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Do sanctions continue after winning a WCA on universal credit?

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Hello there,

Hopefully someone can help with this.

 

My understanding is that under the old system, if you had sanctions on JSA but then won ESA the sanctions you had on JSA would not effect the ESA payments.

 

I'm on Universal Credit however, and it's just recently occurred to me that the UC basic payment is the same benefit whether you are fit for work or are found to have limited capability. So any sanctions from before a successful WCA would be the same as after. Is this correct?

 

My story is a bit long winded. I started UC back in late 2015 but was suffering with depression, so I did the whole fit note thing and had a WCA in 2016 but was found fit for work as I had been trying anti-depressents which had given me a boost which coincided with the WCA. It didn't last much longer and I got worse, started getting sanctions for not meeting commitment. I eventually managed to persuade someone, somewhere that my condition was worse so should get a new WCA. I also managed to overturn some sanctions after this by providing fit notes and saying I had a new WCA on the way.

 

However, as I still wasn't meeting the commitment they kept asking why I'd not met it and I said the same thing as before, that I was sending fit notes and waiting for the new WCA. I assumed that would be fine, as the sanctions had been overturned before because of this, but then one day I got about 7 letters through the door at once all saying I was being sanctioned for 91 days each, so about two years total.

 

I thought it must be a mistake, so I was quite confident with the reconsideration request, but the decision maker phoned me up and told me the previous overturning of sanctions had not been correct and that the new 2 year sanction would remain. I was pretty defeated by this and clocked up more sanctions to hit the full 3 years because I wasn't managing to meet the commitment.

 

Anyway, I had my new WCA in 2017 but was found fit for work again. I went ahead with the reconsideration and appeal and my tribunal hearing is coming up in a month.

 

I seem to remember that my work coach had said after the first sanctions that a successful WCA would make the sanctions disappear, but now that I'm looking I can't seem to find anything that says that, and the more I think about it and look at the regulations the more I think it isn't correct and that winning at the appeal won't actually make any financial difference as I'm still under the sanctions from before the WCA.

 

Anyone got a definitive answer? Any help much appreciated

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If at the tribunal you are found fit for work, the sanction will continue at 100% of your standard allowance. If you are found to have limited capability for work (LCW), your sanction will be reduced to 40% of your standard allowance so you will receive 60%. If you are found to have limited capability for work and work related activity (LCWRA), your sanction will be lifted and you will receive your full standard allowance.

 

In the meantime you can claim hardship payments but those will be recouped as a reduction in your benefits once the sanction is lifted until the hardship payments are repaid.

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Could the sanctions be overturned? They were given while I was waiting for the WCA outcome

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The sanctions are a separate issue from the WCA tribunal. You would need to follow the same mandatory reconsideration process that you did before to overturn a sanction, and if that is not successful, appeal to a tribunal. There is usually a 13 month limit to make a mandatory reconsideration for a JSA sanction but no limit for a UC sanction.

 

If you do want to challenge the sanctions, I'd suggest contacting a benefits adviser, particularly as it seems the sanctions were some time ago.

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