Date of first contact where the claim is submitted on line

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  • #38224
    Julie Wilson
    Participant

    If a customer contacts us by whatever means i.e. by telephone in writing etc of thier intention to claim, and then goes on to submit an on line claim within a calendar month; can we use the date of first contact as being the claim date.

    The point that I really need clarifying is whether a form has to be issued for this provision to apply as nothing will have been issued to the customer.

    #107701
    Kevin D
    Participant

    Doesn’t matter. The “intention” rule provides that an “intention” can be notified “…by any means…”; there is no exclusion of electronic means. Worst case is that you have an intention to claim.

    #107744
    Jayne-T
    Participant

    Thanks for the reply. The confusion we have (I am a collegue of first poster) is not around the means in which they state their intention, it is whether we have to issue a claim form.

    Regulation 83 d i states “a claim form was issued to the claimant following the claimant first notifying, by whatever means, a designated office, an authorised office or an appropriate DWP office of an intention to make a claim;”

    As we would not issue a claim form if someone was making an online claim, can this rule still apply?

    #63242
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I think you have to interpret the Regulations in a sensible way that recognises modern claim processes. I would say that you “issue” a form to the claimant when he downloads it onto his remote computer. I think that goes for a true electronic claim when the claimant logs in securely and enters data direct onto the server, and also for the clunkier downloading of a form to print and send: either way an empty form is downloaded from your server to his PC.

    But to take advantage of the first contact rule, I think the above should take place as a direct result of the contact. For example, the claimant telephones to ask how he goes about claiming HB and you tell him the easiest way if he has a computer is to log in and do it online. That I think would satisfy the first contact rule.

    If I am right there is a loophole there because the one month runs from the date the form is issued, not the date of first contact. So he could make the enquiry today, download the form in six months, submit it immediately and satisfy the one-month rule.

    #63255
    Andreas
    Participant

    Following on from Peter’s post, doesn’t a failure to issue a form or advise the claimant to complete one on line also mean that the ‘first contact’ still counts if the claimant submits a form of their own volition?

    #118207
    liffe
    Participant

    [If I am right there is a loophole there because the one month runs from the date the form is issued, not the date of first contact. So he could make the enquiry today, download the form in six months, submit it immediately and satisfy the one-month rule.[/quote]

    Okay so I have a major issue here, I totally agree with this point but how is it explained to a senior officer? Is there any precedent or any case law on this issue? What do the DWP have to say about it…? What do I do?

    We have just started using online claims and I have come across my first issue I have explained the point made but got confused looks, which I can understand. Please tell me that someone higher up the food chain has considered this and they have a definitive answer.

    Help… :quest:

    #118208
    Kevin D
    Participant

    I’m not aware of any case law on this specific point but it could be because the legislation is so specific. Until the LA issues a claim form in response to an intention, the one month limit doesn’t begin to run.

    #118215
    Andi M
    Participant

    I would maybe disagree slightly with Peter on what counts as “issue”, but only because I don’t like the potential loophole, and if various bodies can use the “this can’t possibly be what was intended” arguement so can we :bigsmile:

    I would argue that in the case of an electronic claim, where the customer has been informed of its availability, and (this is important) where we have confirmed with the customer that they have access to this facility than the form has been issued. If the customer then chooses to delay completion of the form that is up to them.

    For me confirmation that the customer has access to the relevant e-channel is key here. If we don’t do that then I can’t see anyway in these circumstances in which we can say the form has been issued. By confirming we are saying here is the form please take one (albeit in electronic terms).

    #118219
    liffe
    Participant

    Thank you for that but still no clearer…

    In my experience most LA’s do not record that a form has been sent when there is no current or previous claim, similarly they do not regularly note (or have the facility so to do) that they have advised that the online form is available. Can we really say that the fact that it is made available online means that it has been “issued”, issuing seems to me to be a positive act in relation to a specific query.

    If we do view online claims as already “issued” then surely we need to regulations specifically refering to “issuing” of a claim form and thus any claim date bought about by an intention to claim (something tells me we can’t do this). Similarly what about the impact on good cause for backdating.

