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I have been off work due to long term health problems for over 3 years. Prior to that the only time I claimed benefits was when I was on maternity leave, and then only for a very short time. Despite receiving the highest rate of DLA care and lower mobility, I have been forced to have a 'work focussed' interview and have been given an appointment to see a Disability Employment Advisor, and I am seriously worried that they are trying to force me back in to work and will stop my benefits if I don't co-operate.

I have been trying to get back in to work by myself, but doing something that I can cope with - i.e. limited and very flexible hours, working from home. I am actually in the process of trying to start my own business as an editor and proofreader, but I haven't actually started work yet and am unlikely to make anything other than 'pin' money because of the hours I am able to work, but at least it would make me feel as if I'm doing all I can.

What I am really worried about is that if I even mention the possibility of starting work, DWP will do their usual trick of suspending everything whilst they investigate and then decide I should no longer get incapacity benefits and force me to go and sign on or something.

Does anyone have any experience of dealing with Disability Employment advisors? What do they actually do? Any suggestions as to how to handle this?

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Hello,

 

Firt of all, you really don't need to worry about this, it is nothing sinister at all! DEAs (or, as they are also know, Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisers) are there to offer you the support you want, in the way you want it, to help you look at returning to work.

 

The law requires you to attend an interview with them if JCP so requires you, but they don't have the power to force you to take a job or anything like that. If you dont wish or feel able to seek employment, go and tell them this. You will then have participated in the interview and wont face a benefit reduction penalty.

 

From the sounds of it though, it seems you're looking at gradually taking on your own business - the DEAs can help with this. Are you aware you can claim certian benefits in addition to your DLA if your working (either employed or self-employed):-

 

1. Working Tax Credit (upto about £90 per week on top of wages for a single person with HRCC of DLA)

 

2. Return to Work Credit (£40 per week for 52 weeks as a golden hello; disregarded in the calculation of all other benefits)

 

3. Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit may still be payable (HRCC of DLA entitles you to the Severe Disability Premium)

 

4. Access to Work (costs to help you with your employment, such as special equipment, a personal assistant, costs of taxis if you cant use public transport etc.)

 

5. Job Grants - up to £450 as a one-off payment for getting back to work

 

6. Advisors Fund - extra money awarded by the DEA or IBPA at their discretion to help with extra costs - say if you needed an outfit for an interview

 

7. Travel to Interview - your costs for going to an interview paid in full

 

Is there anything in particular you want to know about regarding DEAs and the above? If so, get in touch with me, I've had the misforune of seeing them several times because of my disabilities, and every time they've helped me get back to work. :-)

 

Dave

Here to help!

 

Good with employment, disability and welfare/benefit questions :rolleyes:

Just ask!

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Hi Dave

Many thanks for your very helpful response, but I have a couple more questions if you can help.

I've had my 'work focussed' interview, over the phone about two weeks ago. I do understand that they are compulsory, and once they stopped insisting that I go to the jobcentre, I didn't mind doing it. I did tell them I cannot and will not ever be able to work full time, and any conventional job is unlikely to provide the sort of flexibility I need - I don't know how I'm going to feel each day until I get up, so I don't know in advance if I will be able to do anything other than sit on the sofa - but they still insisted that I see a DEA although they did agree to come to me. Are they able to insist even though I've done the interview?

What is really worrying me is that I have heard (from a usually reliable source) that the very suggestion that you might be able to work is often enough to get your DLA reviewed and reduced, and I had such a battle to get it in the first place! Is this something you've heard of?

There genuinely is absolutely no chance of me getting a job outside the home unless my employer is prepared for me to not turn up with no notice on a regular basis, nor is there much chance of me being able to earn enough to replace benefits, much as I would love to stop getting what I still feel is 'charity', even though I know I've paid my NI so am entitled. Apart from my fluctuating health, I really shouldn't be out of the house on my own, so who would take me to work? Even getting me to my hospital appointments is a major undertaking meaning that my son has to book a day off work or one of my parents has to come over and take me, and they live 50 miles away.

Getting more positive, if I did try to start a business, would they be able to help with e.g. start up costs? And how would income support cope with an unpredictable income? Would I have to reclaim every week based on how much I'd earned?

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Hi Dave

Many thanks for your very helpful response, but I have a couple more questions if you can help.

 

Not a problem, I always try to do my best :-)

 

I've had my 'work focussed' interview, over the phone about two weeks ago. I do understand that they are compulsory, and once they stopped insisting that I go to the jobcentre, I didn't mind doing it. I did tell them I cannot and will not ever be able to work full time, and any conventional job is unlikely to provide the sort of flexibility I need - I don't know how I'm going to feel each day until I get up, so I don't know in advance if I will be able to do anything other than sit on the sofa - but they still insisted that I see a DEA although they did agree to come to me. Are they able to insist even though I've done the interview?

