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ESA Advice Please

Client had ESA claim denied. Can someone offer advice?

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A taxi driver client has fallen onto hard times. Suffered a serious head injury (concussion) and therefore can't currently drive. He has been self employed for a number of years but Jobcentreplus have rejected his claim for ESA. Rejection letter says "we cannot pay you because you have not paid, or been credited with, enough national insurance contributions. We have used the tax years ending 5th April 2018 and 5th April 2019 to assess your claim."

Client had SA taxable profits of £10,069 17/18 & £9,017 18/19 so has paid both class 2 & class 4 NI in both years.

I have been trying to find what the criteria is to qualify for ESA and it is difficult to pin this down. HMRC's guidance is vague:

 https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/eligibility

My questiuon is, have Jobcentreplus got their assessment wrong? Client has one month from Sept 28th to request a "mandatory reconsideration"

Replies (8)

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Oaklea
By Chris.Mann
12th Oct 2020 14:54

"Client had SA taxable profits of £10,069 17/18 & £9,017 18/19 so has paid both class 2 & class 4 NI in both years".

The crux of this is likely to be, did your client actually pay Class 2 NIC's in those years, rather than you assuming that he paid those contributions, via his self-assessment?

I'm typically relating to the points discussed here https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/class-2-nic-and-self-assessment

However, if your client has been affected by this aspect of self-assessment, is there any reason why he couldn't make these contributions, by way of a "top-up" contribution?

My brother, who had a brain bleed, while in New York, encountered similar brick walls, when he tried to claim similar benefits/credits, back in 2007.

It all reminds me of the poignant, Ken Loach film "I Daniel Blake". Certainly worth a watch, to see our benefits system at it's very ..............

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By johnny fartpants
12th Oct 2020 16:10

Hi Chris. Yes, client's self assessment showed that both class 2 & 4 were due. Client has paid these (I can see this from my agent's Government Gateway account. Both years were declared and paid by Jan 31st deadline so (a) no issues with these not being declared (b) no issues with the NI not being paid and (c) no issues with the clients records not being up to date.

My initial reaction is that Jobcentreplus are unlikely to have made a mistake over something so simple and that he probably doesn't qualify. After a little more digging I now have doubts.

The problems I am having are (a) ESA isn't something I would get involved in and (b) researching this seems really difficult as if the benefits agencies don't want you to know your rights. It shouldn't be that difficult to check but it is proving to be so. Hence the reason for posting. I appreciate the wealth of knowledge that AWeb contributors usually provide.

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Replying to johnny fartpants:
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By Matrix
12th Oct 2020 16:15

If he is up to it (and most of my clients who have not had a head injury are not), get him to set up a digital tax account so he can check his contribution record.

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By johnny fartpants
12th Oct 2020 16:58

Hi Matrix. Is this even necessary and will it help with my query? I know he has contributed in the years relevant to making his ESA claim.

What I don't know (and can't find on the inter-web) is what the cut off point is to qualify for this benefit. Most of the guidance says "paid enough national insurance contributions". No mention of what is "enough". I found one link which suggests the cut off to be the lower earnings limit:

https://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/employment-and-support-allowance-contr...

If this is so, then a mistake has surely been made and my client qualifies. I should help him appeal. However, I was hoping to get a more definitive answer than relying on a website I have never heard of before!

Any help would be really appreciated.

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By paul.benny
12th Oct 2020 17:20

The criterion is to have two full years of NI. You say your client has just that, so do request a mandatory reconsideration - the grounds being that he does have he NI record. Mandatory reconsideration is a standard procedure and many claimants ahve to request it.

He can check for himself here https://www.gov.uk/check-national-insurance-record
Include that or any evidence you have.

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By johnny fartpants
12th Oct 2020 17:41

Thanks Paul. That's exactly what I intend to do. Many thanks for your help!!

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Replying to johnny fartpants:
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By tax91
14th Oct 2020 10:47

I agree with Paul. At the same time get his MP involved, that often helps things along. Tax 91

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By ricbartle
14th Oct 2020 18:57

Hi.
I have found that "Benefits and Work" have a really brilliant website for all benefits enquiries.
Your client should request a mandatory reconsideration anyway and then look at the "Benefits and Work" website.
I found that a self employed client who was refused ESA on the grounds that he hadn't paid Class 1 NIC was able to provide evidence that Class 2 NIC contributions were sufficient for him to claim ESA.

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