After initial rejections, JP secured health and disability benefits payments with the help of the Stewarts pro bono team. He was able to recover from the effects of Covid-19 on his mental and physical health with greater levels of support as a result.
Head of Pro Bono Kara Smith reviews JP’s case here.
Securing payments after Covid-19 recovery
JP was rushed into hospital for treatment for Covid-19, and was on a ventilator in the ICU for nearly a month. We first spoke with JP several months after he had been discharged home from hospital. A few months earlier, JP had been struggling with ongoing fatigue and other symptoms associated with long Covid, which meant JP could not return to work. The illness and symptoms had also worsened his pre-existing depression. Having worked all his life, JP was now worried about how to pay his bills and had just received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rejecting his application for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
JP had been told that he had not made sufficient National Insurance contributions to claim ESA, and was advised to make an additional voluntary contribution to HMRC of around £800 towards his National Insurance contributions which would entitle him to claim ESA. This advice should not have been given but, desperate, JP borrowed this money from his parents.
We wrote to the DWP complaining about this and asked them to review their advice. JP was also advised by our team that he should make a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which those suffering from mental health conditions as well as physical injury or illness can be eligible for.
Reversing the DWP’s decisions
After months of chasing the DWP they considered our complaint, reviewed the recordings of their phone calls with JP and agreed their initial advice had been wrong. The DWP agreed to backdate a year of ESA payments totalling nearly £4,000, as well as help him with a new claim. They also made a special payment of £150 as an apology for their handling of his application. We then liaised with HMRC, who agreed to refund JP’s voluntary contributions.
JP then received a fresh rejection from the DWP, this time in relation to his PIP application. He described it as feeling as though they had pulled the rug out from underneath him just when things had been looking up. We requested the DWP review their decision, arguing that they had not taken into account the impact of long Covid on JP’s mental health as well as his physical health. When they reviewed our letter and the evidence provided by JP’s GP, they agreed and awarded him PIP.
JP continues to adjust to his life following Covid-19 but is glad to now be worrying less about his finances.
JP said: “Stewarts have been a godsend helping me with my various claims. They were extremely efficient and always there for me, even by phone. Knowing Stewarts were dealing with the case helped me immensely during my recovery. I would not hesitate to recommend Stewarts.”
The Legal Service – We are here to help
The Legal Service, delivered by our pro bono team, provides patients with advice without obligation, for however long it takes to resolve the issue. Our support is available regardless of the circumstances of an accident and regardless of whether a patient has a personal injury claim.
In these difficult times, the concerns of our pro bono clients are likely to be more stark than those in more fortunate circumstances. The Legal Service will be available throughout the crisis to help in any way we can to ease the burden on our clients.
To get advice from The Legal Service, please contact Kara Smith by phone on 020 7822 8000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find further information regarding our injury expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury pages.