Grants to Voluntary Organisations - Case Studies
- Created: Tuesday, 29 March 2011 09:44
A man came to our outreach in Bolsover who was suffering from a musculo-skeletal condition. The most common symptoms of this condition include slowly progressive muscle weakness, fatigue and a gradual decrease in the size of muscles (muscle atrophy). There is usually pain from joint degeneration and increasing skeletal deformities.
Despite his problems, this man was in the process of being turned down for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for a third time. Our adviser accompanied him to a tribunal hearing but the case was unsuccessful. With our adviser’s help, the man applied for DLA a fourth time – again this went to appeal. This time the appeal was allowed. He was awarded the benefit at high rate mobility and middle rate care, worth £98 per week – and was also given £5,000 of arrears payments. It had taken him five years to obtain this entitlement – he was very grateful for DUWCs’ help and said that he wished that he had found us sooner.
A recent visit to our Bolsover outreach by a disabled woman proved to be a good move in terms of her financial wellbeing. She had been advised by a friend who had used our service previously to seek our help and request a benefits check. She had been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance for some time because her medical conditions prevented her from being able to look after herself without help from others. She had also been in receipt of Income Support for a number of years on the basis that she was incapable of work.
In June 2010, following a review of her Disability Living Allowance (DLA), she was awarded the middle rate of the care component, because her care needs had greatly increased over time; she had been in receipt of the lowest rate for a number of years. She lived alone and her family cared for her on a daily basis, all providing care at different times; but none of them could in fact claim Carer’s Allowance due to earnings levels. Therefore, a severe disability premium should have been added to her Income Support claim from the date she was awarded the middle rate of care of DLA, this was worth an extra £53.65 a week and payable from June 2010.
When we checked her Income Support award it soon became clear that the severe disability premium had not been added to her claim from the start. We quickly contacted the Department for Work and Pensions, and informed them of the error. To their credit they promised to correct the award and add the premium, which they did within a week and a half, paying the woman a substantial amount of arrears. She was so pleased that she had a little extra money to be able to meet the extra costs incurred due to her disabilities.
This case proved that having your entitlements periodically checked can be a good idea.
Our Shirebrook volunteer Gill King has been giving ongoing help and support to an elderly couple living in the town. They asked for help because, after their weekly outgoings, they were living on just £14 per week and were struggling to manage. They had taken out loans with the Provident to meet their living needs. Gill went and reviewed their income. She found that they were entitled to, and not claiming, Pension Credit, Savings Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Attendance Allowance. Gill helped them to make these claims and they are now £497 per week better off. Gill has since referred the man onto TRUST to look into possible industrial sickness claims.
A couple of our more experienced volunteers are taking on the occasional tribunal case. One of the volunteers, Cindy, has a special interest in childrens disablement benefits due to her personal experiences. She took on the case of a seven year old boy who suffers from severe autism. He was in the position of needing to take a bus to school and having to take three carers with him to simply get him on and off the bus and into school as he refuses to wear shoes or walk. Cindy helped his mother to apply for high rate Child Disability Living Allowance but this was initially turned down. She took the case to appeal and obtained a revised decision before the hearing. The boy’s mum will now be able to obtain a mobility car to enable her to drive her son to school and also to take him out on trips – which she was previously unable to do and this was exacerbating his problems.
We were recently visited by a woman who was angry with the way the Child Benefit office here in the UK dealt with an application she made for Child Benefit whilst abroad.
In January 2009 she moved overseas with her young son; her intention being to make the move permanent. She discovered that she could make a claim for the equivalent of Child Benefit, and was issued a form which she needed to send to the Child Benefit office here in the UK for completion. She made the claim in her new country of residence in February 2009, and the form in question needed to reach the relevant department by August 2009.
The Child Benefit office in the UK failed to return the form on time. Their initial response was to send the wrong form back. After being contacted by the woman on more than one occasion they responded by again sending the wrong form. When eventually they did return it, it was late and past the deadline; her claim was closed and she lost out on months of benefit payments.
In January 2010, the woman and her son returned to the UK. She visited us soon after for help filling in a new Child Benefit application. She told us about her problems and how she had lost out on months of benefit. We suggested that she firstly make a complaint and then seek compensation on the basis that there had been maladministration by the UK Child Benefit office in dealing with a straightforward administrative procedure.
We have helped her to draft letters to the Child Benefit office explaining why she believes that she should receive the money that she lost due to their errors. We are making good progress with this case and are presently waiting for a final decision. If this is not favourable, then we will continue by going to the Independent Adjudicator or the Parliamentary Ombudsman via her MP.
Since then... The good news is that recently the woman received a full year’s Child Benefit payments, with the possibility of further monies being paid by the overseas authorities. However, the Child Benefit office did not accept that there had been an official error on their part. They did discover however that the woman is in receipt of a war pension which under regulations entitles her to Child Benefit whilst living abroad in a country with a reciprocal agreement to pay such benefits.
Although we were unable to secure a compensatory payment for the woman due to official error, she is delighted at the outcome and believes that had it not been for our help and guidance she would not have received the entitlement.