 

As I've already said, if you don't attend and participate you can face a sanction of your benefits. Them visiting you and you telling them you don't want or intend to look for a job is participating. You telling them to go away because you don't want a job so wont have an interview is not.

 

What is really worrying me is that I have heard (from a usually reliable source) that the very suggestion that you might be able to work is often enough to get your DLA reviewed and reduced, and I had such a battle to get it in the first place! Is this something you've heard of?[/Quote]

 

You are obliged to inform the Disability and Carers Service of any material change in your circumstances. So, you would for example tell them if you started a job doing door to door canvassing if you receive highest rate mobility because you have active and progressive poly-arthritis which makes you virtually unable to walk.

 

The fact that you are returning to work could equally provide further evidence of your mobility and care needs: if, for example, you get to work using a taxi paid for by access to work because you suffer with anxiety in crowded places, and you have a support worker to help you getting to and from work, this demonstrates that you need guidance or supervision outdoors, and that you need help with your bodily functions or to keep you safe during the day.

 

There genuinely is absolutely no chance of me getting a job outside the home unless my employer is prepared for me to not turn up with no notice on a regular basis, [/Quote]

 

There are lots of jobs (either employed or self-employed) you can do from home: proofreading, researching (perhaps for an MP), piano lessons etc.

Not being able to get out of the house isn't the barrier it used to be. :-)

 

nor is there much chance of me being able to earn enough to replace benefits, much as I would love to stop getting what I still feel is 'charity', even though I know I've paid my NI so am entitled. [/Quote]

 

I've been in receipt of DLA since before I left high school, coming up to seven years now. On and off I've also claimed IS and IB when I haven't been able to work. So I haven't paid much NI at all. Don't let it bother you, and don't feel like your taking charity - it certainly doesn't bother me. It is the responsibility of the state and its citizens in a free and compassionate society to support the needy.

 

As for earnings, look at the following two scenarios:

 

Scenario 1 - Don't work

1. You claim DLA HRCC and LRMC, income of approx £92 per week

2. You claim Income Support and IB (and live alone): around £135 per week

3. 100% of rent and council tax paid for (HB & CTB)

 

Income of around £300 per week*

 

Scenario 2 - Do work (16 hours per week or so)

1. DLA as above - approx £92 per week

2. Wages (assuming £6 per hour): £96 per week

3. Tax Credits of around £90 per week

4. around 75-80% of rent and council tax paid for*

 

Income of around £340 per week

 

*assuming rent of £50pw and council tax of £1000pa

 

PLUS, on returning to work you'd also get:

£40 per week for one year (return to work credit)

£250 one-off payment from the Jobcentre

£200 one-off payment from a Job Broker

 

 

Apart from my fluctuating health, I really shouldn't be out of the house on my own, so who would take me to work? Even getting me to my hospital appointments is a major undertaking meaning that my son has to book a day off work or one of my parents has to come over and take me, and they live 50 miles away.[/Quote]

 

The Access to work scheme funds anything end everything you need to work. If you need taxis, they will pay for taxis. If you need an escort in the taxi, they will pay for an escort. If you need a reader because you're visually impaired, they will pay for one. If you need a special chair, or desk, or computer, or computer software, they will pay for it. Absolutely anything you need to get you back at work.

 

Getting more positive, if I did try to start a business, would they be able to help with e.g. start up costs? [/Quote]

 

You can access help through the New Deal Schemes, or you could contact your local Business Link who are very knowledgeable on this type of funding. Bear in mind you can claim Access to Work for the kinds of things talked about above if you are self employed, too. So if you needed special computer equipment to do your self-employed work, you will still get it provided.

 

And how would income support cope with an unpredictable income? Would I have to reclaim every week based on how much I'd earned?

 

Put simply, it wouldn't. Income Support is generally an 'out of work benefit'. You would claim Tax Credits instead (see above). Tax credit awards are paid on the past years earnings, unless there is a specific reason not to. On that basis, for the first year you'd get the full entitlement based on the above figures and working 16 hours per week. If, come next April, you're earning more than expected, your tax credits will drop to accommodate.

 

I hope this helps.

 

David

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Here to help!

 

Good with employment, disability and welfare/benefit questions :rolleyes:

Just ask!

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Just an update in case anyone else is reading this because they are in the same situation.

Thanks to David's excellent advice I wasn't nearly as worried by this interview as I could have been, and it all went really well. If anything the DEA has made things even easier as my GP was getting 'twitchy' about giving more sick notes, but she believes that as I have been on the full rate of Incapacity benefit for over a year, I don't actually need to send in any more sick notes. She also made it clear that I should stay on IB whatever the GP thinks about me going back to work as there is far more help available then. She's getting some more specific information for me and is going to contact me again next week. In particular she is going to look at what might be a reasonable number of hours for me to work - probably a maximum of 10 - and how that will affect my benefits. I am unlikely to be better off financially, but I know I will feel better if I am doing some work.

Thanks again David.

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Just an update in case anyone else is reading this because they are in the same situation.