    Most LA’s input a date of first contact on the form and this is the reference to ensure return of that form is within one month. If these steps are not taken due to the online process how does the LA defend themselves when the person says “I intended to claim 12 years ago (okay, exageration)”

    #118224
    Andi M
    Participant

    I don’t think that the fact the form is available online is enough to say that it has been issued, that would be perhaps the equivalent of placing a pile of forms in a customer access area and saying that they had been issued.

    What we are looking at here is a direct response to a customer communication, there needs to be that for the intention to claim to even begin.

    So customer writes says they want to claim, and asks how they can do this. LA writes back stating the different methods they have available, and includes a form. Form has been issued and communication should be logged.

    Customer telephones and asks how they can claim. During the converstaion it is esablished they can claim online and that is their preferred method. LA checks that the customer has access to the online facility. Coupled with the provision of the service the e-form has now been issued. LA would need to record details of the call.

    If the LA doesn’t have the facility to record this type of communication, or just doesn’t as a matter of procedure then the whole thing doesn’t work.

    What I didn’t really make clear in my original post, is for this arguement about an e-form being issued to have any merit at all it must involve direct communication with the customer and it must confirm the situation as it is at that moment (a statement from the customer 6 months ago saying they could access the e-service would no be sufficient for example)

    Now the whole thing might be daft, but i am just trying to think of a way around the customer having an unlimited intention to claim

    #118234
    Kevin D
    Participant

    [quote=Andi M]…is for this arguement about an e-form being issued to have any merit at all it must involve direct communication with the customer and it must confirm the situation as it is at that moment (a statement from the customer 6 months ago saying they could access the e-service would no be sufficient for example)[/quote]

    Many years ago, I also held the view that direct communication with the customer was needed to satisfy the “intention” provision. However, that was rather emphatically blown out of the water in [b]R(IS ) 10/06[/b]. In short, so long as the medium of contact is prompted by the claimant, that is sufficient.

    Is contact with a website sufficient to satisfy the “medium” test? In my view, it probably is. Irrespective of whether that conclusion is correct, the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that it is irrelevant whether or not a LA keeps a record of a stated intention. Once an intention is expressed, “by any means”, that is sufficient and the inadequacies of LA record keeping cannot change the fact of the intention being made.

    On a practical note, why don’t LAs jig their websites so that when a claim form is downloaded, it provides an option for the claimant to provide an email address or telephone number to be stored by the LA for cross-referencing in the event of a subsequent dispute? In most cases, that would provide a means of verifying when a form was “issued”.

    #118235
    liffe
    Participant

    [quote=Andi M] So customer writes says they want to claim, and asks how they can do this. LA writes back stating the different methods they have available, and includes a form.[/quote]

    There’s the thing, there are no more paper claims here at all, the only way to claim in this LA is via the online method… and no there are no telephone claims…

    :O

    #118239
    Kevin D
    Participant

    [quote=barry.cummins]There’s the thing, there are no more paper claims here at all, the only way to claim in this LA is via the online method… and no there are no telephone claims… :O[/quote]

    You won’t like this Barry, but I’m far from sure that a claimant can be forced to claim online. I suspect that, if challenged, such a requirement would be found to be too narrow a restriction of the meaning of HBR 83(2) and its equivalents. In short, LAs are legally required to provide claim forms free of charge and I doubt a Tribunal would agree that online claiming satisfies the requirement of providing a claim form. In my view, if a claimant comes to your counter demanding a claim form, the LA must provide one.

    I am well aware that some LAs have “insisted” claims must be made by phone and, in other cases, “insisted” on claimants attending an interview before issuing claim forms. Both of these “requirement” are unquestionably unlawful and I take the view that “requiring” claims to be made online only is similar in nature.

    #118241
    liffe
    Participant

    Thank you Kevin, I must say though I was expecting a list of caselaw etc. to substantiate the point… (this is a shameless hint as I am requesting some evidence to substantiate the point)I have been trying to explain this point and our duties under the Social Security Act

    #118262
    Anonymous
    Guest

    You’re not going to come across much caselaw on Councils failing to provide forms, since an appeal tends to require that a decision has been made, and a decision means that a claim has been received. :~

    However I would say that the HB regs are fairly clear that forms must be provided free of charge and issued to the claimant requested. If that means the LA has to print out the online version of the form and stuff it in an envelope, so be it!

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