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Law Centre client wins Incapacity Benefit appeal

The Law Centre shares its caseload experience through the casework bulletin, Frontline magazine and in the annual report, while protecting the anonymity of clients where appropriate.  Here is a summary of an important recent case.  To read about more cases, visit our casework and publications pages.

Case C17/10-11 (IB)

This was an appeal against a decision that our client had been overpaid Incapacity Benefit because he did some part-time work.  When he had claimed Incapacity Benefit (IB), he had received information about ‘Permitted Work’ rules.  He believed after reading these that he could work up to sixteen hours per week and claim IB.  The leaflets did not make it clear that he had to notify the Department within a strict 42 day time limit.

Commissioner Mullan allowed our client’s appeal against the tribunal decision that more than £4,000 had been overpaid to him.  He directed that another tribunal consider the appeal.  He reviewed the case law on overpayments and made the following comments:

  • a tribunal considering an overpayment appeal will not be bound by the findings of fact of any earlier tribunal which considered a related ‘entitlement’ appeal;
  • the mailshots which were issued by the Department to IB claimants in 2002 regarding permitted work rules are ambiguous;
  • the Department’s template for overpayment submissions does not deal with important case law developments and should be amended to do so;
  • the further tribunal should carry out a further review of the facts and law in order to consider whether the Department gave clear and unambiguous instructions to the person about his duty to disclose the material fact of starting work.
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