BENEFITS EXPERT: Co-operate or you face losing benefits

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I was taken off Incapacity Benefit (IB) last year and had to have a medical assessment before I was put on to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

I found this all very stressful but thought I would get ESA without further hassle until I draw my State Pension in 2016. However, I have just received a letter saying I have to be assessed again.

I have extensive arthritis which affects me badly enough for me to get Disability Living Allowance for Care and Mobility. Surely common sense should tell them that my condition cannot be expected to get any better. Am I being treated wrongly or does everyone have to be re-tested every year?

People who receive IB are gradually being tested to see if they are eligible for ESA. The only people who are exempted are those who reach State Pension age before 6 April 2014.

People claiming ESA have to take the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to establish if they are ill enough to be eligible.

The assessment involves completing a form ESA 50 to provide details of your condition and you may also have to attend a face to face interview with a health care professional.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will decide whether a person should have further WCAs and, if so, how often they should be. There is no set interval for review WCAs and the DWP would say that each case is treated according to individual circumstances. If someone does not co-operate with invitations to take the WCA they risk losing their benefit.

The best advice I can give you, therefore, is to co-operate with the Department’s requests, even though you may dispute how necessary these might appear to be.

I was receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) which was based upon my National Insurance but it stopped after 26 weeks because my savings were too high.

Is there anything else I can claim, or must I be penalised by the system because I have taken care of my money?

A. Once a person has received six months of JSA that has been based upon their National Insurance Contributions they can only qualify for further JSA on grounds of low income.

This means that if someone has capital of more than £16,000 they cannot qualify for Income-based JSA.

They may qualify if their capital is less, but capital over £6,000 and under £16,000 will still cause benefit to be reduced.