First time post on here and I am looking for your experience and advice.
Bit of background….
I am helping a client who has a cancer diagnosis (brain tumour). She is a young single parent.
In February 2020 we had our first contact with this client. She had been claiming UC since October, but had never been referred for a WCA (despite declaring cancer). When we met in February we helped her send UC a fit note and start the WCA process. As she was having chemotherapy it should have been LCWRA automatically.
Unfortunately the Client made no further contact with us until this month so we assumed all had been sorted, but this is not the case.
UC are claiming the UC50 was never returned (it was, Client had her consultant fill out cancer treatment page and returned it). Cl was only informed when she queried that she hadn’t heard anything about the WCA. So 6 months after first providing her fit note, UC said the process had to start again. On 17th August our client was sent out another UC50. However, she did not receive this, and when she got the reminder letter she went on her journal and told UC she had not received it.
On 16th September (so one day before the one month deadline) a UC work coach put a note on her Journal to say he was sending her out another form by first class post, and she should return this asap.
So here’s the questions I have:
On 24th September the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) informed our client that they had closed her case as her form was not returned in time. I have spoken to the CHDA, and I am being told that it is NOT POSSIBLE for the CHDA to extend a deadline, and when they close file that is that, even if the UC50 is received they just ‘send this back to UC’ and don’t do anything with it (so one questions why the work coach sent out another UC50 the day before the deadline if this is correct!). So, is this everyone’s experience? The ADM section G1131 says the DM can allow a late return of the questionnaire with ‘good reason’. But if CHDA close the referral, and cannot physically reopen it,how will a DM ever get the opportunity to make a decision on the late return of a form? what can the DM actually do even if they accept good reason?
It seems unlike old ESA decisions, in UC if the WCA deadline passes and the form is not returned, there is no ‘decision’ sent to the Client or put on the journal, the claim just plods along (presumably in non-Covid times she would be more hassled for work searching and this would trigger a conversation earlier)
So we are at a stage now where the work coach has sent another WCA referral and our client is being sent ANOTHER UC50 (now her third) to try and get her WCA done.
It is utterly mad and infuriating that someone who has cancer, who claimed UC and declared it, is 12 months into a claim without a WCA being completed, and I am hitting a lot of ‘computer says no’ type of replies and can’t get my head around how this fits into the ADM guidance.
Any experience on this? Or just generally your thoughts would be appreciated.