Disabled woman has benefits stopped after offering a room to homeless friend

Stephensons’ Pro Bono Welfare team helped to reinstate a disabled 60-year-old woman’s sickness benefit, which was stopped after she invited her frail and homeless friend to stay with her.

The woman owns her own home and was in receipt of Employment Support Allowance. She kindly agreed to allow her sick friend to stay in her spare room and duly informed the Department for Work and Pensions.

However, the DWP accused the woman and her friend of living as a couple and stopped paying her ESA, as well as issuing her with an overpayment bill of almost £700. The woman has always maintained she was simply helping a friend out and that they were not a couple.

She contacted Stephensons’ Pro Bono Welfare team, who regularly appeal against benefits decisions. The team was able to represent her in appealing the decision. The DWP refused to change their decision and this matter then proceeded to a Tribunal hearing. The team prepared written arguments to the tribunal as well as advising and assisting her throughout the case.

The judge agreed that they were not a couple and that there was no overpayment. The client’s ESA payments were reinstated and she received all of the arrears.

The client said: “I am grateful for Stephensons’ support and assistance in sorting out this problem. It took almost 12 months to determine that I was merely helping my friend, and a further two months before the payments were reinstated, but thankfully now everything has been resolved.”