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TOPIC: Savings re ESA

Savings re ESA 1 month 4 days ago #238869

Hi,

I've tried searching for postings I made on this subject last year, but can't find them.

I'm on ESA - both income related and contributory because I'm in the support group - and I sent bank statements of both current and savings accounts to the relevant people in July last year to inform them that my savings had been accumulating. It took months and lots of me chasing for them for them to update my payments, but I failed to notice that they'd misread my savings account total until just now when I've received a request for updated statements (as I was told last year would happen). I actually vaguely remember me even challenging the letter when it arose because I thought they might have got it wrong - they'll have a record of this. I really struggle to keep on top of my finances due to brain fog and my current account has also been accumulating a bit because I have not been well enough to locate and pay for a PA to help me with mobility, which I need to go anywhere (instead, I've been using a volunteer scheme as a temporary measure and rarely going anywhere other than health-related appointments). My PIP assessment actually gave me points for being unable to manage complicated financial issues (or whatever the wording for this) due to this brain fog and I haven't identified anyone to help me with this, so generally just been checking I've still got money in my account, paying things by DD or standing order (because I forget otherwise) and otherwise hoping for the best.. (I am on high rate PIP for both daily living and mobility) The letter I received yesterday, which I've just been trying to deal with, said it thinks I have a current account income of £4040.62 and savings of £5850.14, whereas the bank statement I sent last year said my savings was £8213.13, which it still is - the savings account bank statement is confusingly written, so I can see where they got their sum from, even though it is wrong. My current account is currently around £5800 (increased for reasons explained above). Is there anything I should be doing other than ringing them and explaining the situation - asking them to look at their notes including scanned statements they already have, then sending in updated documents and covering letter. I also contacted the council re housing benefit last year informing them of changes - both re my savings and ESA conclusion, but I'm guessing they've just gone along with the job centre's conclusions. I am still on full housing benefit, which, at the time I thought might be wrong, and now I'm more worried, despite having tried so hard to make sure that I have been doing everything right in terms of my finances.. I really don't care about paying money back- I have the money in my account and any savings don't feel like my money anyway because I am not working and am totally dependent on the government for income - but I am really stressed by assessments, paperwork and any accusations that I'm trying to get money that I don't deserve. I just struggle to manage my finances - as per assessment by PIP. I am also concerned that any sign of accumulating savings might be interpreted as an indication that I don't need my PIP money, which is not the case. This is the draft accompanying statement I wrote to accompany savings print out, before I realised that they had my savings amount wrong 'My account savings have increased since you last saw my bank statements because I have not yet been able to employ a paid PA (with my PIP money) to help me with my mobility difficulties, which is what I need. I have been temporarily using a volunteer community transport service (which includes assistance to walk to/from vehicle) from a local organized scheme for health-related appointments, and rarely leaving my flat otherwise. I still need the support I was assessed for.' Does this bit sound ok? I realise now that I will also have to mention in my letter the fact that they got my savings wrong in their assessment last year - despite my multiple phone calls to the department chasing up why they were taking so long to look at my bank statements and alter my payments appropriately and asking them to do so, and - possibly - one phone call after their letter to me trying to check that their sums were correct. It is only brain fog that has caused the problem on my part, coupled by their incompetency, rather than me deliberately trying to exploit the system. I feel guilty enough about receiving benefits and not working as it is - I would much much rather be well and working.
Apologies for the rambling email. The whole thing - on top of waiting to find out about my ESA reassessment (ESA 50 paperwork sent in 12 weeks ago but no news about assessment yet) - is really stressing me out, exacerbating my physical health problems and reducing my ability to manage them.
Actually, the more I think about what happened last year, I'm more convinced I did challenge the letter last year re their conclusions about how much to deduct (as best as I could with brain fog) because I remember checking multiple times on the phone that I definitely don't have to send in any more statements until they asked for them and being told that they'd do so in about a year. I obviously wasn't functional enough to realise how they'd gone wrong.
Any advice about the above most gratefully received. To clarify re savings statement, the statement covers a whole year, the closing balance is/ was clearly £8213.30, but the first entry is dated 1 June and reads £5850.14 but refers to 1 June 2017 , rather than 1 June 2018, which is the date of the statement. In October 2017, I transferred money from my current account (which they also have all my statements for), which increased it to £8213,30. My covering letter to them states that I was enclosing my latest savings account statement as well as current account but I didn't type sums on my covering letter.

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Savings re ESA 1 month 4 days ago #238874

H

By my calculation, you have a total capital of £9890.75 (£4040.62 current and £5850.14 savings) although it could be £12253.92 (£4040.62 current and £8213,30 savings).

