BENEFITS EXPERT: My new job was too much but can’t reclaim ESA as advised

Q. I have been receiving Employment Support Allowance for about two years and was in the Work Related Activity Group.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th May 2022, 12:00 am
Concerning the advice given when you spoke to the DWP, I would suggest you make a complaint for the poor advice given.
Concerning the advice given when you spoke to the DWP, I would suggest you make a complaint for the poor advice given.

I had an offer of full time employment as I was looking to return to work.

The earnings in this job were high and I was unable to take advantage of the rules relating to therapeutic earnings.

Before accepting the job I inquired with the DWP if I was unable to cope with the demands of the job could I go back onto ESA.

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I was told that provided no more than eight weeks had passed since ending my ESA claim I could submit a rapid reclaim of my ESA.

Unfortunately I was unable to cope with the new job and handed in my notice five weeks into my probationary period.

I then made a reclaim of ESA only to be advised this was only possible if my old ESA entitlement was either contributions based or New Style ESA.

I didn’t realise my ESA claim was income based and now I can only claim Universal Credit. Is this correct and is there any action I can take for the lack of clear information when I made the initial inquiry regarding reclaiming ESA?

A. It is correct that a rapid reclaim for ESA can only be made if the closed claim was either New Style ESA or contribution based ESA.

As it is no longer possible to claim Income Based ESA, your only option would be to claim Universal Credit on the grounds that you have limited capacity to work.

Another consequence of closing your old claim and starting a new claim for UC is you will have to restart the Work Capability Assessment again.

This may mean you will have job seeking commitments until you have been assessed (and these are still delayed as a consequence of lockdown). Your work coach will decide what these will be and may be minimal.

Concerning the advice given when you spoke to the DWP, I would suggest you make a complaint for the poor advice given.

For example, the agent you spoke to should potentially have made more inquiries about your old ESA claim or even checked on DWP systems to confirm this.

In such a situation if your complaint is upheld you may be awarded financial recompense for poor service.