Disabled couple get £10,000 payout from DWP after Universal Credit switch

A DISABLED couple who lost money when they switched to Universal Credit have won a payout from the government worth thousands of pounds.

Mary Deadman and John Ryan moved to Universal Credit in 2019 and claim they ended up worse off so took legal action.

The couple say they should not have been switched to Universal Credit from legacy benefits because they were entitled to the Severe Disability Premium (SDP).

SDP is available to support some of the most severely disabled Brits and tops up older benefits like Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

It's estimated that around half a million people get SDP and its worth £67.30 a week for individuals and £134.60 a week for couples.

Universal Credit, which is replacing older benefits, does not have a disability element and many who got SDP found they were worse off after they switched.

How to complain about Universal Credit

If you’ve received less Universal Credit than you were expecting or your payments have been hit by unexplained deductions, then you should make a formal complaint.

You can make a complaint to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you think a mistake has been made with your payment.

You can also complain if there have been unreasonable delays in the Universal Credit process, such as waiting longer than five weeks for your first payment, or if you've not been kept informed about any changes made to your case.

You should also complain if you're not happy about the way you have been treated by the system.

You will need to make a formal complaint about Universal Credit to the DWP either over the phone between 8am and 6pm, online, in person or in writing.

If you have an online Universal Credit account you should call 0800 3285 644 and if you don't, then get in touch on 0800 328 9344.

Letters should be sent to DWP Complaints, Post Handling Site B, Wolverhampton, WV99 2GY.

You'll need some details to hand, like your National Insurance number and will have to explain what has happened and how it's affected you.

The DWP will investigate your complaint to see if it has made a mistake.

If it finds an error it will contact you to let you know how they plan to put things right.

In some extreme cases, you may be offered compensation if its mistake has caused you financial hardship or if you've been treated unfairly.

Disabled claimants have been protected from moving onto the system between 2019 and January 2021, over fears they would see their welfare payments drop.

The couple and lawyers acting on their behalf argued that they should have been part of this group of claimants who were protected from moving to Universal Credit.

They lost out on the cash after switching to Unviersal Credit and were thrown into hardship when Mr Ryan was terminally ill.

They were moved over because although they were entitled to SDP, they were not getting the benefit on the date they applied for Universal Credit.

The couple, represented by Southwark Law Project and Garden North Court Chambers, brought a case against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) argueing they should be returned to the old benefits system or be compensated for the financial loss.

The couple were granted permission to apply for a judicial review by the High Court, but the DWP has now agreed to payout the lost sum of money, compensation and cover legal costs before it goes further in court.

The couple will get £9,680 in backpay and more than £300 per month in future ongoing compensation payments.

They will also get £1,600 for the distress caused as an extra payment which is ex gratia and means there is no admission of liability by the DWP.

A DWP spokesperson said: "Around 1 million disabled claimants are better off on Universal Credit before any transitional protection or payments are considered and we have brought in transitional payments worth up to £405 a month for people previously receiving the Severe Disability Premium who are eligible."

Vulnerable Brits who switched over to Universal Credit and lost out on SDP now get extra payments of £405 per month.

Disabled people getting SDP can now be moved over to Universal Credit if they have a change of circumstances after new rules were introduced in January.

But charities have warned the payments are still not enough to protect diabled claimants from losing out.

The latest case won't result in compensation for others like other lega cases as it did not reach the stage of a court ruling that could apply more widely.

But the law firm representing the couple said anyone in similar circumstances who lost money transferring to Universal Credit between January 2019 and January 2021 should seek legal advice to see if they could pursue a judicial review.

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