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New UC Regulations from 15th Dec

limit further which disabled students can claim UC

 

Amending Regulations that come into effect on 15th December 2021 close a loophole that some disabled students could have used to claim Universal Credit whilst ‘receiving education’.

Before we look at the change in detail, we need to look at who it applies to.

What are the rules for students claiming Universal Credit?

The UC Regulations say that individuals who are ‘receiving education’ cannot claim UC whilst undertaking their course unless they fall into one of the exceptions.

So, to know whether a student can claim UC, you need to first consider if they are ‘receiving education’.

If they are, then they will only be able to receive UC whilst studying if they fall into one of the excepted groups of students that can claim - this includes those students who would be classed as 'qualifying disabled students'.

The UC Regulations have always made it difficult for disabled students to claim - this change now means it is even more restricted,

So, who’s affected by the new rules?

The rules regarding who is ‘receiving education’ can be a bit confusing so 

Let’s look at who’s definitely affected –

  • Students on full-time advanced courses (i.e. foundation, undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, level 4 or 5 BTECS/NVQ/SVQ including HNC or HND), and
  • Qualifying young people (i.e. aged 16-19 and on a full-time course of non-advanced education)

For everyone else, whether or not they are ‘receiving education’ could depend on what course they on, what (if any) student income they receive and whether their course is compatible with their work related requirements.

Where someone is not ‘receiving education’, they will not be affected by these new rules and their entitlement to UC will depend on whether their course is compatible with their work related requirements.

Click here for a detailed explanation of the definition of ‘receiving education’.

What do the Regs say before the changes?

The UC Regs state that anyone who is ‘receiving education’ will be excluded from claiming UC unless they fall into one of the exceptions. The exception for disabled students has always been quite strict and currently states that they would only be able to claim whilst ‘receiving education’ if –

  1. They are entitled to Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Constant Attendance Allowance or Attendance Allowance AND
  2. It has been determined that they have (or there has been a decision to treat them as having) a Limited Capability for Work or Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity AND
  • Where they were receiving education on the date of their claim for UC, the determination of LCW(RA) was made on or before the day they made their claim OR
  • Where they were receiving UC before they started receiving education, the determination of LCW(RA) was made on or before the day they started receiving education

This meant that someone ‘receiving education’ who was getting PIP, DLA, AFIP, CAA or AA and hadn’t had a LCW decision could make a ‘credits only’ claim for New-Style ESA and be referred for a Work Capability Assessment. If they were found to have (or there has been a decision to treat them as having) a LCW(RA), they could then apply for UC as a ‘qualifying disabled student’ as the LCW(RA) decision was made before they made their claim for UC – even though the decision was made after they started their course. 

However, the DWP's intention was always that to be entitled to UC whilst ‘receiving education’, a disabled student should have been found to have a LCW(RA) before they started their course.

 

So, what do the new Regs say?

A short additional phrase closes this ‘credit only’ loophole as the Regs will, from 15th December 2021, now say for UC claims made on or after that date –

Disabled students will only be able to be awarded UC whilst ‘receiving education’ if –

  • They are entitled to Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Constant Attendance Allowance or Attendance Allowance AND
  • On a date before the date on which the person starts receiving education it has been determined that they have (or there has been a decision to treat them as having) a Limited Capability for Work or Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity

This means that a disabled student who is ‘receiving education’ will only be able to receive UC whilst studying if they –

• Are found to have (or there has been a decision to treat them as having) a LCW(RA) before they start their course, or

• They fall into one of the other exceptions that allow them to claim UC whilst ‘receiving education’. These are that they – 

o Live with a partner who is eligible to claim UC, or

o Are responsible for a child or qualifying person, or

o Are state pension age (i.e. in a mixed age couple), or

o Are under 21, on a full-time non-advanced course and ‘without parental support’.

 

Examples

Brett has been claiming UC for a year. He started an undergraduate degree before he started claiming and was advised to make a credits only claim for NS-ESA as he was already getting PIP. He was found to have a LCW in July 2020 and made a claim for UC a couple of weeks later. As he made his UC claim before 15th December 2021, it does not matter that he was found to have a LCW after starting his course and he will be able to stay on UC. 

 

Jade is 18 and is finishing her A Levels. She will be going to university in September to do an undergraduate degree – so will be ‘receiving education’. She receives PIP Daily Living. Jade will be entitled to make a claim for UC after she has finished her last A Level exam (as she will no longer be a ‘qualifying young person’). If she makes a claim for UC and requests a Work Capability Assessment as soon as possible, she may have the LCW(RA) decision before she starts her course. If she does, she can stay on UC whilst at university. If not, her UC will end from the beginning of the Monthly Assessment Period in which she starts her course as she does not fall into any of the other exceptions.

 

Neil is claiming Income-Related ESA, Housing Benefit and PIP daily living. He is moving to a new city to start a full-time HNC – so he will be ‘receiving education’. He will need to make a new claim for UC for help with his rent when he moves as his Housing Benefit will end. As long as his IR-ESA is in payment when he makes his claim for UC, the LCW(RA) decision will be transferred and he will be able to claim UC whilst ‘receiving education’ as a ‘qualifying disabled student’ as his LCW decision was made before his course starts and he is in receipt of PIP.

 

Musti has been working and claiming PIP daily living but is stopping work to re-train in something more compatible with his declining health. He is about to start a full-time Level 4 NVQ and as he has given up work, he will need some extra financial assistance. However, unless he makes his claim for UC with enough time to be found to have a LCW(RA) before his course starts (i.e. at least 3 months), he will not be able to claim UC whilst ‘receiving education’ as a ‘qualifying disabled student’. 

 

Sandra is about to start a full-time Level 3 BTEC. As she is not receiving a loan or grant for maintenance, whether she is classed as ‘receiving education’ or not will depend on whether the course is compatible with her work related requirements. She receives PIP and expects to be found to have a Limited Capability for Work so put in the ‘work preparation’ conditionality group. When she applies for UC, she should explain that she believes the course is compatible with her work related requirements and therefore she is able to claim UC as she should not be classed as ‘receiving education’ and therefore it doesn’t matter that she has not yet had a determination on her LCW.

 

Rebecca is in her second year of a full time degree course. She has struggled with her health for a while and last year made a claim for PIP. She has just received the decision - that she is entitled to standard rate daily living and mobility. Although Rebecca is a student who has health problems and is getting PIP, because her course started two years ago and she was not found to have a Limited Capability for Work before her course started she will not be classed as a 'qualifying disabled student', and will not be able to make a new claim for UC.


NOTE: Just because a student can claim UC doesn't mean that they will be entitled - that will depend on their personal circumstances and their income.

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