Copy written for Citizens Advice — Universal Credit: Help to Claim
“If I’d called Citizens Advice two years ago, I wouldn’t have lost all my savings,” says Jerry.*
Jerry spent his life on the railways as an engineer. It was a job he loved but just a couple of years from retirement, ill health forced him to give it up.
“I was given no advice when I left work and I was too ill to make big decisions at the time,” he says.
Jerry took his pension early but the payments weren’t enough to live on. Rent and bills mostly came out of his savings pot until, after a few short years, the money was gone.
After a lifetime of work, Jerry now had overdue rent, unpaid bills and no food. On the advice of our partners at Age UK, Jerry called Citizens Advice in West Sussex. He asked adviser, Annetta, to be referred to a food bank.
“I was very stressed before I spoke to Annetta,” says Jerry. “I’d just come out of hospital again, I had nothing in the flat and no money coming in for weeks.”
Annetta wanted to do more than provide a box of food, she wanted to know why Jerry was in such dire straits. Still a few years away from a state pension, Annetta helped Jerry apply for Universal Credit. She helped to fill in forms and got them sent to the right places.
Part of Jerry’s illness meant that he was unable to walk properly, so Annetta looked at Employment and Support Allowance. Jerry had been ill for some time so she wrote to Jerry’s doctor and asked for evidence to backdate his claim.
Jerry’s pension meant that his UC claim was rejected. However, Annetta was successful in her ESA claim and Jerry now receives an extra £30 per week on top of his railway pension. Paying the rent had consumed most of Jerry’s life savings, so Annetta successfully helped him apply for Housing Benefit too.
“I’m feeling a lot better now, more relaxed,” says Jerry. “I’ve just come out of hospital again and there’s food in the cupboard and the electric is paid, Annetta really helped.”
*not his real name