Advice Line: 028 9024 4401

Legal information briefings

Legal information briefings are directed towards advisers and others who support social security claimants...

Briefing: Complaints about Assessments for PIP and ESA - Oct 2019

When a claim is made for ESA or PIP, the claimant will normally undergo an assessment of their functional ability as part of the application process. If there is dissatisfaction with the treatment received as part of making an application a complaint may be raised.

Download (PDF 328.938 kB)

Chief Social Commissioner Decision in Northern Ireland has Significant Implications for GB Claimants

A Law Centre NI case around the auditing and amending of PIP assessment reports could have significant implications for thousands of claimants in Great Britain.

Law Centre NI have successfully worked to ensure all evidence of the auditing process of assessment reports is made available to to appellants and tribunals in Northern Ireland. This work has led to a significant policy change in Northern Ireland.

Now an important decision by the Chief Social Security Commissioner has confirmed this is an equality of arms issue and that:

"[I]t is a matter of fairness to disclose there has been an audit and amendment of a report and it may not matter that the disclosure may not make any difference to the outcome of the appeal."

Although this audit information is now available as standard in NI appeals it continues to be absent from GB appeal papers.

The Chief Social Security Commissioner has also clarified that:

"The delay in the completion of the report may be enhanced when the report is subject to the audit process. I agree with Mr McCloskey that this has the potential to be a factor to be taken account of when assessing the weight to be given to an individual report but much will turn on the individual circumstances of a case."

A copy of the decision can be found here.

Download (PDF 381.529 kB)

Briefing: Overpayments in Social Security and the Discretionary Waiver - Oct 2019

Under the legacy benefit system the recovery of overpaid benefits largely depended on the Department for Communities (DfC) being able to show that the claimant caused the overpayment through the failure to disclose or the misrepresentation of a material fact. As a result, if the department caused the overpayment then it was non-recoverable.

The law relating to the recovery of overpayments has been changed with particular repercussions for new benefits such as universal credit and welfare supplementary benefits. For these benefits, the department just needs to demonstrate that the claimant has been overpaid. The overpaid amount is then recoverable even if DfC caused the overpayment.

Advisers should note, however, the claimant still has the option to ask DfC to exercise its discretion and decide to waive recovery due to the claimant’s circumstances.

Download (PDF 349.568 kB)

Personal Injury Compensation and Social Security Benefits (September 2017)

The amount of capital that a person possesses affects the amount of benefit to which they are entitled to. The rules on receipt of personal injury compensation are complicated and treated distinctly from other forms of capital.

Download (PDF 275.812 kB)

Supporting Homeless EEA Nationals: Identifying Benefit Entitlement (September 2017)

Advice organisations, homeless organisations and support workers may be asked to provide assistance to EEA nationals who have no entitlement to statutory support. Some may be long term unemployed or homeless and may have vulnerabilities – including addictions – which are exacerbated by their precarious living conditions. Signposting / advising those in these circumstances can be difficult because they are not entitled to the usual homelessness services which tend to be paid through Housing Benefit.

This paper explains how ‘Treaty rights’ are important for EEA nationals applying for benefits. It also sets out some questions for advisers/support organisations to consider with each client, which may help identify a benefit entitlement.

Download (PDF 412.696 kB)

Social Security Impact of Brexit (August 2016)

There is much uncertainty over the impact of leaving the European Union on social security for both EU nationals living in the UK, UK nationals living in EU countries, and cross-border workers (people who live on one side of border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and working in the other jurisdiction). In the short term, all current social security arrangements will remain as they are for EU nationals living in the UK, and for UK nationals living in other EU countries. In the medium term, there could be extensive changes.

Download (PDF 343.255 kB)

Mandatory Reconsideration and Direct Lodgement of Appeals (May 2016)

These important changes affect anyone challenging a social security decision made on or after 23 May 2016. However, they will potentially have the biggest impact on those in receipt of ESA or claiming ESA who receive an unfavourable decision.

Download (PDF 182.82 kB)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates:

Get all the latest news and updates here

See the latest