The capital limit for Income Related ESA and Housing Benefit is £16,000 but any capital over £6000 will result in a reduction of both benefits.

Have you been notified of any deductions from your ESA(IR) and HB?

If you have not been in communication with your Local Authority then you should contact them immediately.

Gordon

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Savings re ESA 1 month 4 days ago #238877

Hi Gordon,

THis is what I've already emailed the council:

Oct 2017: I am currently in receipt of both full housing benefit and a discount for my council tax, due to being on a low income (I have paid my council tax bill for this year already). To update your records about my income, I am letting you know that I have just been awarded PIP at the enhanced rate for both mobility and daily living components, to be backdated to 8th June of this year. I understand that these payments will not affect my eligibility for Housing Benefit, but may affect the amount I am charged for Council Tax in future.

Letter of proof attached as PDF.

July 2018: As an update on my email to you in July last year (see below), I am writing to let you know that my savings have increased because I often have not been well enough to leave my flat, even with support, and spend my PIP mobility money (payments which included an initial large backdated lump sum). On checking my account just now, I discovered that the total of both my current and savings account is currently approximately £12,380 . I have been on full housing benefit all the time since being awarded PIP, so I am wondering if I owe you any money for either Housing benefit overpayments or Council Tax or both? I forgot about the savings issue when I sent my earlier email. (I will be contacting the DWP this week too because I am wondering also if I am being/ have been overpaid ESA in respect of my accumulating savings.) If I have been overpaid, apologies for the delay in letting you know. My illness means I struggle to keep an understanding of my finances and, in fact, this point is validated by my PIP assessment report! Please let me know what bank statements you need to see of mine. I am happy to repay anything I might have been overpaid, if you let me know.

Their reply: Thank you for your email.



This information has been added to your claim for the attention of an Assessor and if we require any further information from you, we will contact you in due course. In the meantime, please ensure that you notify the DWP of your change in circumstances.



Kind Regards

Oct 2018 (from me) Dear Sir/ Madam,

After writing to the DWP in July, I have finally received a letter from the jobcentreplus advising me of a slight drop in their ESA payments to me. This in respect of my savings increase due to PIP payments. I am attaching the 4 page document for you to update your records with regards to my ongoing Housing Benefit and Council Tax discount claims.

Please let me know if you need any further information from me.

Regards,

Gordon, FYI, ESA people have been deducting on the assumption that I had £9890.75 capital rather than £12253.90. The council only sent me this acknowledgement to my last email containing list of deductions : 'If you are telling us about a change in your circumstances we will ensure that this information is passed to a Benefits Assessor who will be in touch within the next 4 weeks. We will contact you by return email if we need to clarify or request further information.' and didn't get back to me again.

Should they have been deducting anything from Housing benefit from me? I don't understand why they haven't if not, based on the evidence I've already given them.

I am still struggling to understand the ESA letters, but it looks like they are deducting £16 per week. Am I right that the best thing to do is just ring both ESA people and Housing benefit people ASAP and try to speak to people directly? Do you have any other advice?

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Savings re ESA 1 month 4 days ago #238878

H

The deductions for ESA(IR) are £1/week for every £250 in excess of £6000 for Housing benefit it is 63p/week so you are being overpaid for both benefits.

Yes, I would phone both the DWP and your LA but follow up any conversations in writing so there is a paper trail you can refer to if necessary.

If your savings continue to increase then you must contact both organisations every time it increases by £250 or more.

Gordon
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Savings re ESA 1 month 4 days ago #238879

PS to the message I've just sent in reply to yours (including emails sent to LA), my fortnightly ESA payments are currently £356.60.
The sums you quote are 1) the amount the ESA people wrongly thought I had in my accounts last year, despite what I told them (£9090.75) 2) the amounts actually in my accounts from last July when I last wrote to them, which I told them about (£12.253). Since then, my savings have remained the same, but my current account total has increased to around £5839.82 because I haven't been well enough to search for and employ a PA with the relevant bit of my PIP money. I am spending my PIP money on therapies to try to improve my health, including capacity to look for and employ a PA, plus paying for practical help from others. Volunteer driving scheme only charges for petrol, so a lot cheaper than employing PA in order to get around (but not reason I'm using them) and I'm generally not well enough to go to things other than health related appointments. Realise you haven't responded to this bit of my query - are they likely to review my PIP payments earlier because I haven't been spending it all?

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Savings re ESA 1 month 4 days ago #238880

H

No, there is no reason why your PIP would be reassessed, there are lots of reasons why a claimant might not spend it all each month, they may have seasonal costs or they are saving for an expensive item.

Gordon
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