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Failure to notify of a change of circumstances DLA


SayAnything
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Hi everybody,

 

I'm hoping someone can help me because I'm terrified.

 

I receive DLA. My award ends in Jan 2014. When I was assessed by one of their doctors in March 2012 I was working part time.

 

I started a full time job in November 2012. Not to make excuses, but I was just out of surgery and I had just moved house and broken up with my long term partner all within the same couple of months as starting my job. I thought I phoned to inform the DWP of my change of circumstances. I hadn't. I only realised this about a month ago when I was sorting out some Working Tax Credit stuff and they advised that I hadn't changed my employer. I thought I had done both at the same time.

 

I wrote to the DWP as soon as I realised this, and told them that my circumstances had changed and requested they stop my DLA immediately, and now they are sending out a change of circumstances pack. I just dont want this benefit anymore. I know this amounts to benefit fraud and I am petrified about what is going to happen to me. I will lose my job if I have a criminal record and my doctor has put me on anti depressants and diazepam because I am having panic attacks and have started to think about killing myself because if I lose my job I wont have anything.

 

Nothing has actually happened yet with the DWP, I haven't had an interview under caution or anything but I am so scared that something is going to happen I just dont know what to do. If I have to pay back money I'll pay it back, I just cant have a criminal record or I'll have lost everything I have worked for.

 

Can someone please give me some advice on what to do, I am completely terrified right now.

 

Thank you.

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DLA doesn't depend on your income from work, so the mere fact that you've gone full time doesn't automatically mean you've been overpaid. Nor is it affected by whether or not you have a partner. Has your condition changed? Have your care or mobility needs changed since your last assessment?

 

Don't panic at this stage.

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Thank you so much for replying.

 

My condition hasn't changed. I have a degenerative condition in my back which affects my legs. I told the assessor back in March 2012 that it fluctuates and its in all my forms. I can go weeks of feeling fine and then all of a sudden my back goes and I can't move. I have been going through a period of feeling fine recently and (ironically) I decided that I didn't want to be on DLA because it had been a couple of months since my last bad attack. But now I have to go back to hospital and will need more surgery and I haven't been able to walk properly for about a fortnight.

 

I do think my mobility needs and care needs have generally gone down over the last sort of 4-6 months (gradually, I might add) but like I said I have had another bad turn and when I have surgery again I will be straight back to my worst for at least two months.

 

I just really dont know what to do. I am panicking so badly.

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Thanks for replying. I received high rate mobility and low rate care.

 

With regard to the type of work, I went from one office based job to another office based job. Both employers made adjustments for me and my new employer is really good about my condition (understanding when Im late because of my muscle spasms, giving me extra time to do my work when I've been hitting my painkillers hard).

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If not, you should have nothing to worry about. Just make sure you report any changes that could affect your DLA, both better & worsening.

 

See, this is what my mum and sister said but I am not so sure. They are both of the mind that I still have the same illness with the same issues therefore I am still entitled to my award, but I just cant see it like that (it might be worth pointing out here that I suffer from extreme anxiety and I get really paranoid about things).

 

Actually, with regard to the job thing, I actually told the assessor in March 2012 that my illness was stopping me from getting my current job and I hoped that after my surgery I would be moving into my current job. Dont know if that counts for anything.

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Basically, as Jabba Jones says, the main issue then would be if your new work involved doing something that you'd said you couldn't do when you made your claim or at your last assessment. So, purely as an example, if you said you were severely visually impaired and then started working as a bus driver, that might cause a problem. But probably not simply switching from one job to another.

 

You should keep the DWP informed of any changes, but based on what you've said here, I can't see that you've done anything much wrong.

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See, this is what my mum and sister said but I am not so sure. They are both of the mind that I still have the same illness with the same issues therefore I am still entitled to my award, but I just cant see it like that (it might be worth pointing out here that I suffer from extreme anxiety and I get really paranoid about things).

