BENEFITS EXPERT: Only option is to lodge appeal

Up to yesterday I was receiving Employment and Support Allowance, having been put in the support group because of the severity of my condition. I had to go to Sunderland to attend a work capability assessment. As a result I was sent a letter telling me I had scored zero points in this test. I have asked the DWP to look at the decision (mandatory reconsideration) on the grounds that I must have someone with me when I go outdoors and on buses. I was told to claim Jobseeker's Allowance but was later advised that it would be illegal for me to sign the declaration for actively seeking work because this was not possible due to my illness. Now they tell me I will get no more money unless an appeal is submitted. What would you advise?

Appeal against decision
Appeal against decision

I think the only option open to you is to lodge an appeal. You should accompany your appeal submission with a statement provided by someone who can verify what sort of help you need when moving about out of doors. This should be someone who regularly goes out with you, and without whom you could not get about safely and who can verify how far you are able to travel without assistance.

I would recommend you obtain the help of an advice organisation, such as the Sunderland West Advice Project, Thorney Close Action and Enterprise Centre, Pallion, Sunderland, telephone 0191 514 2930.

I am a single man aged 62. I have no savings and my only income is my pit pension of £94.95 and no other assets. The Council say I must pay £23 a month but I have no way of knowing if this is correct. Can you help?

Because of the rising pension ages of men and women, you will not be due your State Pension until 2019 or 2020. You will not be eligible for Pension Credit until sometime after 2017.


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If you have been unemployed for more than six months you will presumably have exhausted your six months entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance based on contributions. As your income is over £73.10 a week you would not be entitled to benefit based on low income unless you had a severe health problem.

Your income looks to be too high for you to get Council Tax Benefit, but if you pay rent you would probably be due some Housing Benefit.

My partner is 63 in July. When will she qualify for her State Pension? I have just been awarded mine. Will my pension affect hers?

Her pension will be due in July 2017. As she reaches pension age after 6 April 2016, it will be based on her National Insurance only.