Support Workers and The Calendar Month

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  • #21961
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I have an 18 year old claimant who has been giving me the run-around since November last year. I’ll try to be as brief as possible.

    She turned 18 last December; she made a claim November. She’s a Care Leaver. Therefore, not eligible until her 18th Birthday. So far so good.

    We wanted proof of income, savings, end date of Carers’ Allowance, payslips (she’d been working during the period) and award letters for benefits. She was eventually given until the New Year to provide this information. She then ‘phoned to say she would bring it all in, but that she was no longer working. Then she was a student. Then she wasn’t a student. Then she’d started work again….

    Basically, by April, we still hadn’t sorted the claim out. We’d had phone calls from her landlords who also happen to be her support workers asking for time extensions. Eventually, when she finally came in in April to tell us she’d started work again, we told her to provide the information by a set date else the claim would be cancelled. She didn’t provide it, so the claim was cancelled.

    Fine – but then she provides some more information within a calendar month of cancellation. This is basically what happened throughout the claim, since it was received in November. She would be given a time limit, and then 1-2 days before it was due to expire, someone would ‘phone and request an extension, or she would come in and provide another piece of information, but never provide the whole thing. Or she’d just tell us about another change, thereby opening a completely new can of worms.

    Eventually, we got enough information to make a decision on some periods, which is what we did. For the periods where no information was available, we used notional income. We wrote the customer explaining every step we had taken, and why, and what she should do if she didn’t like it. This was June. We also told her that if she didn’t provide the information, we would cancel the claim from the March date we had suspended it from, being the most recent information we had for her.

    We finally cancelled the claim in August, after she failed to provide all the information requested in June. There was no contact from her at all, and no contact from any support worker or college person or care leaver’s support worker.

    Surprise surprise – having cancelled her claim on the 15.8.06, we got a phone call from her support worker on 31.8.06 asking for a fresh claim form and for copy letters to be sent to customer. We did this, but then the support worker ‘phoned back 13.9.06 to say she hadn’t received any of them. We haven’t got written authority to speak to her, so I told her we could only send her copies of the correspondence with written permission from the customer. It turns out the customer is now working full time again, so can’t come into the office.

    Today, I got a ‘phone call from someone in the local college. The customer wasn’t with her and we have no authority, so I told her I wasn’t going to discuss specifics, but if she had a general benefit enquiry I would try and help her. She wanted to know about notional income, why it would be applied, what someone could do about changing it, etc. So I explained that the customer would have been given every opportuntiy, including letters, reminder letters, possibly suspension letters and then decision letters, advising them of every step of the way. So if they had no income, all they ever had to do was tell us. With regard to questioning it out of time, I went on to explain the basics of continuous good cause.

    My question, really, is this – the customer herself has made no attempt to contact us since she last came into the office in April to tell us she would provide the information within the time limits. She then failed to do so, so one of her many support workers supplied the information within a calendar month of the cancellation, thereby re-opening the claim. (We actually had written authority to speak to this particular support worker, who worked with Care Leavers. Now she no longer does anything for the customer as she is no longer under 18. )

    This time round, all we’ve had is ‘phone calls from her landlord/support worker, and one from the college. Neither of these people had authority to act on her behalf.

    Can she therefore be deemed to have contacted us within a calendar month of the date of cancellation?

    What I would like to do is draw a line under this claim, and everything in the past, and if she wants to make a fresh claim, she can do so, and we’ll look at everything again. It’s not like it’s a complicated claim; it’s just been unnecessarily complicated by her failure to provide all the information when requested, and by constant changes that – again – she fails to verify, and getting information in dribs and drabs, or just not at all.

    Please help! I’m due to change alpha splits soon, but I somehow doubt that that will free me from her!

    #6138
    jmembery
    Participant

    Just so I understand the situation.

    1) You received a claim. This was, after some delay and difficulty, put into payment.
    2) There were “gaps” in the entitlement. As soon as the entitlement ceased at the start of the first of these gaps you should have required a new claim from the claimant before you started paying again, but it does not look like you did that.
    3) The claimant then reported a change in circumstances. You requested evidence which was not supplied, you then suspended the claim. Evidence was not forthcoming so you found the claimant to no longer be entitled.
    4) Subsequent to your cancellation decision, you have received a phone call from a support worker and subsequently from a college. You have received no appeal against your cancellation decision.

    As I see it the position is that the claim is cancelled, there has been no appeal so far (with a day or so to go for the initial time limit). Unless you receive a signed appeal from the claimant within the next few days, or a request for a late appeal within the next 12 months, give or take a few days, there is no action to take on the claim.

    #6139
    markp
    Participant

    I am inclined to agree with jmembery here. You actually need to do nothing more with this claim at this moment in time and it should remain dormant until and unless a new claim is received.

    The appeal right expires today (or is it a couple more days due to letters being produced if you are an SX3 site), so, if any appeal is likely to be made by the time you get it, it will be late. From your post this is most likely to be the case. Assuming the appeal is made with a new claim form you can treat the new claim form as a new claim request the info needed and start that all over again. If an appeal is made then you need the evidence from the claimant to justify revising any of the earlier decisions, which, from the sounds of things, you probably wouldn’t get. (Aside…… bet TTS would accept the late appeal because of support worker etc and that will probably be a pig of a submission for you).

    Glad I’m not your Appeals Officer!!

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

    #6140
    Anonymous
    Guest

    That was kind of my feeling about it. After all, there’s been no contact from the customer herself. Her calendar month is up today. The date of issue on the claim forms, though, will be the 31st August and the 13th September, as requested by her landlords/support worker. But I’m inclined to think the calendar month from the 15th August runs out today, and if she doesn’t bring something in by close of post today, then she’s out of time.

    It’s caused discussions in this office about who can request a claim form for a claimant, but I don’t think that applies here.

    Thanks for the advice.

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