 

Actually, with regard to the job thing, I actually told the assessor in March 2012 that my illness was stopping me from getting my current job and I hoped that after my surgery I would be moving into my current job. Dont know if that counts for anything.

 

Here are the key points you need to bear in mind:

 

  • DLA is not based on your income
  • You can work any number of hours and still receive DLA
  • It can also be paid alongside other benefits
  • It takes no account of your partner (or lack of partner, or separation)
  • It is based solely on your care and mobility needs
  • So moving from part time to full time work is not necessarily a problem
  • If your new job involves activities that you've told the DWP you can't do, that could be a problem
  • But it doesn't sound like this is the case
  • Keep the DWP informed of changes in your address and any improvement or worsening of your condition

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Thank you so much everyone for replying. I really appreciate it.

 

When my change of circumstances form comes in I want to relinquish the rest of my award any way, because I just cant take this kind of anxiety (although of course this will depend on what the surgeon says to me in a couple of weeks time because one of the surgical options I have has a recovery time of up to one year). But I just wanted to make sure I could do as much damage limitation as possible regarding the current situation. Thank you all again so much.

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Well, we can only work on the basis of what you tell us, but if you have a current DLA award I'd suggest you not cancel it, especially if you may have to claim again in the future. The reason I say this is that you may not be able to claim DLA in the future, as it is being phased out. You would have to claim the new PIP benefit instead, and it has more restrictive conditions. Those who have current DLA awards will be protected for a while, new claimants will not be.

 

Of course you have the right to withdraw your claim, but I strongly advise that you do not. If there has been a problem in the past (and I really can't stress enough, I don't think there is any serious problem) then cancelling your future award won't make this problem go away. Fill in the change of circumstances information honestly and don't do anything hastily or in a panic. Yes, you should have notified your change of circs, but that doesn't make you some sort of criminal fraudster. Most likely outcome is that they'll reassess your DLA, find you're still entitled to it, and that will be the end of the matter.

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The idea that all politicians lie is music to the ears of the most egregious liars.

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Thank you so much everyone for replying. I really appreciate it.

 

When my change of circumstances form comes in I want to relinquish the rest of my award any way, because I just cant take this kind of anxiety (although of course this will depend on what the surgeon says to me in a couple of weeks time because one of the surgical options I have has a recovery time of up to one year). But I just wanted to make sure I could do as much damage limitation as possible regarding the current situation. Thank you all again so much.

 

You have done nothing wrong and are perfectly entitled to DLA. Basically there has been no change except downward as your problem has become worse. I would strongly suggest that you re-think about cancelling a benefit to which you have full entitlement, but ultimately it is your choice.

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Thank you for your encouragement.

 

In my blind panic I forgot that one of my best friends is an advisor at CAB, and I've arranged to speak to her.

 

When the change of circs form comes through I will just make sure to be very thorough with what I can and cant do, and I will also put in all of my resurfaced mental health issues too (as this really exacerbates the amount of pain I'm in).

 

I'll be sure to note the change from PT to FT work. Is it worth mentioning that I thought I had informed them but had a lot going on at the time?

 

Finally, in case I have been overpaid, do they go directly to a criminal prosecution or give you the opportunity to pay the money back by installments first? Going by what everyone has said, it looks like I might not have a problem, but I want to be prepared for anything that might happen.

 

Thanks again everybody, you have been so much help.

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I'll certainly keep you updated.

 

I'm just trying to be prepared. Worrying about "the unknown" causes me to have frequent panic attacks (one of the reasons I received LRC) and I want to try and prepare myself for anything that might happen to me.

 

There's also the chance that they might use my working full time against me. My condition fluctuates, which I know is a bit of a sore point with the DWP. I'm just really concerned that I've done something wrong and I want to make sure I can make it right if I have the chance.

