Can I work on ESA?

Nick
Nick Member Posts: 5
edited 26. Jun 2019, 07:31 in Chat to our Helpline Team
Hi, I have Psoriatic Arthritis, as well as Ankylosis of the spine. I have been in receipt of ESA for a few years, however I need advice. I was asked to go for a reassessment last year, just before X-mas, It was an absolute joke of an assessment. When I arrived after a journey from hell they said there was no one specialised in my area of illness to do the assessment. After a long wait (a couple of hours over the agreed time), which was slightly painful as I was really in a bad way at the time (i'd had an infection so had to stop my Humira meds and was in agony). I was seen. Now the lady at the end said there was enough of a physical issue she skipped asking me regarding psychological impact etc. I was told I would hear the outcome late January.
Suffice it to say we are now in June and I have still not heard anything, however my partner has left her job, due to stress and is trying to be self employed. We are struggling financially and to be honest I want to get back to some sort of work, part time obviously if anyone would have me.

My real question is how do I proceed? I am almost scared to contact the benefits office after the hoops I have had to jump through, I don't even know if its still ESA I get or Universal credit as I heard they were being switched over. All the old letters I get say things like the receipt of benefit but never tell you which one (I expect its so they can be a template for any of them). If I am on ESA, can I work? I believe I can work for £130 a week and still get ESA? And X amount of hours... I believe its 15. Is this correct? Do I need to tell them first? As I am worried they will just question it all again and I will have to be poked prodded and generally humiliated for a third time, probably not to be given the job anyway. Or can I get the work then tell them?

I think the pre Christmas review of me, was purely as I walked into a job fare being held at the job centre as they took your name and details on arrival, within two weeks they were questioning whether I was fit for work. Felt very underhand and like a honey trap of sorts. I want to work, but even my GP says I could never work full time.

Its all got me pretty fed up and depressed the way they treat you.

Comments

  • moderator
    moderator Moderator Posts: 4,082
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Nick and welcome to the Versus Arthritis Forums.

    So sorry to hear you have Psoriatic Arthritis and also your experience with claiming benefits.

    Although we have information on what benefits you can claim*, like you I do not know what happens if the claim seems to vanish into a black hole!

    * https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/living-with-arthritis/financial-support/

    It may be best to contact Citizen's Advice to see if they can help you or with any luck we have forum members who have close experience of the process who are able to give advice.

    If you would like to, you can contact our free helplines on 0800 5200 520 (Monday–Friday, 9am–8pm) where there may be someone who is able to provide better information.

    All best wishes
    Brynmor
  • Nick
    Nick Member Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for the reply. Followed the link, my guess would be that I am on Contribution based ESA and in the support group, as if I am reading it correctly, if I was on the work related or income based ones I would have only received money for 12 months?

    Is this correct do you think?

    In the section for ESA regarding saying you can work 16 hours or earn £120 a week... its very generic, is this both the Contribution based ESA and Income based? And Support group and Work related group?

    Its a bloody minefield.
  • moderator
    moderator Moderator Posts: 4,082
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Nick

    So sorry I cannot give further advice! I realised after posting that this was on the Helplines forum and they will be back to give support on Monday.

    Must admit, I don't envy anyone having to navigate the current Welfare system :shock:

    Brynmor
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,567
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I am only a forum member and my immediate thought was it might be worth reading through the Benefits and Working Matters board. I am retired but thanks to being self-employed was able to carry on working for 17 years and thus avoid benefits. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • helpline_team
    helpline_team Posts: 2,090
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Nick, thanks for posting on the forum, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having difficulties with ESA.
    We’re not benefits advisors unfortunately, but hopefully we can try and answer a few of your questions and guide you to some places to get some specialised advice.
    As Brynmor recommended, it’s probably a good idea to speak with your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau as they can offer more specialised advice on your situation and can also advise you if your area has migrated to Universal Credit.
    In regard to your question about working while receiving ESA, it is possible to do some work while claiming ESA without it affecting your benefit – this is called ‘permitted work’. Currently permitted work must be for less than 16 hours per week and you must not earn more than £131.50 per week. You’ll need to fill in a ‘permitted work’ form which can be found on www.gov.uk, but it may be a good idea to discuss this in more detail with Citizen’s Advice. It’s important to tell the DWP about any changes to your income and you can do this by calling Jobcentre Plus on 0800 169 0310.
    You might want to have a look at our factsheet on ESA which gives some information on the claiming process here: https://www.versusarthritis.org/media/1412/employment-and-support-allowance-factsheet.pdf We also have one on Universal Credit which I’ll add in case your area has migrated: https://www.versusarthritis.org/media/1421/universal-credit-factsheet.pdf
    You might also want to take a look at the charity Turn2Us – they provide information and guidance on applying for benefits. They also have a helpline on 0808 802 2000 (9am-5:30pm Mon-Fri).
    Best wishes, Jack – Helpline Advisor
  • Nick
    Nick Member Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for the reply.

    Surely if I fill out a permitted work form, that is informing the job centre? Also from what I have read many suggest getting the work and then declaring it as otherwise you may jump through loops for nothing.
  • helpline_team
    helpline_team Posts: 2,090
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Nick, thanks for your question. According to the www.gov.uk there is information on "What you must do if you want to work"
    "Before you start any work, whether paid or unpaid, you should fill in a PW1 form and send it to the Jobcentre Plus office that deals with your benefit.
    We will then let you know if the work you want to do meets the permitted work conditions. If you do any kind of work that doesn’t meet the conditions, you could lose your benefit.
    If you can’t tell us before you start work, you should fill in a PW1 form and send it to the Jobcentre Plus office that deals with your benefit as soon as possible after starting work."

    As we are not benefit trained we are unable to advise further and you may need to contact the Citizens Advice who have advisors who do have the relevant training and can assist you further.
    I'm sorry that we are not able to answer your question fully but hope that the previous links posted will be of some help.
    Best wishes, Tracey - Helpline Advisor
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