Significant age reports

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    We currently run reports which identify cases where dependants are reaching the age of 18 and 19. We then send out letters asking what the circumstances of the dependants are so that we can reassess benefit entitlement if appropriate.

    If we receive no reply we make an adverse inference and make the higher deduction. However, we have a disagreement about what happens if the customer comes back to us confirming that the dependant is still a dependant.

    If contact is not made within a month of the decision some staff are using the beneficial changes rules and reassessing the claim from the Monday after the proof is received to remove the non-dependant charge. Other staff are arguing that as the claimant is under no duty to report the dependant’s birthday (as there is no change to their circumstances) we should go back to the date the benefit was revised and remove the non-dependant charge.

    We are looking at reviewing our procedures and wondered what other authorities do:

    Do you make an adverse inference or do you suspend and terminate?

    If you do make an adverse inference do you use the beneficial changes rules if a reply is received or so you revise the decision and remove the non-dependant charge?

    All comments would be gratefully accepted.


    I don’t see any need to suspend and terminate in such cases – the worst that can happen is that you would apply a maximum non-dep deduction, so why terminate altogether?

    Standard practice among the LAs I have worked at in recent years is to make the adverse inference – assume the worst and apply the maximum deduction, but write to the claimant to ask them to confirm the actual circumstances. If the claimant’s reply is that the dependant is still a dependant, I also don’t see how you can apply the late notification of a beneficial change rules – there never was a change of circumstances, the LA has simply (wrongly) assumed that there was.


    I presume you don’t raise an OP with this. If they do not provide the details within a month after being asked for them then you could argue that the late revision/supersession rules apply. However I think that a tribunal would side with the claimant and would treat as a dependant in line with the other argument you present. I would also assume that they would be represented.

    We would use an adverse inference and revise, as appropriate, upon adequate representation.

    However should you have raised an OP you would need to apply Reg 104 to it so you would remove all non dep details for the period of the OP, thus probably reducing it to nil.

    Hope this helps.

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................


    CH/2324/2003 seems to suggest that applying the maximum non-dep deduction without any evidence that the non-dep is working is an official error, and therefore the decision to do so can be revised at anytime.

    lesley turton

    But if the adverse inference of the highest NDD produces a nil entitlement, does the claimant then have to make a new claim?



    It depends what the claimant does next. They can ask for a revision or appeal and provide evidence etc which will enable revision. Problem solved

    Or they can “ostrich” for months and then, yes, a new claim becomes necessary

    (Or make a late appeal which TTS, in their infinite wisdom, will accept and deem successful which mean’s you’d revise decision anyhow(!), unless you can find some way of getting that to Commissioners)

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................


    I think Commissioners would probably agree as well. If the claimant “proves” that the dependnat is still a dependant they have had no relevant change in circumstances to notify you of so their entitlement should not have been withdrawn.

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