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Benefits for people who have symptoms of COVID 19

Are you sick and/or have symptoms of COVID-19; extremely vulnerable and have received a letter from NHS; or having to self-isolate because a member of your family has symptoms of COVID-19?

For the first 7 days of sickness employees can self-certify. If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus and those who or have been told to self-isolate because of this disease a self-isolation note can be obtained - https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/.

Employers are asked to use discretion on the evidence they require. Those who choose to self-isolate in case they come in to contact with the virus or are shielding due to an underlying condition would not be considered sick (ask your employer if you can be furloughed). It would be good practice for employers to facilitate homeworking for these people.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees#furloughed-workers

If you're off sick for any other reason, you can get a fit note (this is the official name for a sick note) from your GP or hospital doctor. If your employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report. However you may still require a fit note for you to be paid sick pay.

 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) £95.85

You must be an employee, who has been earning an average of £120 per week, to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay. There are no rules on how long you have to have worked for your employer, as long as you have started work and you do not have to have a written contract of employment. SSP is paid for the first 28 weeks of sickness or until your contract of employment ends; claimants will then have to claim a sickness benefit. Two or more periods of sickness that are separated by eight weeks or less are linked and treated as one single period. Your employer cannot dismiss you from employment to avoid paying you SSP but dismissal on grounds of sickness is not necessarily illegal and employees needs to get advice from their union regarding possible unfair dismissal.

SSP rules have been extended, to pay from the first day of sickness if your sickness is due to coronavirus (for other reasons not connected to coronavirus it remains only payable from the fourth day) and this includes:

  • individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate/shield, this applies to people who have received a letter from their GP or the NHS telling them to stay at home for a least 12 weeks. 
    • The Welsh Government's advice is that people who are shielding should currently continue to do so until 16 August 2020 and the sick pay regulations mean that you will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay until this date as you cannot go to your usual place of work until this date.  We currently do not know what the Welsh Government advice will be for people shielding after this date.  The advice is different to England where shielding ends on 1 August 2020.
  • people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate.

If you do not have enough money to live on you may be advised to claim Universal Credit. A claim for Universal Credit will stop any award of tax credits or housing benefit you currently receive and you may not even be entitled to Universal Credit and you will not be able to reclaim tax credits or housing benefit. You should get advice before you make a claim. Especially if you are a student, are receiving tax credits or have savings of £16,000 or more.

 

Working Tax Credit and sickness

If you meet the qualifying criteria for working tax credit (i.e. depending on your circumstances you are working over 16/24/30 hours per week); you are treated as still being in work for the first 28 weeks of sickness when:

  • you are being paid Statutory Sick Pay;
  • being paid new-style contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • you are incapable of work due to pregnancy 
  • receiving national insurance credits because you have limited capability for work or limited capability for work-related activity.

This means that you can continue to receive your payments of working tax credit.

 

New-style Employment and Support Allowance

To qualify for this benefit you must have met the national insurance contribution conditions and not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. This benefit can be paid after your entitlement to SSP has ended even if you still have a contract of employment and remain employed. This is a contributory benefit, and entitlement depends on your circumstances as the claimant. There are no capital or income rules other than any occupational pension over £85.00 per week that is paid to you as the claimant can affect the amount you receive.

Claims can now be made online at https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/how-to-claim or you can claim by telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2).

If you have claimed new-style ESA and are waiting to be assessed as having limited capability for work and the Decision Maker from the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) is satisfied that you are a person affected by the coronavirus you will be treated as having limited capability for work.  You should inform the DWP when you apply that this is the case, or if you have later been affected by coronavirus after your making claim.

A person is affected by Coronavirus disease (according to DWP guidance) if they are:

  • infected or contaminated with Coronavirus disease; or  
  • in isolation; or  
  • caring for a child under 16 or under 20 and in full time education or approved training who lives with them and is:
    • in isolation or 
    • infected or contaminated with Coronavirus disease.

If being a person affected by Coronavirus applies to your new claim, the 7 waiting days before you can be paid ESA do not apply and you can be paid from your first day of sickness or isolation.

You will be contacted from time to time to check whether you are still affected by Coronavirus.  

If you were claiming only because you were previously affected and are no longer affected by Coronavirus you will no longer be treated as having limited capability for work. If you remain sick due to other reasons, you should supply a fit note (sick note) for your ESA claim to continue.

