Closed Period Supersessions - nil award for period in past
Guidance to HB Offices in early 2009 - A6/2009 - stated that where a HB claimant has had a change in circumstances which has already happened and ended, which meant that HB entitlement during this period was nil, then the claimant does not need to make a new claim for benefit for the current period. Instead the HB Office should use a 'closed period supersession' to amend the award to nil for the period of the change. This Circular has created much debate amongst HB Offices and it is up to each to decide whether to adopt closed period supersessions or not! To request that the HB office apply a closed period supersession instead of ending an award, use Standard Letter HS8.
Closed period supersessions are a strange concept, but here is an analogy which may help. If you pay monthly for your broadband connection but for one week last month you had no service, you would expect to be refunded for that week, but your contract with the supplier would not have been broken. Closed period supersessions are a way of making a late adjustment to someone's benefit award without terminating it.
Closed period supersessions evolved through case law (CIS/2595/03) principally to protect claimants. In CIS/2595/03 a decision was made in 1999 that the claimant was not entitled to benefit from September 1996 as he had started work, and therefore he had been overpaid more than £9500. The Judge (Commissioner) found that he had only worked for a few weeks, from 15 September to 18 October 1996 and had only been overpaid by just over £234. Unless the closed period supersession approach could be used to allow entitlement on the original claim to continue from October 1996, that claimant would have lost out on benefit from October 1996 to July 1999.
Closed period supersessions, by keeping the award continuous (but with a hole in it) prevents a claimant having to go onto UC, and can prevent them from losing any family premium. More here.