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UK benefits advice: Universal Credit and limited capability for work

Discussion in 'Work, Finances and Disability Insurance' started by InitialConditions, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Hi all,

    I am looking for advice RE: Universal Credit and limited capability for work.

    A few months ago I started claiming UC. I work freelance and despite suggesting that the maximum I work in a given week was around 10 hours, the option of limited capability for work did not come up, and I am now receiving a standard allowance and expected to work 16 hours a week as self-employed (or have the equivalent income based on the minimum wage).

    I need to move to the limited capability for work group. The UC payments are not enough to live off; when earning more per month the payments reduce so much that they don't even cover my rent.

    I have been pushing myself too much to even get these 10 hours per week in.

    How does this process work from here? I think I need to 'report a change' and then try and book an appointment (assuming I'll need some sort of assessment). Should I be looking to fill in a particular form, or is there nothing I can do until I schedule a meeting to disucss this change?

    I should also ask: can I still work say <10 hours per week while classed as having limited capability for work?

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  2. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Have you tried asking if your local Citizens Advice Bureau has a welfare worker who can help you negotiate your way through the system?
     
  3. adambeyoncelowe

    adambeyoncelowe Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    You're self-employed, so technically you can charge whatever you want, even nothing. Couldn't you add six hours of pro bono work, or virtual volunteering, in somewhere? It seems odd that they specify you should earn a specific amount. (My response would be, 'I'll charge it if you pay it.')

    The other thing to remember is that employees are typically only productive for 60% of the time. In an 8-hour shift, that's just under 5 hours.

    Self-employed people are often required to be more productive than employees, which means we effectively undercut our salaried colleagues.

    So if you're fully productive for 5 hours on two days a week, I'd count that as the same as two 8-hour shifts. That means you're possibly already doing the equivalent hours.

    The alternative is to just up your hourly rate so you hit the equivalent of 16 hours at minimum wage. None of this helps with means-tested UC, of course. That I can't really help with.

    Probably the best place for advice is the Benefits & Work website. They have lots of info. I hope you can figure it out!
     
  4. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thanks Adam. Perhaps I wasn't clear in my original post because I didn't want to go into too much detail. As I have just started to claim UC I am in the self-employed start up year where the minimum income level doesn't count. So it's not so much what I'm expected to work (I could get round that somehow), but more that it's not bringing in enough money because of the amount I can do in a given week. And this is because I'm limited by this illness.

    What's more - the amount I can earn in a 'good' month takes so much off my UC payment that I'm still not earning enough to cover rent and bills, etc.
     
  5. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I may do this. I did talk to someone before starting my claim. I can manage the system pretty well. I'm intelligent and well enough to understand the system. I just wondered if anyone had been in this, or a similar, position.

    I do however regret not making it specifically clear that I could not reliably work 16 hours a week and should have been deemed as having a limited capability from the start.
     
    alktipping, ladycatlover and Trish like this.
  6. adambeyoncelowe

    adambeyoncelowe Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Understood. Thanks.

    The CAB seems the best way to go. Perhaps if you have any evidence to 'prove' your limitations, too, like a report from an OT, that might help.
     
  7. SallyC

    SallyC Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Don't let your intelligence fool you into thinking this system is manageable - it defies all logic!

    I can't say for certain because I am in a different situation to you in that I claim UC in the support group due to my complete inability to work but I think the limited capacity group would need a doctors fitnote. I had to have a work capability assessment to decide whether they put me in support or the limited group.

    It might take a while for you to get your assessment though, mine took nearly a year. About 1 in 10 of my phone calls to the UC helpline resulted in a helpful person who gave good advice; the rest didn't have a clue.

    I'm not being gloomy to scare you, just to advise you that the system is deliberately designed to feel impenetrable. :banghead:
     
  8. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thank you. I wasn't blowing my own trumpet! I just mean I have the resources to at least attempt to navigate the system.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  9. Blueskytoo

    Blueskytoo Established Member

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    Can I suggest anyone struggling with the UK benefits system join this excellent Facebook group - it's run by and for people with ME and other chronic stuff and has really good, free resources and loads of expert advice from people who've both worked in and been through the system. Their advice helped me win an ongoing enhanced PIP award (I have severe ME) - it's a really supportive group and also a private one so you can share details without your Facebook friends seeing anything. I'm slightly biased as I'm a regular contributor now but I learned so much going through my own claim and had so much support from them I felt it only fair to pay some of it back, and it's something I can do with my very limited energy level that helps me feel like I'm not entirely useless.

    Anyway, here's the name and link, I hope people find it useful.

    UK ME & Chronic Illness Benefits Advice Group.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/278260135547189/
     
  10. Kitty

    Kitty Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Other really good options for welfare advice are Fightback4Justice or Benefits & Work. Both ask for small donations/subscriptions, but only to cover their website and office costs – the advice is free. Fightback have several qualified lawyers on the team, so they know the caselaw back to front and are particularly good for complex cases and tribunals where legal advice is warranted. Good luck!
     

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