BENEFITS EXPERT: Viewing changes to Universal Credit and legacy benefits

Rather than a Q&A this week we are highlighting some recent changes to Universal Credit and legacy benefits that may mean that previously people on legacy benefits weren't able to claim Universal Credit because of the so-called Severe Disability Premium Gateway.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 12:00 am

Client's on certain legacy benefits such as Income Support, Income Based ESA, Income Based Job Seekers and Housing Benefit weren't able to claim Universal Credit if any or all of these benefits included a Severe Disability Premium.

This would be paid if the person got either PIP for daily living (standard or enhanced), DLA (middle rate care or higher rate care) or Attendance Allowance (again any rate), no-one claimed Carer's Allowance for them and they lived alone.

However from 27th January 2021 this protection was removed and anyone can, if they wish, claim Universal Credit instead.

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However anyone considering this should also bear in mind the following.

In order to financially protect these people (as Universal Credit has no equivalent of the SDP) they will be given a transitional element of SDP equivalent to the financial value of the legacy benefit.

However the transitional element won't be uprated annually in line with inflation like other benefits will be so overtime it will become worth less and less. Furthermore the transitional protection is currently only payable for a 12 month period, this may or may not be increased.

Looking forward however it appears that Universal Credit once it has reached a full nationwide roll out and everyone is transferred won't have a SDP equivalent.

There are certain ongoing legal challenges around this matter but obviously we cannot predict the outcome of these case.

Our advice as always is if you currently do get legacy benefits with this additional sum of money then seek advice before starting a UC claim.