Welfare benefits solicitor advises vulnerable client to the full support needed after brain injury. Edie has a brain injury and has unpredictable seizures. She is a very vulnerable individual but some of her disablement is of a hidden nature.
She was referred to Hugh James by the brain injury charity Headway for pro bono assistance from our senior welfare benefits solicitor Peter Renshaw. She presented in a very distressed state and required a lot of telephone contact and support throughout.
Edie had been transferred in to the Work Related Activity Group from the Support Group, under the Work Capability Assessment. This is the relevant test for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The decision followed a face-to-face assessment with a Health Professional.
This meant that, further to a rule introduced in 2012, her Contributory ESA award would now be limited to 12 months. She would also be subjected to a regime of conditionality involving compulsory work focused interviews and work related activity, dealing with potentially uninformed individuals, encountering increased pressure, with the risk of sanctions.
Once Edie’s Contributory ESA award had expired, she would not have been eligible for Income Related/means tested ESA because of her domestic circumstances.
We assisted her with an initial challenge – to seek a reinstated Support Group placement – but that remained unchanged. An Appeal was then made.
Unusually, the Decision Maker then revised the decision under appeal, transferring the client back to the Support Group and declining to follow the Health Professional’s report. The representations made on her behalf about the risks arising from her vulnerability were accepted by the Decision Maker. This meant that the full Appeal process, with the attendant costs, delays and uncertainty, was avoided.
Edie and her family were very happy; they provided positive feedback, made a donation to Headway and said:
We know that whatever the outcome, Potter Rees Dolan would have given us the truth as to whether we had a good case or not. Even though there was no charge, we would use your services again as paying customers.
The names and identifying details of the client have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals involved.