Friday 24th July 2020
How the RAF Families Federation (RAFFF) helped a family member overcome a decision on eligibility for Job Seekers Allowance claim:
Job Seekers Allowance claim declined
A partner of a serving member of the RAF, Niki*, returned to the UK from an overseas posting and encountered a problem when claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). She was advised she was not eligible for JSA as she had not worked for the past four years and paid tax.
Niki knew she had claimed National Insurance Class 1 contributions for her time overseas accompanying her partner on tour, and therefore should be eligible to claim JSA, so she contacted the RAFFF for help.
RAFFF championed the case with DWP, HMRC and in Parliament
The case was assigned to RAFFF s, Ken Wood, who confirmed she should be entitled to claim. Niki visited the Jobcentre and completed the relevant paperwork to start a claim to be told again she was not entitled; the reason cited was the NI contributions were Class 3 and not Class 1, which is needed to claim JSA.
After further investigation it was revealed the MOD CA1 form (a form that needs to be completed and sent to HMRC to gain NI credits) she completed overseas had not being processed due to a backlog. Once this was known Ken, on behalf of Niki, was given an urgent referral from HMRC and they updated the records within 48 hrs.
Once this was done, Niki could apply for a mandatory reconsideration. However, after completing the paperwork Niki was told again she was not entitled to JSA and had never been entitled as she had not worked and paid tax for the last two years. She challenged the decision citing the the government guidelines to no avail.
At this stage Niki approached Ken again for additional support. Ken contacted the Armed Forces Champion for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in Niki’s geographical area and requested a full breakdown of the decision. The Armed Forces Champion escalated it to a Partner Support Manager who advised a submission of mandatory reconsideration again; advising what to outline in the appeal. This information was passed to Niki who filed another appeal.
Meanwhile, internally the issue had been escalated at the RAFF and Maria Lyle, Director, subsequently met with Will Quince MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for DWP.
JSA eligibility confirmed and arrears paid
After raising the issue at ministerial level the case was reviewed again at DWP and Niki was confirmed eligible for JSA and given £960.00 in arrears.
The RAFFF now has a validated process for future use, collaborating with the Army Families Federation who have also encountered similar issues – a great example of the Families Federations pulling together for the Armed Forces community.
This case it took over four months to reach a successful conclusion, including intervention at ministerial level. Niki never gave up and carried on regardless of the numerous hurdles she had to go through. Speaking about the case on the Inside Air Podcast episode 58, Niki said:
“Without the RAF Families Federation I would have given up. Ken was just as incensed as I was and said we are going to fight this…
“The RAF FF are definitely worth a call… if they can help they really will help. They made a world of difference to me.”
There are many other ways in which the Families Federation can help you read our other case studies online.
How we use case information
Not every case ends up with success. However, we are always able to explain the reason a decision has not been made in favour of the serviceman or woman, and their family members.
All the evidence gathered (stored on an encrypted database) from issues logged with us are used to identify potential ‘themes’ of emerging issues in the Armed Forces. The Families Federation use that anonymised evidence to lobby government for policy changes – all aimed at making life better for you.
You can contact the RAF Families Federation by logging an issue online or telephoning the team on 01780 781650.
*Niki gave us consent to use her name in this article.
We provide confidential help and support to RAF personnel and families, wherever you are in the world. This can be advice offered, imparting our knowledge of policy and procedures, signposting and influencing on your behalf.
The issues you report to us provide ‘evidence’ which can help us to identify emerging issues in the Armed Forces community. We use this information, anonymised, to lobby government for policy changes – aiming to make life better for you.