Covid-19 - Information for those on benefits from Benefits & Work advice website
Posted by IlonaM
March 25, 01:45PM
For those who may need benefits advice but who haven't come across this site before, Benefits & Work [www.benefitsandwork.co.uk] is a very useful website for those facing applications, assessments & appeals within the benefits system. Although a lot is free there is also a members area with very good guides for a variety of benefits and various fora for advice and experience-sharing. There is currently an offer on individual & advisor membership rates.
- Today there is news regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the benefits system (application, assessment & appeals). Links available on website [www.benefitsandwork.co.uk]:
Like everyone else we are struggling to come to terms with the dramatic changes that have taken place over the last two weeks.
But we have begun creating resources to help members deal with those changes, in the small ways that we can.
This includes a Coronavirus Forum where you can share information and concerns, whether they relate to benefits or not.
We’ve also published a Coronavirus Updates Page to keep track of the many PIP, ESA, UC and DLA changes.
One of those changes is the end of face-to-face assessments for the next six months.
Another is the suspension of all reviews and reassessments, including PIP and ESA, for the next three months. PIP awards that are about to end will be extended.
Plus, there has been a major switch from appeal hearings to paper appeals, for the next six months.
We have already updated our PIP claims guide in the light of these changes.
We’ll update the rest as soon as possible.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATES PAGE
Our Coronavirus Updates page keeps you posted about important changes to PIP, ESA/UC and DLA regulations and procedures that are likely to affect you.
You can also use it to check when our guides are updated to take account of recent changes.
Please check back regularly as the changes are coming thick and fast.
We have opened a Coronavirus Forum for members to pass on information and concerns relating to the current crisis.
We hope that readers who have a paper or telephone assessment or appeal will share details of their experience with us, so that we can pass them on more widely.
But your post doesn’t have to be about benefits. You can post about anything that comes up as we try to get through the coming months.
You might have useful information or links to share.
Or you may have a problem that other members can offer advice about.
Or you may just want to say how tough things are for you, in a place where you know you will be treated with respect and understanding.
Many thanks to our members who have volunteered to be moderators on the new forum
If there is anything else you think would be helpful, please let us know.
FACE-TO-FACE ASSESSMENTS SUSPENDED
The DWP have announced the suspension of all PIP, ESA and UC face-to-face assessments for three months, from Tuesday 17 March.
Anyone who had a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend.
You should be contacted by IAS (Atos), Capita or Maximus to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements.
This may mean your claim will be assessed just on whatever paperwork is available.
In some cases the assessment provider might also carry out a telephone assessment.
This may take the form of supplementary questions where there is not enough information in the paperwork.
We’d be interested to hear from anyone who goes through this process.
MOST APPEALS TO BE PAPER ONLY FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS
Tribunal judges have been given the power to sit alone and to make decisions about PIP, ESA, UC and DLA appeals just on the papers.
Under the new powers, a tribunal judge can make a provisional decision just on the paperwork where they believe a successful outcome for the claimant is highly likely.
Once a provisional decision is made both you and the DWP will be asked if you agree with that decision.
If you both do, it will become a final decision.
If either you or the DWP are not happy, you can still insist that the case goes to a full hearing.
If a full hearing is required, wherever possible it will be done ‘remotely’. This may mean by video link or telephone conferencing.
One concern about this system is that when a provisional decision is made by a judge, some claimants may feel under a great deal of pressure to accept the award, even if it is not as high as they think they should get.
Again, we would like to hear from members going through this process.
PIP AWARDS EXTENDED, BENEFITS REVIEWS AND REASSESSMENTS SUSPENDED
In a welcome move, the DWP have announced that there will be no new reviews or reassessments of benefits for three months from Tuesday 24 March.
Benefits affected include:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Universal Credit (UC)
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Attendance Allowance (AA)
Where an assessment has already taken place for PIP, the decision making process will continue.
Where you already have an assessment scheduled, the assessment provider should contact you to explain whether a paper or telephone assessment will take place.
If your PIP award is due to end, it will be extended.
That’s all the news we have for now, but there’s sure to be more changes. So do check back regularly.
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Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right PIP, UC or ESA decision, whether you’re making a claim or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.
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If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Friday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription.
Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 77846
Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.
Offer ends midnight Friday
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was march 25, 01:46pm by IlonaM.