benefits advice please

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Hi

?I'm looking for some advice/opinions really as I'm not sure what to do. Currently, I am self-employed but have been unable to work for more than one hour each day for the past six weeks. I work in digital marketing, which is solely done on my computer, and I have developed an ongoing problem with my eyes which prevents me from being able to use computers and/or focus for extended periods of time. I also have anxiety, which has worsened considerably due to the eye problems.

?Given that the eye problem is ongoing, I do not know how this will affect me in the long term. I have been hoping that things would improve, which is why I have been just sort of waiting it out. However, my problems persist and I have reached a point now where I can't afford to continue earning such little money.

?I do not consider myself to be 'unfit for work', in general, but I am definately unfit for my work at the moment (and any other work that would require me to focus on a screen all day). My anxiety has been a massive hinderance to me recently, but I am having therapy for this now and hoping to get it under control.

?Ideally, I would like to get back in to work but it looks as though I may have to find a new job at least temporaily and perhaps permanently. In the meantime, I need to clain some sort of benefit to get by. This is where I am confused and in need of help as I'm not sure how all this works. Should I be claiming ESA or JSA? My ability to work is obviously limited and I have been signed off by the doctor. However, as I said, I am not completely incapable of any work. Also, I am assuming that if I was to claim for JSA, I would be penalised for having left my job in a manner that they may interpret as 'voluntarily', even though, as I see it, I have no other choice since I'm unable to carry on working on the computer.

?Any thoughts/suggestions would be very greatfully receieved. Thanks in advance.

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Cara,

    I'm sorry to hear your problems. I'll try to help you the best i can. Firstly, it seems like you have a limited capability for work right now so JSA doesn't seem the right option for you. However, Universal Credit (UC) maybe in your area and not ESA. If it's ESA then i can advice but i know very little about UC. If it's ESA and you've worked for the last 2 years then it's possible you can claim Contribution Based ESA but you'll need a sick/fit note from your GP. I believe you can find out what's in your area by looking online. If UC has been rolled out in your area then rules for this are different so you'd probably be better off getting advice from your local CAB. In the meantime please check and come back if it's not UC in your area. I'm sorry i can't be of anymore help right now.

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    • Posted

      Thanks Denise. I'm not sure about UC here so I'll look into that. I don't think we do have that here yet but I'm not 100% sure. It's all very confusing isn't it.

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    • Posted

      I think you may qualify for wrag group on esa. As this group helps you get back into work but does not have the same strict condittions as Job Seekers. With job seekers you have to constantly be looking for work. With the wrag group they will hepl support and guide you and the pressure is taken off as such. Although you will have to undertake some work focused interviews and maybe some sort of training programmes.Im guessing this is all done in the groups you attend. Denise will be able to correct me as she has great knowledge on these things where as im still learning wink
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    • Posted

      Also sorry forgot to add the work focus interviews you do not have to do them if

      you’re a single parent with a child under one year old

      you’ve reached Pension Credit age

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your help Michelle. I am a single parent but my son is 8 now. I'd be happy to do any work related interviews or things anyway, as really I'd like to be back in work asap. I just feel like I've been thrown off course really & I'm not sure what to do with myself. I'll have a look into this anyway as it sounds appropriate for my circumstances x

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  • Posted

    Hi have a look at the Govt Uk site.  There is lots of info on there.  If you think you are fit for work for at least 16 hours a week then make a claim for JSA.  You can carry on doing your one hour a week as long as you don't earn more than around £77 week.  Leaving your current job through illness is an acceptable reason to claim JSA.

    If you try and get turned down for whatever reason or you think you can't cope with JSA go and see your doctor and get a sick/fit note.  You will have to attend a work assessment in no more than 13 weeks who will decide if you can stay on ESA and if so what sort,  or get kicked off onto JSA.  There is lots of info about this on the site I mentioned.

    If you are in a UC area then again there is lots of info on there.  It will also tell you what areas are getting UC and if you are in one of them.  Good luck.

     

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the advice and sorry for the delayed response. My doctor has given me a sicknote and I have applied for ESA now. I'm hoping to get back to work ASAP, but am unsure how long this might take as the consultant couldn't be very specific about how long I'll suffer my current symptoms because it varies between people. I guess if they decide that I'm fit for work at the assessment and I get kicked off onto JSA, but am still suffering the same way, then I'll have to look for part time work in a different line of employment. I wonder if you can stipulate on JSA that you can't work in certain conditions. I'm sure they wouldn't take too kindly to that, but at the moment I can work on computers or any other type of screen (till etc.) for a prolonged period. Nor can I be in any environment with harsh lighting (such as a supermarket) without wearing sunglasses. It's all very stressful this benefits stuff isn't it.

      ?All the best x

      ?

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    • Posted

      I'm sorry i haven't replied back, been trying to keep up with posts as best i can this past week.

      As you've applied for ESA with your sick/fit note i would like to add that don't expect that face to face assessment anytime within the next 13 weeks. Backlogs for ESA assessments are huge and some are waiting months and months. Rules have also changed now for new claimants and if you're placed in the WRAG then there will be no backdated money as WRAG money is the same as assessment phase BUT ONLY for new claimants after April 2017.

      Before being sent for an assessment they'll send you an ESA50 form which i'll warn you it's extremely long and like a book to fill in. I strongly advice you to get help when filling out this form, CAB are very good with this. You'll also need evidence to support your claim, this can be anything from Consultant letters, Dr's letters, letter from someone that knows you well or even a diary from yourself. Future appointment letters are of no use for evidence purposes. If you haven't taken a look at the ESA descriptors then please do so as this will help you understand what ESA is all about. You basically have to fit the criteria to have a limited capability for work. If you need anymore advice then please just ask and myself or someone else will be able to help.

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    • Posted

      Hi if you do end up being put onto JSA then make sure you get a letter from your doctor stating how many hours they think you can work and what type of work is suitable for you.

      I did this on JSA coz I have mild copd and depression.The Jobcentre abided by this and kept it on their records.  You can also ask to see the disability advisor at the Job centre.

      You are right - claiming benefits is very stressful.  It's made that way on purpose to put you off claiming! 

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the advice. I suspect I will get put onto JSA after assessment, having looked at the questions they ask. My condition affects my eyes and I don't seem to fit into any of the categories very well. Perhaps nobody does and that's why they word it how they do, I've no idea. There doesn't seem to be much room for individual circumstances.

      All the best x

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