Q. I have been on Universal Credit for 3 months now, but I am struggling to pay my rent and the rest of my bills.
I’m not getting any less than before, but I’m not used to being paid monthly. Is there anything I can do?
A. Universal Credit is paid monthly to make it more like a wage to hopefully ease the transition into work, however, this will not suit everyone.
Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) can be set up which could involve your housing element being paid straight to your landlord, payments being made more regularly or payments being split between partners in a joint claim.
The DWP have set up a list of criterion which may indicate that you need an APA including drink or drug problems, learning difficulties, domestic violence or rent arrears.
You should speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser if you think you may need an APA.
Q. I have received a phone call telling me that I have been found fit for work and that my Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be terminated. What should I do?
A. If you disagree with the decision then you should ask the DWP for a Mandatory Reconsideration which is where they look at the decision again, however, you can’t do that until you have received the decision letter.
During the reconsideration you are able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.
If the decision is not changed by the DWP, then you can appeal to the Tribunal Service on an SSCS1 form.
Once you have had the appeal acknowledged by the Tribunal Service you can claim ESA again at the assessment phase rate, which is currently £73.10 per week for single people and £114.85 per week for couples (with increases for people claiming PIP, etc).
The appeals process can be very lengthy, but there is help available.
You should speak to Citizens Advice who may be able to assist or give details or who can help you locally.
Q. I have white finger from working with vibration tools. I have heard that there are benefits available, but I don’t know what to claim.
A. Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) is paid to people with white finger or other “prescribed diseases” which are linked to their employment; there is a list of occupations/tools that qualify.
For some occupations to qualify, you must have worked there for a certain length of time.
For most people to qualify for IIDB they must be considered at least 14% disabled.
Although there are no age limits to an IIDB claim, you must be under a contract of employment when you apply.
You can apply at www.gov.uk or by calling 0345 758 5433.
You may also want to consider looking at the PIP criteria if the disability affects your personal care.