Benefits and residence rules: client helped out of destitution
“My adviser reached 100% goals. I was left on my own for over two months. No one would help me. The Law Centre was able to sort it out.”
Residence rules for social security benefits are difficults to navigate, for advisers and social security staff, and especially for claimants. We recently helped an EEA national who had wrongly claimed ESA because of confusion over the residence rules.
He was unable to work following some incidents where he was assaulted and was advised by a Jobs and Benefits adviser that he should claim ESA on the basis of his injuries and mental health condition following the attacks. His claim was refused and he appealed.
A social security tribunal decided that he had limited capability for work but another tribunal that he did not have the right to reside for ESA purposes. As a result of the first tribunal’s decision, he thought he would be entitled to receive ESA.
He had claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance while his ESA appeal was being dealt with. His claim for JSA was terminated once he produced the successful tribunal decision on limited capability for work and his Housing Benefit was suspended.
In fact he was not entitled to ESA. The decision that he had limited capability for work was nullified by the unsuccessful decision that he did not have the right to reside. He was therefore never awarded ESA and never received an ESA payment.
When he came to the Law Centre for help, he had been without money for a while.
We contacted the Social Security Agency to withdraw his ESA claim and help him make a new JSA claim. This was more complicated than it should have been as ESA did not immediately withdraw the ESA claim, leading to more delays.
Some of the staff at the ESA office did not seem to be aware that EU/EEA nationals need a right to reside for benefit purposes (clearly wrong); other staff believed that if the client did not have a right to reside for ESA purposes then he would not have one for JSA purposes and the claim would not succeed.
We managed to resolve this case and our client now receives JSA, after four months of living in destitution.