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Students Helping Disabled People In Wolverhampton Appeal Benefits Sanctions

August 11, 2015

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Disabled and vulnerable Brits have managed to get more than £600,000 of benefits back on appeal – thanks to the help of students.

The number of sanctions against Brits receiving disability benefits has nearly doubled in one year. The majority of Brits appealing the decision have no one to represent them.

But now University of Wolverhampton law students have teamed up with the council to back claimants who make appeals.

And in the first 12 months, the students have helped 37 claimants get back an average of £17,260 each.

One of the students, Jocelyn Thomas, said: “This has given me confidence, and I am even more motivated to continue doing my very best to try to achieve positive results for the appellants.

“My greatest delight being a representative is experiencing the joy and relief expressed by the clients when they have won their appeals.”

A little help from my (legal) friends

You can appeal a benefits sanction – and having an expert to help you makes a difference.

Just 15% of Brits appealing sanctions have a representative, according to Wolverhampton City Council. But when claimants do find a representative, two-thirds are successful in their appeal.

The students are focused on Wolverhampton claimants. If you are a Wolverhampton claimant, and you need advice, you can call for more information on how to access the legal advice service on 01902 555351 between 9am and 4pm, weekdays. Other councils will have welfare rights departments – you can find your local authority here.

This is how one woman won

The students took up the appeal of a single woman in her fifties. She had a back injury and struggled to move, but she was turned down for Employment and Support Allowance after a medical assessment.

When one the students spoke to her, it turned out the woman was actually incontinent but was too embarrassed to tell the officials handling her case.

The student persuaded her to include the details and helped her write an appeal. It was successful. Now the woman gets £102.15 a week and also received £1,045.80 in arrears from the Job Centre.

How to appeal a benefits sanction

If you’ve stopped receiving Employment and Support Allowance and want to appeal, you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration. You need to do this within one month – otherwise you’ll have to ask for a late revision.

Get the letter you received telling you about the decision to cut the benefit. Write to the office address on the letter explaining why you think the decision was wrong. Include as much medical evidence as possible.

If you don’t get the decision changed by asking for a mandatory reconsideration, you’ll have to take your challenge to the appeal tribunal.

You can find template letters by going to the Citizens Advice page on appeals and clicking on the link to the Employment and Support Allowance appeals guide.

If you want someone to help you and you live in England or Wales, try calling the Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) on 0808 800 3333 FREE, weekdays 9am to 5pm, free from landlines. You can find your local DIAL services here. Capability Scotland also has a helpline.

You can find more information on getting face-to-face advice and finding free legal help here.

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