By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB
Q: I am currently claiming Jobseekers Allowance having been disallowed Employment Support Allowance in August 2014. My advisor tells me that they consider me unfit for work and that I should make a fresh claim for Employment Support Allowance. Can I do that?
A: New regulations regarding Employment Support Allowance from March 30, 2013 remove the right to automatically be treated as unfit for work when you make a fresh claim more than six months after you were previously disallowed if you have previously been found fit for work either on assessment or after an appeal of that decision. Your claim will only be accepted if you have a fresh condition or there has been a significant deterioration in your existing condition after you were previously assessed.
If you were disallowed for failure to return a form or attend a medical assessment you can make a fresh claim automatically after six months, but you can also claim earlier but will not be paid until you attend an assessment and are found unfit for work.
Further changes are proposed to Contribution Based Employment Support Allowance i.e. you are claiming the benefit based on your National Insurance Record rather than low income, under the welfare reforms will limit such claims to 12 months payment. This includes any payments made prior to the reform, unless you are placed in the Support Group of this benefit.
This issue will be addressed again when the details of welfare reform in Northern Ireland are confirmed.
• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or log on to www.adviceguide.org.uk
Call Newtownabbey CAB, Dunanney Centre, Rathcoole on 028 9085 2271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org