Q. I was claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) until I failed a medical assessment.
I am appealing the decision and thought I could temporarily claim Jobseekers’ Allowance pending the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration.
But I have been told this is no longer possible and I can only claim Universal Credit.
I also have rent to pay and my Housing Benefit has stopped.
I don’t really wish to claim Universal Credit, as people have advised me it has caused them problems.
I do have income, as I also get Personal Independence Payments.
Is there an alternative to Universal Credit?
A. There is an alternative to claiming Universal Credit in this situation, although it may not be a solution for everyone.
Your Housing Benefit claim will have been suspended due to your ESA stopping, as the local authority does not know what your current financial situation is, they just know that you are no longer claiming ESA.
You can provide evidence of your income to the local authority to have the Housing Benefit restarted.
You can either provide a bank statement or complete a nil income statement for the local authority to confirm that you do not have money from anywhere else (your PIP is ignored as income for Housing Benefit).
Your Housing Benefit will then continue as normal.
After the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration (which is likely to remain unchanged) you can then appeal to a tribunal (within one month of the mandatory reconsideration decision), and then ask the DWP to reinstate your ESA during the appeal period.
Your ESA will only be paid at the basic rate and your Housing Benefit will be paid as before.
The only time you will not be able to do this is if you were ever found fit for work after 2015 and did not challenge the decision or lost at an appeal.
If this applied to you then you can only claim ESA during the appeal period if you have a new medical condition, or if an existing condition has gotten worse.