 

Also, I know that there's a chance that they'll say I have been overpaid, even if I dont think my circs have changed and my condition is the same. I know from other people's experience that if you challenge it, it is escalated to a criminal matter. I cant have that happen. I would rather pay back an overpayment that is unfair and unjust than risk a criminal record.

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Thank you for replying. Like I said, I rationally know what everyone is saying about my situation; but the irrational and highly anxious part of me needs to know the potential outcome of every eventuality so I can prepare myself mentally, otherwise I just panic.

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Also, I know that there's a chance that they'll say I have been overpaid, even if I dont think my circs have changed and my condition is the same. I know from other people's experience that if you challenge it, it is escalated to a criminal matter. I cant have that happen. I would rather pay back an overpayment that is unfair and unjust than risk a criminal record.

 

The DWP will not eascalate an overpayment to a criminal charge based purely on an appeal - If they did as a matter of routine, I would have been to court myself. Criminal prosecutions are brought when there is reasonable proof that a fraudulant claim had been made and where the amount claimed is above a certain threshold (Usually above £6,000 I think). Further more, they have to prove intent to defraud - That you have notified a change of circumstances negates any allegation of "intent".

 

Overpayments made as a result of official error can not be reclaimed - As you have notified the DWP of a change in circumstances, they are unlikely to attempt to reclaim the mony paid since that date. They might decide that there was an overpayment prior to your notification, as antone has already said, the DWP could well decide you were entiled to the full amount - They might even decide you are entitled to other benefits.

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Thank you for replying. Like I said, I rationally know what everyone is saying about my situation; but the irrational and highly anxious part of me needs to know the potential outcome of every eventuality so I can prepare myself mentally, otherwise I just panic.

 

Hi SayAnything,

 

I hear what you are saying. We are alike in some ways. If I'm understanding you correctly...you would rather have the piece of mind by coming off DLA and not having to think about it therefore less stress, paranoia and anxiety? These symptoms themselves can be extremely debilitating so you have to weigh up the pros and cons. Write them down if it helps.

 

From what I've read I can't see you have anything to be worrying about unless like the others say...your condition has improved to a much greater degree than was stated on your forms but if you clearly mentioned the fluctuations on your forms then I see no reason to cancel it especially until you are out of hospital because it will just be even more stress for you filling out the new PIP form and attending one of their crazy medicals.

 

Good Luck x

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Also, I know that there's a chance that they'll say I have been overpaid, even if I dont think my circs have changed and my condition is the same. I know from other people's experience that if you challenge it, it is escalated to a criminal matter. I cant have that happen. I would rather pay back an overpayment that is unfair and unjust than risk a criminal record.

 

As Mr P says, it doesn't work like that - the DWP will not escalate to criminal proceedings simply because you appeal. They'd be laughed out of court.

 

The reason many of us are wary of offering "what could possibly happen?" type advice is that once such advice is offered, as a worst-case scenario, then that's all the advisee tends to focus on. This really isn't helpful for you.

 

So, basically, should there be an overpayment of benefit (and there are no grounds, based on what you've told us, to suspect that's the case) then there are two issues to be considered.

 

Firstly, overpayment of benefit. This is a civil (not a criminal) matter and would normally be dealt with by making deductions from your benefit payments, or seeking other civil remedies to ensure repayment. None of this would involve you facing a criminal court or getting a criminal record.

 

Secondly, there is the matter of fraud. That is a criminal offence, but it's not one you can commit by accident. They'd have to show, in a court, that you intentionally or negligently failed to declare a change of circumstances that would have affected your benefits. And if they don't think they could show this beyond a reasonable doubt in a court, they won't bother to pursue the matter at all.

 

These two things are independent - not all overpayments involve fraud. In fact, most overpayments are not fraudulent. So in theory, you could be due to repay an overpayment without any criminal action being taken at all.

 

I stress again that I'm only telling you this because you've asked me to. Nothing in what you've told me so far indicates either fraud or overpayment.

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The idea that all politicians lie is music to the ears of the most egregious liars.

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