Coventry Law Centre

Welfare benefits advice

“You should all be praised for enabling disabled people to get a better quality of life”

 

Law Centre Client

Case studies

Some examples of people we have helped.

Sanctions

Mr S is a man with learning difficulties who was sanctioned for a month because he had to attend an urgent doctor’s appointment on the day he was due to sign on. He had lost consciousness and had to have blood tests to work out what was wrong. A friend had called the job centre to inform them and was told that he should come into the job centre as soon as he was able to.

Mr S went to the job centre the following day to find that no record had been made of the telephone call. He explained that he had had a doctors appointment. The officer at the job centre completed the form because Mr S could not read or write. The form did not correctly record what had happened, but Mr S did not realise this so signed it without understanding what it said. Mr S was assisted by a friend to appeal against the decision. At the tribunal Mr S gave evidence about his health problems and learning difficulties and the appeal was granted, removing the sanction.

A woman, Miss S, who shares care of her son with her ex-partner was sanctioned for six weeks because she was ten minutes late to sign on. This decision was overturned on appeal.

Refused Disability Allowance

C is an income support claimant with a diagnosis of dementia and had substantial cognitive impairment that affects her memory, motivation and ability to look after herself. The nature of her condition also affected her ability to walk.

C claimed disability living allowance (DLA) but following a medical examination made on behalf of the Department for Works and Pensions the claim was refused.

An appeal was made and the Law Centre became involved. We interviewed C, obtained further medical opinion in support of her appeal, prepared a submission and attended a Tribunal hearing with her.

The appeal was allowed and the outcome was an award of the highest rate of care and higher rate of mobility components backdated to the date of claim. In addition, the rate of DLA award triggered entitlement to an enhanced disability premium and severe disability premium within income support, resulting in arrears of benefit in excess of £11,000.

Rent Arrears Whilst Fleeing to a Women's Refuge

We received a referral from Whitefriars Housing Group because Ms J had mounting rent arrears. She had been a victim of domestic violence and had to leave her property and stay in a woman’s refuge in another city for a year. She had been in rent arrears before she left.

The rent arrears were continuing to increase because Coventry City Council were recovering a housing benefit overpayment that they claimed had accrued during the period she was away. They were making deductions from her housing benefit entitlement. This meant Ms J was liable to pay the shortfall between her housing benefit award and her rent to ensure the rent arrears did not increase further.

At the referral stage, the Rent Officer had arranged for a deduction from Ms J’s Income Support for the existing rent arrears but they were concerned that the arrears would continue to increase if she failed to pay the housing benefit shortfall.

Ms J was resisting their requests for payment because she disputed the housing benefit overpayment but she had been informed that possession proceedings were being considered if the rent arrears continued to increase.

We informed Ms J that she was entitled to receive housing benefit for the 52 week period when she had stayed in the women’s refuge.

After many letters and contact with the domestic violence agencies that assisted Ms J, we gathered sufficient evidence to challenge her liability for the benefit overpayment. We advised her that, in the meantime, she should continue to pay the shortfall to ensure the arrears did not increase further. Ms J was assisted in setting up a direct debit for the shortfall sum.

The overpayment liability was successfully challenged and, following reassessment of her entitlement for the 52 week period, the Coventry Council agreed there was no overpayment. This meant Ms J did not have to pay back the £3,390.00 they alleged that she owed.

Disabled Children

Coventry Law Centre represented Ms L at an appeal for Disability Living Allowance for her children. One child was awarded the high rate care component, the other child was awarded the middle rate care component and the low rate mobility component. She was, therefore, awarded over £138 per week in Disability Living Allowance. She was also awarded arrears of this benefit amounting to over £12,000. In addition we assisted in obtaining Tax Credit with arrears. The extra amount per week was £127.We are now seeking to assist Ms L in obtaining arrears of Tax Credits for both children which we expect to be approximately £7,000 in total.

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