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housing Benefit and ESA for a couple intending to move in together?

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I need to make this enquiry for my friend, a woman in her mid-50s with multiple sclerosis who is hoping to set up home with her partner who is himself able and in work. My friend was a teacher and has tried to get back into teaching only to find that both the illness and the post-Gove era are thwarting her attempts. Her last week of classes made her symptoms unmanageable and she withdrew from the post with some pretty abusive-sounding treatment from the headmistress.

 

My friend currently gets contribution-based ESA of about £70, though a letter she got this week says it will go down to £60 next January. She has just over £6000 savings and there seems to be a new hurdle of this amount affecting entitlement?

 

She gets housing benefit covering about 4/5ths of her rent and is topping that up to of the dwindling savings. A spate of sad incidents has complicated things, like the death of my friend's mother and then her partner's surviving parent had a fall which has become a life-changing injury bringing forward the issue of her care.

 

We've talked about how the chips are stacked against them but we don't know the facts about benefits entitlement. My friend is making a fresh ESA claim having mystifyingly lost a fight at tribunal despite an inch thick pile of medical papers and what must have been the utter obviousness of her physical and emotional/mental struggle to the tribunal officials. It seems very sad that this couple, who met a year ago, might have quite a challenge ahead. Despite knowing where the government have taken things we find it hard to believe they could be prevented from having a relationship and living arrangement many can take for granted.

 

My friend still feels she wants to work, though friends and even some DWP staff have expressed the view that she shouldn't be, and she really does seem like pride and being currently stuck on £70 a week is causing her to be run into the ground in her attempts to work in schools. (It seems to me that if she was in the Support Group she could do some less stressful tutoring such as she has done, and manage on a small income and ESA.) I am on more ESA and in the Support Grup myself, short-term, and though I'm unwell and struggling have less to contend with than my friend. It's pretty unfair and random-seeming.

 

I don't mind processing some links and so on myself for my friend, who due to the MS can get overwhelmed with piles of information, but equally some summaries of rights and options would be great for me to pass on to my friend.

 

Many thanks in advance for any assistance.

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HI Id

 

Try turn2us - https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Find-Benefits-Grants

The benefit calculator maybe of some use to determine what they are entitled to.


 

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Can someone also tell me about this £6000 limit thingy? For example if someone won £7,000 or even £20,000 compensation in a legal claim, or inherited £7,000 or £20,000, would that mess up benefit entitlements or is there some exemption for money like this depending on its source? (Similar to how someone isn't penalised for having a whole paid-up house...)

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Do they not assess any equity in the house as assets? TB

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Do they not assess any equity in the house as assets? TB

 

No, not if the house is your sole or primary residence. If you have a second house then its value will be counted as capital regardless of any amount outstanding on a mortgage, but your main home is fully disregarded.


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Can someone also tell me about this £6000 limit thingy? For example if someone won £7,000 or even £20,000 compensation in a legal claim, or inherited £7,000 or £20,000, would that mess up benefit entitlements or is there some exemption for money like this depending on its source? (Similar to how someone isn't penalised for having a whole paid-up house...)

 

If the money is an inheritance or (for example) a lottery win then it will be fully taken into account and your entitlement to income based benefits will be affected. There are special rules for certain other types of capital that are a bit too complex to go into unless we know the specific details. I think, off the top of my head, that compensation payments count as income rather than capital, but don't quote me on that.

 

So I think what has happened is that your friend is (or was) in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA. For people in that group, contribution based ESA© is limited to 365 days. Capital does not affect ESA©, but once the 365 days are up she would need to be considered for income based ESA(IR). It looks like she would have some entitlement but that it would be reduced by an amount because of her capital. Of course, this is all somewhat theoretical if she has been found fit for work by the tribunal. If she were found not fit for work and placed in the Support Group then the 365 day limit would not apply.

 

This matters because if her partner has income of his own then it would be taken into account if she were to claim ESA(IR) but would be ignored for ESA©. I hope that makes a degree of sense. My feeling is that we'd need to have some idea what her partner earns to really understand the situation and advise.


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