this overpayment, she only has one month in which to do it from the date they decided she was overpaid. There is an absolute time limit of 13 months for a late appeal, however if she is over the one month she will need to explain why she was late in submitting her appeal and it would then be up to the tribunal service whether they would accept a late appeal. You can find case law for benefits by searching here .

dwp sar.rtf

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Caro - I think from what you have said about this lady that she may need someone to act on her behalf in a more official capacity. Someone can apply to the DWP to be her appointee for the purpose of her benefit administration. An appointee takes over all aspects of a person's claim. They do all the form completion, all the written and telephone correspondance and payment can be made to the appointee also. Anyone can be an appointee - it does not have to be a family member. The DWP will assess whether she requires one and whether the applicant is suitable. If she can manage her own affairs, then she won't need an appointee but may need a representative.

 

I'll discuss this with her whether she wants it to be me. I don't want to cause problems with the family who have been helping her since her mother's death,

 

A rep can be anyone of her choosing but a rep only covers one piece of business and she will need to write a letter of authority for that person, and she will need to sign any documents or requests - such as a SAR. (they don't charge for SAR's either - I'll attach a DWP SAR form to the bottom of this post too)

 

Thanks for that. I didn't realise they had their own SAR or that there was no charge.

 

I would definately recommend an appliation to DLA. The guidebooks are in my benefit A-Z (D)

 

Thanks. I'll take a look. :-)

 

 

ESA would not be possible in that she would not be paid the benefit itself because she would not have paid sufficient NI contributions in the qualifying years (which is why she is on income support rather than incapacity benefit) and she is presently over the threshold for income related ESA. She can still apply however and if successful she will get her NI paid - but she wouldn't get any benefit until she fell below the capital limit again. Which may be quite soon if paying off an overpayment. The descriptors for points changed in March and can be located here in schedules 1 and 2. You may also find the ESA guides helpful - in my benefit A-Z (E) . If you pm me your email addy, I'll also send you the ESA Handbook for Medical Services - I can't put it on CAG as it exceeds the upload.

 

You should have my email addy now Erika. :-D

 

Unless the account with her mother was set up for her to administer it on her mother's behalf (set up this way with the building society), it's unlikely they will accept that it was not a joint account in the normal sense. However, if it was only her mothers money that was paid into the account, and none of her own money was paid in there, she may be able to use this angle for argument that the money contained therein was not hers and it was solely set up as a joint account for the purpose of her assisting her mother. It would be even better if you could prove that her mother was unable to manage it herself.

 

I know for sure that one payment which is about 95% of the balance was her mother's and I think there's a chance I could prove that. I'll speak to Mandy and try and find out more.

 

If she is going to appeal against this overpayment, she only has one month in which to do it from the date they decided she was overpaid. There is an absolute time limit of 13 months for a late appeal, however if she is over the one month she will need to explain why she was late in submitting her appeal and it would then be up to the tribunal service whether they would accept a late appeal. You can find case law for benefits by searching here .

Her interview was last week and they've said they'll write to her in the next 6 weeks so I think we're ok on time, but I think I've got my work cut out!! :p

This is all way outside my comfort zone so I can't tell you how much your support means. I know Mandy will be grateful too. This has been worrying her so much.

 

 

 

 

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Hi Caro, this is a very sad account and it sounds like Mandy has good friends in you and your husband.

 

Firstly does Mandy have a nominated next of kin? if not I agree with Erica that she should have someone to support and act on her behalf in an official capacity.

 

Menieres Disease is debilitating, from the NHS Choices web site,

 

Ménière's disease is a rare disorder that affects the inner ear. It can cause vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and aural fullness (feeling of pressure in your ear). See Ménière's disease - symptoms for more information about these symptoms.

 

Including Epilepsy, and the medication required to maintain some sort of normal function, I believe that Mandy should be being monitored closely by her GP.

 

Has she grieved for the death of her parents? is she experiencing any sort of depression following their death?

She has spent the best part of her adult life with her parents and is now alone, no wonder she is out of touch with certain things.

She has every right to ask for help from her GP if she feels depressed, and her GP must have some idea about her mental capacity to cope with daily living.

 

Sorry, I'm not clued up on the Benefits side but looks like there is plenty of help being offered here.

Keep up the fight against Bank Charges.

 

 

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Hi Caro, this is a very sad account and it sounds like Mandy has good friends in you and your husband.

 

Firstly does Mandy have a nominated next of kin? if not I agree with Erica that she should have someone to support and act on her behalf in an official capacity.

 

At the moment she doesn't.

 

Menieres Disease is debilitating, from the NHS Choices web site,

 

Ménière's disease is a rare disorder that affects the inner ear. It can cause vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and aural fullness (feeling of pressure in your ear). See Ménière's disease - symptoms for more information about these symptoms.

 

Including Epilepsy, and the medication required to maintain some sort of normal function, I believe that Mandy should be being monitored closely by her GP.

 

Has she grieved for the death of her parents? is she experiencing any sort of depression following their death?

 

I think her father's death has had less impact as his dementia meant he'd not been such a part of her life for a while, but she's really struggled without her mother as she'd been the one who took care of things and made the decisions. Now it's down to Mandy herself and she's certainly found this hard, especially going home to an empty house. It's been hard for her.

 

She has spent the best part of her adult life with her parents and is now alone, no wonder she is out of touch with certain things.

She has every right to ask for help from her GP if she feels depressed, and her GP must have some idea about her mental capacity to cope with daily living.

 

You're right. We need to see him and get his input on this.

 

Sorry, I'm not clued up on the Benefits side but looks like there is plenty of help being offered here.

 

There is but the medical side is also important as it impacts on what benefits she might be entitled to so thanks for looking in. :-)

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Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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Mr C has had a phone call from Mandy to say she's had a letter saying her benefits have been stopped. At his request she has also spoken to her family member who is happy for us to get involved so that's a relief, although I think I may ask for her phone number and check she's genuinely ok with it. I'm going to see Mandy tomorrow to see what the letter says. I'll also take the SAR for her to sign. I'm thinking that maybe I should tick all the boxes as I've no idea what there might be. Does that sound reasonable?

 

I'm thinking I might suggest that I be her representative. I don't think I'd be comfortable with being appointee.

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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Actually I've just printed off the SAR kindly provided by Erika and can see there are some that clearly aren't relevant! :lol:

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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