Q. I have received a letter from the DWP stating that my pension income was assessed incorrectly when I applied for Income Related Employment and Support Allowance and despite me having received payments for six months, they have decided that I am no longer entitled and they have stopped my award. Is there anything I can do about this?
A. Employment and Support Allowance can be awarded in two ways, the first way is based on the National Insurance Contributions that you have paid over the past few years.
If you are awarded Employment and Support Allowance on this basis then only pensions of more than £85 would actually affect your claim.
If the DWP had incorrectly assessed your pension income then you may have been paid much Employment and Support Allowance in error.
As it was their error then generally they would not expect you to pay back any of the overpaid benefit.
However, if you do receive any letters requesting payment then you could follow the dispute process to challenge this.
If the DWP felt that it was you had caused the error, by giving incorrect details for example, then the overpayment would be recoverable.
It would be wise to review the pension figures that the DWP are now including in their calculations to ensure that they are correct.
If they are correct, then it may be the case that you are not entitled to Employment and Support Allowance and that the termination of your award is correct.
As there are various different benefits that can be paid it would be worth speaking to your local advice agency to see if there is anything else that you would qualify for.
Q. I have been told about a Sure Start Maternity Grant by a friend, but I have don’t get any benefits. Am I able to apply?
A. To qualify for a Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) you must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:
l Income Support
l Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
l Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
l Pension Credit
l Child Tax Credit that includes an individual or disability element
l Working Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
l Universal Credit
Although you may not currently be receiving any of these benefits, you have until your baby is 3 months old to apply for the grant so you may be receiving Tax Credits at the necessary rate by then.
If for some reason your benefits are delayed and you are approaching the three month time limit, then you should submit an application for the grant – which will be refused – but you will then be able to request a review of the decision once your benefits have been processed.