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    Can somebody please help re this claim

    we have a customer who was sentenced on 10/01/11 – the prison informed us that his earliest release date was 20/03/11. The assessor left housing benefit in payment due to early release date – however the customer was not released until 28/04/11 which meant that the customer was in custody over 13 weeks. We have now cancelled the benefit back to when he was sentenced (10/01/11) which has caused an overpayment. We have received a review requesting that we write off the overpayment as offical error as the custoemr was not aware that housing benefit was still being paid.

    What I would like help with is:

    Is it correct to assess prisoners absence time based on the early release date and if so what would you do

    a) would you enter diary date to check and if customer was still in custody would you cancel from the date you are checking with the prison or back to date of sentence.



    I would say that the correct date to cancel back to is the date on which it became known that the absence was going to exceed 13 weeks. Cancelling right back to the date of sentence suggests that this was known all along. Is that right?

    The issue of whose error it was sort of follows from that. Was there some misrepresentation by the claimant or someone acting for him, or was there an error at your end. Who was told what, when and by whom??

    If it is official error, the test for recoverability is whether the claimant could reasonably be expected to know they were being overpaid (when they got the payments or notifications of them).


    Your post does not mention when he was first taken into custody. Was he detained at all prior to sentencing?

    Absence for prisoners should be assessed on a week-by-week basis. At some point, it would have become apparent that the total absence would exceed 13 weeks. If the first date of absence was the date of the sentencing, it seems to me that this fact did not become apparent until at least 20/03/11, maybe later.

    I would say it was an official error not to check with the prison on 20/03/11 as to whether the claimant had been released.

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