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Social Security Case Law

Summaries of recent cases on social security law and practice.

Two-monthly payments during the UC Assessment period caused the claimant to miss out on work allowance.

AF v Department for Communities (UC) [2023] NICom 18



The appellant claimed Universal Credit from October 2019. During her assessment period she received two sets of earnings due to a delay in the processing of her payslip and the appeal was lodged that this was not an accurate reflection of her earnings during the assessment period.

The Tribunal noted at appeal that the Department’s policy was to treat the date on which HMRC reported the claimant’s earning as the date for taking them into account for Universal Credit purposes – thus in this case, showing that the appellant had received two payments in the same assessment period. It was held that the appellant was no worse off as a result and found the Department had awarded the correct sum for that period.

The appellant was then given leave to appeal to the Commissioner and relied on the decision in Johnson to support her claim that the Tribunal erred in their decision.


Legal Issue

The issue in this case is whether the Tribunal adopted the correct approach to a determination of whether two particular monthly payment of wages were made in the same assessment period.

Th appellant submitted that the Tribunal erred in their judgement on the basis that the figure supplied by HMRC was wrong and provided an inaccurate picture of their circumstances. It also focused on the determination that the appellant was no worse off financially, but that her Universal Credit award would vary.



Similar to Johnson, it was held that the loss of a work allowance as a result of a wrongful determination of finances placed the appellant in a worse-off situation and that this equated to a mistake of fact which can also amount to an error or law.

“… as noted by the Administrative Court and by the EWCA in Johnson, the loss of a work allowance inevitably occurs in this situation.  A claimant will be treated as having no earnings in the preceding or succeeding month to a month in which they are assessed as having two sets of earnings.  This means that the earnings allowance can only be applied once rather than twice.  As I understand it, this would have an effect of leaving the appellant potentially £292 worse off in consequence.”


You can read the Commissioners full decision ‘here’.