Thanks to David's excellent advice I wasn't nearly as worried by this interview as I could have been, and it all went really well. If anything the DEA has made things even easier as my GP was getting 'twitchy' about giving more sick notes, but she believes that as I have been on the full rate of Incapacity benefit for over a year, I don't actually need to send in any more sick notes.

 

This is exactly right. For the first six months on IB you submit sick notes, because you are subject to the 'own occupation' test. This is your doctor saying you can't do your normal job. After six months you do the 'personal capability assessment', which looks at your ability to do any job. Because you receive DLA HRCC, you are EXEMPT from the personal capability assessment - so you do not need to submit any evidence of your incapacity whatsoever. In fact, JCP should have written to your doctor some time ago and told him this.

 

She also made it clear that I should stay on IB whatever the GP thinks about me going back to work as there is far more help available then. She's getting some more specific information for me and is going to contact me again next week. In particular she is going to look at what might be a reasonable number of hours for me to work - probably a maximum of 10 - and how that will affect my benefits. I am unlikely to be better off financially, but I know I will feel better if I am doing some work.

Thanks again David.

 

If you are going to be working less than 16 hours per week, this is more than likely going to be what is called Permitted Work. This would mean that you can work up to 16 hours, and earn up to £86.00 per week. Because you are exempt from the PCA, you can do this work for as long as you want. You will continue to receive your Incapacity Benefit at the current rate, but you may have reduced (or even stopped) Income Support.

 

If you are going to do permitted work, I would strongly suggest however that you do work that will not pay you any more than around £20 per week, because the first £20 of earnings are disregarded for Income Support purposes, because you receive a disability premium. Therefore you would receive your current entitlements plus the little extra from work.

 

I'm glad the session went well and I wish you the best of luck.

 

David

Here to help!

 

Good with employment, disability and welfare/benefit questions :rolleyes:

Just ask!

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Thank you, Davjoh, for giving such great advice, and NMW, I am glad that you've managed to get reassurance here, and that it all went well.

 

Small anecdote to make you smile, I hope: when my son got awarded DLA, our Job centre advisor was roght on the ball offering help and assistance if he wanted to try and find work, and not to hesitate to contact her, etc... that was very kind of her, if somewhat premature, as my son was only 7 at the time. :-D

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Small anecdote to make you smile, I hope: when my son got awarded DLA, our Job centre advisor was roght on the ball offering help and assistance if he wanted to try and find work, and not to hesitate to contact her, etc... that was very kind of her, if somewhat premature, as my son was only 7 at the time. :-D

 

Chimney sweep??:D:p

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This is good to hear. Myself and my hubby have both always worked except for when I have been on maternity leave. Last year however, my husband suffered a serious unexpected illness. Basically his work kep him on sick pay for as long as they possibly could, but since May he has been on IB.

we had bought our house only the month before, and due to me being off work on extended maternity leave we were worried sick.

He has been signed off work until at least next June, and although he has forwarded notes etc, he too thinks he will get one of these work related interviews fairly shortly.

Our mortgage protection now runs out on Oct 1st, and we are worried sick that our home will be taken away.

We are currently receiving IB with a carers rate for me looking after him. CT benefit, and CTC for our 3 kids.

As of next month, we will have to try and pay our mortgage out of this money but it will be hard.

 

Of course, I don't think it's nice to find others in the same situation, but at least it makes me think that we're not alone.

Settled at 50%

Clydesdale £155. Should have been £310 charges, plus interest :( Husbands Account.

 

 

SETTLED IN FULL:

MBNA £1230. For Hubby.

Halifax £39.

RBS £342. For Hubby.

Cap One £200.

Abbey:

:D Settled in FULL April 18th 2007. £5179.83 Paid but what a long battle!

:D

COMPENSATION OF £100 ON 14/04/08 FOR CONTINUED HARASSEMENT.

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This is good to hear. Myself and my hubby have both always worked except for when I have been on maternity leave. Last year however, my husband suffered a serious unexpected illness. Basically his work kep him on sick pay for as long as they possibly could, but since May he has been on IB.

we had bought our house only the month before, and due to me being off work on extended maternity leave we were worried sick.

He has been signed off work until at least next June, and although he has forwarded notes etc, he too thinks he will get one of these work related interviews fairly shortly.

Our mortgage protection now runs out on Oct 1st, and we are worried sick that our home will be taken away.

We are currently receiving IB with a carers rate for me looking after him. CT benefit, and CTC for our 3 kids.

As of next month, we will have to try and pay our mortgage out of this money but it will be hard.

 

Of course, I don't think it's nice to find others in the same situation, but at least it makes me think that we're not alone.

 

If you'd like some advice on your benefits situation (I suspect you may have some unclaimed entitlements from the sound of it), can you start a new thread so we don't hijack this one and PM me?

 

Dave

Here to help!

 

Good with employment, disability and welfare/benefit questions :rolleyes:

Just ask!

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