Universal credit and disabled students

Discussion in 'benefits and housing' started by scifisam, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. scifisam

    scifisam feck! arse! girls! drink!

    Particularly disabled students.

    This is not for me, but my daughter. She signed on in late May after her course ended, intending to go back to study of some sort in the autumn. She's now on that course and we can't get a straight answer about whether she's still entitled to anything or not. I know her student loan - or her theoretic student loan anyway (she hasn't taken the full amount but I know they will calculate it on the basis that she could have done) will be counted as income, but I can't work out if that means her signing off altogether.

    She has autism and although she has actually been trying to find part-time work there's no way she could actually do any and manage her courseload because she finds it so hard to manage that as it is, and that's due to her autism. Also most of the kind of jobs she could get are the kind she would definitely not be able to do - shop work, bar work etc. Her processing speed is in the learning disabled range according to a cognitive test performed as part of an assessment she had for ADD, which she has as well as autism.

    She's done quite a lot of volunteering to try to build up her CV and so far that's counted as jobseeking activity as well as more obvious stuff.

    The jobcentre advisors have actually been strangely nice to her but perhaps that's because she's both obviously (when you meet her and on paper - I have to go to jobcentre appointments with her because she gets confused by their questions and they end up having to ask me for the answers if I'm not there; sometimes they do her appt upstairs so I have to wait downstairs for her in my wheelchair and then they come and talk to me) not fully capable of work and also because she has been doing stuff. But they seem to genuinely not know what she's entitled to.

    She's been notifying them of her classes and has asked repeatedly via the universal credit online thing what she should do about studying so it's all on record and there should be no suggestion she's attempting to commit fraud. She hasn't spent the money for the last month (since she started her course - university) in case they ask for it back. She could sign off altogether but it seems daft to do that when she might be eligible for a small amount of money and nobody at the jobcentre has told to her to sign off anyway. I'm also concerned that signing off now might affect future claims. It might be worth it just for the NI contributions part of UC.

    She doesn't have a sick note but could get one if she ever gets an appt with the GP (it's really difficult to get one). However I really don't think she'd be eligible for the support group, so her money over the summer would been at the same rate anyway, and I thought she'd be off universal credit now so didn't bother to argue for the sick note before.

    She's 19. She doesn't have to pay rent because she lives with me - otherwise housing benefit gets included with UC and that might be the source of some confusion on the part of the jobcentre. She gets middle rate care DLA and lower rate mobility. I think she would have been able to claim some ESA as a student before UC credit came in.

    Can anyone help? I have asked the CAB but they just didn't know.
  2. Threshers_Flail

    Threshers_Flail Well-Known Member

    I don't have any answers I'm afraid but have you tried speaking to the university? Or the students union? They'll have financial assistance teams who should be able to help out.

    Forgot to add, best of luck!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
    scifisam and crossthebreeze like this.
  3. Wookey

    Wookey Playful as a pussy cat

    My understanding is that you don't sign off from UC, it's a continual claim for six months after your last reported change in circumstances, which I'm guessing would have been when her last course finished. They should automatically follow her income and adjust her UC payments accordingly... Although how that works for student loans I don't know, or indeed what the UC payment would be for disabled students, but be wary of the sign on /sign off thing as that's the old system.
    scifisam and alcopop like this.
  4. Wookey

    Wookey Playful as a pussy cat

    This sounds like a complex claim and you need expert advice, CAB should have the answers but they'll readily admit the system is still in flux and they can't be sure of the effects of the changes... I would revisit that option.
    crossthebreeze likes this.
  5. crossthebreeze

    crossthebreeze Well-Known Member

    This is what NUS say (and they link to a factsheet by CPAG that describes the situation in Scotland and say is very similar in England and Wales). The factsheet (if it does apply to England - I wouldn't rely on that though) says that in order to continue getting UC if she's classed as a full time student she needs to both get DLA or PIP and be classed as having limited capability for work. If she's classed as studying part time then she should still be able to claim without being classed as such.

    This lists the student income she has to report, and it sounds like she's doing all she can to report her studying. So long as she's reported all changes she shouldn't be asked to repay any benefits. What is her claimant commitment like - Is she able to do everything they want her to do as well as studying? Basically it sounds like Jobcentre+/DWP don't know what to do with the situation (probably the guidelines haven't been written and there's no case law yet) and so the advice agencies won't know either.
    scifisam likes this.
  6. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat lumpen proletaricat

    My knowledge of universal clusterfuck is pretty damn limited, so can't offer any direct answers but -

    With CAB, you tend to get a generalist adviser on the 'front desk' but you generally need to make an appointment if you need to talk to a specialist e.g. on benefits.

    As Threshers_Flail says, the college and / or students union ought to have some form of advice service, either on the disabilities front or the benefits front. whether one is fully aware of the complications on benefits for disabled students, i wouldn't like to say.

    And are you in touch with any organisation that's there to support people with autism? such groups are often able to offer advice on benefits - and how to explain particular disabilities / conditions to the DWP's benefit denial officers.

    Not sure how much value is placed on GP sick notes rather than the DWP's own assessment thing.

    Best of luck.
    scifisam and Wookey like this.
  7. Wookey

    Wookey Playful as a pussy cat

    Yup, and even if the specialists don't know, there are super-specialists who they can call.
    crossthebreeze likes this.
  8. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat lumpen proletaricat

    and looks like NUS has a national welfare rights officer - may be worth trying them if local NUS aren't sure. there can be a tendency on the part of new-ish union reps to try and deal with everything that comes their way, but slightly more experienced reps won't be afraid of saying something along the lines of "i'm not sure - let me get on to branch / regional office and get back to you"
    Wookey likes this.
  9. scifisam

    scifisam feck! arse! girls! drink!

    TY! It doesn't actually say whether she's eligible for universal credit though - it says she may be eligible, but that's it. The rest of the guide is about ESA etc. Her claimant commitment would be fine, I think, so that might help.

    Thanks :) The sick note is just what they ask for prior to assessment, same as they do with ESA.

    So far I've contacted the NAS and the student financial welfare service at her uni. NAS just didn't know (they know about ESA but not UC) and the student financial service have asked her to come in because it's a complex situation. I did already ask the special needs (wellness) dept about it - she's met with them and has an individual plan and stuff - but they don't really deal with benefits. Every single one of the financial welfare drop in sessions clashes with her classes! They could do an appt tomorrow but that would clash with a different appt that she really can't rechedule. I'll have to get her to ask them if she can have an appointment at another time.
  10. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat lumpen proletaricat


Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice