Benefits advice

The Welfare Rights Team

Our aim is to improve income for Sandwell citizens and in doing so this provides a better quality of life. We give free independent and impartial advice and support on all welfare benefits.

We can help with:

  • giving general guidance and support.
  • completion of all welfare benefit forms.
  • offer representation at appeal tribunals.
  • giving advice and support for people who have overpayments of benefits.
  • benefits payments when they cease or are reduced.
  • offering appointments to discuss any help with benefits issues.
  • offering home visits (where appropriate). 

Please contact us without hesitation if you have any of the above benefit concerns.

We will contact you within 2 working days following receipt of the referral.

Who can we help?

  • older people
  • families with children
  • people with health problems (including mental health)
  • carers
  • people with learning disabilities
  • people in low paid work
  • jobseekers

What have we already achieved?

During the last financial year (April 2013 to March 2014) we received 10,703 enquiries from Sandwell residents and generated more income for households which was in excess of £20 million. 

Need help in a crisis?   

If you are in a situation where you are awaiting a new claim for benefit to be processed. You may be able to claim a short term benefit advance. If you require food, money for fuel or items for your home you may be able to claim a local welfare provision if you are receiving a qualifying benefit. 

Would I qualify for personal independent payment?

You may qualify if you are severely or mentally disabled and you require help with you personal care needs or have difficulties walking short distances or with going outdoors. There are descriptors that are assessed by the department of works and pensions and capita, the company that conduct the medicals following your claim and points are calculated up. It is a benefit with two components and both components have a standard and enhanced rate.

I have failed my employment and support allowance medical and don't know what my options are?   

If you disagree with the decision you can ask for an explanation and request reconsideration in writing or by phone. You will not be paid employment support allowance whilst the department of works and pensions are reconsidering the decision, however you can apply for job seeker's allowance in the meantime.

Once the reconsideration has been completed if you are still found not to have limited capability to work then you can appeal the decision by directly writing to the appeals service and the employment support allowance can then be reinstated at this point pending your appeal.

It is important you look at the descriptors and regulations that have been assessed and consider where you should have scored points. You can ask the welfare rights team for help and it may be possible for us to represent your case if we believe it has merit.

However if you agree with the decision to have failed you employment support allowance you must consider another qualifying benefit you can claim for example income support or job seeker's allowance.

Can welfare rights look at my appeal and represent my case?

Yes, we welcome referral from residents of Sandwell. We will arrange an appointment for you to see a welfare rights representative and can represent in many cases if we believe your case has a good chance of being changed to an allowance of benefit at the tribunal. Please do not delay in contacting us; it is wise to discuss your case as soon as your benefit is disallowed. We can represent at appeal tribunals covering all social security benefits.

I've lost my appeal what options do I have?

If you disagree with an appeal decision you can request the statement of reasons and record of proceedings. You have a month to do this from the date of the appeal decision. Discuss your case further with your welfare rights representative. If there is an error of law or documentation that has not been considered you may be able to take your case to the upper tribunal or get a set aside.

Can I apply for help with housing benefit?

Yes, if you require help with the rent and your income is low enough. It is means tested and all income and saving must be declared. You can access the online calculator to see if you may qualify.

I've been advised I have to pay rent because of the bedroom tax and I'm in financial hardship. Is there anything I can claim to help me?

An up to date benefit check would ensure that you are claiming all that you are entitled to.  You may be entitled to some short term help in the form of a discretionary housing payment.

Yes, we can discuss with you the reasons for the sanction and advise you accordingly of the next steps to make. We may be able to ask for a reconsideration of the decision and we can advise you about claiming hardship payments and help with appealing the sanction.

I am already in receipt of disability living allowance but my condition is deteriorating should I report this?

You can report that your health has got worse but if you are under 65 you will be assessed for personal independence payments which is a new benefit that has replaced disability living allowance and the criteria and test is different. It is best to seek advice from welfare rights to discuss your current award. If you are receiving disability living allowance and are over 65 then your disability living allowance claim will be looked at again but only the care part.

Do I qualify for child or working tax credits?

Please see our online calculators. If you are responsible for a child or young person you may be able to qualify for child tax credits. You may also be entitled to working tax credits if you are working a set amount of hours and your income is low. 

Are there any benefits that I may be entitled to claim?

Find out more information about any benefits that you may be eligible to claim.

How do I contact the welfare rights team? 

For further details about benefits and how we can help you please contact us.I have had my job seeker's allowance sectioned, what should I do and can you help me?