If you were claiming because of other health conditions and then became affected and are no longer affected by Coronavirus you will continue to be treated as having limited capability for work whilst awaiting a medical assessment. Please remember to continue to provide fit notes (or sick notes) until you are assessed.

Claimants may qualify for Universal Credit to top up new-style ESA and if you are already in receipt of Universal Credit and have stopped working, you will need to write on your journal that you want to claim or have claimed 'new-style employment and support allowance'.

 

Universal Credit

WARNING: If you are currently receiving a legacy benefit: Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, always seek independent advice before making a claim for Universal Credit. This is because:  

  • No new claims (or re-claims) for legacy benefits (except Housing Benefit for some temporary or supported accommodation) can be made unless you meet the SDP (severe disability premium) gateway conditions. This is a complex area but if you have been in receipt of another legacy benefit within the last month and the way this benefit was made up included 'the Severe Disability Premium' and you continue to qualify for it you will not be able to claim Universal Credit.  This is the only group of people who can now make a new claim for legacy benefits. 
  • As soon as you submit a claim for Universal Credit any entitlement to legacy benefits ceases. You will not be able to re-claim tax credits, even if you are not entitled to a payment of Universal Credit.  

People who are of working age (18 to state pension age) and need to claim a means-tested benefit (entitlement will depend on your capital and/or income of you and your partner) for the first time will now have to claim Universal Credit unless you meet the SDP (severe disability premium) gateway conditions. 

If you are a couple and one of you is over state pension age and one of you is under state pension age in benefit terms this means you are a mixed aged couple - this means you are usually unable to claim Pension Credit and may need to claim Universal Credit - please seek advice first.  

Universal Credit has replaced new claims for Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance; Income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Housing Benefit; Income Support; Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. If you are currently receiving one of these benefits you are advised to have a better off calculation to check if you are better off staying on your current benefits with adjustments or claiming Universal Credit. 

Claims are made and managed online via a 'journal'.
https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/new-to-universal-credit/help-with-managing-your-money/

A claim for Universal Credit will end any entitlement or future entitlement to the benefits it has replaced unless you meet the SDP (severe disability premium) gateway conditions. If you are receiving one of these benefits you are advised to have a better off calculation to check if you are better off staying on your current benefits with adjustments or claim Universal Credit. 

To qualify you (and your partner if you have one) must have less than £16,000 in capital and meet the means test. The amount you are entitled to will differ depending on your personal circumstances and what other income or earnings you have coming in and the amount of any savings you have between £6,000 to £16,000. Claimants may qualify for this benefit if they are in work; not working; sick or have caring responsibilities.

All Universal Credit claimants and their partners must have a signed claimant commitment which will outline their work requirements in order to receive this benefit. Universal Credit can be the only income you have coming in or top up other income (eg new-style ESA) to the level that the Government says that you need to live on. 

The Government have announced that once you have made a claim online, if they need any further information to process your claim, they will either request this via your online journal or call you. You do not have to call them.

Universal Credit can be the only income you have coming in or top up other income (eg statutory sick pay, new-style ESA) to the level that the Government says that you need to live on. If you have claimed Universal Credit because you are sick and are waiting for an assessment, you can be treated as having limited capability for work if the DWP is satisfied is satisfied that you are a person affected by the coronavirus.  You should contact the DWP to inform them.

A person is affected by Coronavirus disease if they are:

  • infected or contaminated with Coronavirus disease; or  
  • in isolation; or  
  • caring for a child under 16 or under 20 and in full time education or approved training who lives with them and is 
    • in isolation or 
    • infected or contaminated with Coronavirus disease.

Statutory Sick Pay and other income is taken into account when calculating any entitlement to Universal Credit.

 

Council Tax Reduction 

If you are on a low income or in receipt of Universal Credit you could get Council Tax Reduction to help you pay your Council Tax. How much you may get will depend on your income and circumstances. You can make a claim online. If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and your income or circumstances have changed please report the change online or email benefits@swansea.gov.uk.

 

Housing Benefit 

If you are already in receipt of Housing benefit and your income or circumstances have changed please report the change online or email benefits@swansea.gov.uk. A new claim for Housing Benefit can be accepted in limited circumstances. More information on Housing Benefit

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