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Advice Changes Lives: Rachel's Story

Advice Changes Lives

People seeking social security assistance should feel confident that the payments they are receiving are correct.  

Unfortunately, that is not always the case and sometimes “official” errors are made during the decision-making process which see people faced with repaying money to the government because of an error that wasn’t their fault. 

Known as “official errors”, the recovery of these overpayments from someone on a tight budget – that has been received in good faith – can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.  

The Social Security team at the Law Centre wants to ensure that decision makers get it right first time and no one faces financial hardship or stress because of official errors.  

That is why we were so determined to help Rachel when we heard her story. 

Rachel’s story  

“Rachel” called our Social Security advice line distressed about a letter that she received from Universal Credit which stated that she had been overpaid by approximately £25,000 and now had to repay it.  

Rachel told us that she suffered from chronic mental health issues and the stress had exacerbated her condition.   

How we helped 

A “Discretionary Waiver” is a means by which, in exceptional circumstances, the Department for Communities can exercise its discretion and ‘waive’ recovery of all or part of an overpaid benefit.   

Our adviser Bridget explained to Rachel that she had the option to request a Discretionary Waiver to resolve the issue and advised Rachel on what evidence she needed for her waiver application. Following our advice, Rachel spoke with her psychiatric consultant who provided medical evidence to support Rachel and we submitted a Discretionary Waiver application on her behalf.  

What happened? 

Just one week after submitting the Discretionary Waiver application, Debt Management contacted us to confirm that Rachel’s request had been successful, and it would no longer be pursuing recovery of the overpayment. 

In Rachel’s own words: “You have made my life worth living again.” 

When we called Rachel to let her know the news, she told us that she was afraid to answer the call. When she learned that the Discretionary Waiver request had been successful and she no longer had to repay the overpayment, she said:  

“You have made my life worth living again” and thanked the team for exceptional and immediate support during a very stressful time”. Adding the “professionalism and expertise proved paramount in achieving a successful and very timely waiver of an unexpected debt”. I felt confident knowing I could rely on you whenever I needed assistance and guidance, and for that I am forever grateful! You went above and beyond and took complete control… there are no words to express the level of my thanks”. 

Contact us 

If you need advice on social security issues, get in touch with our team on 028 9024 4401, Monday to Friday, 09:30-13:00.