A woman has won her legal claim for the right to be eligible for universal credit while in college.
The historic ruling also affects as many as 30,000 other disabled students who have been denied Universal Credit.
Sidra Kauser, 22, from Halifax, is visually impaired and is currently studying for a master’s degree at York University.
She received a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), but that, combined with a student loan, was not enough to provide her with an acceptable standard of living. After paying her rent, she had £ 120 a month to live on.
Sidra applied for Universal Credit, but because she was a college student, a Work Capacity Assessment (WCA) was declined, which meant that in fact she couldn’t claim Universal Credit.
Then asked for a judicial review of the Department of Work and Pensions’ policy that says disabled students should not be invited to a WCA, arguing that the law requires the DWP to conduct such an assessment to determine if they had limited capacity for work, in which case she would be entitled to universal credit.
Students in full-time education cannot undergo the assessment of work ability under the DWP policy. This means that if a person is left with limited incapacity for work during his studies because he is affected by an illness or is suffering from a worsening of a pre-existing condition, he cannot claim benefits.
However, if Sidra had been assessed as having limited ability to work and applied for Universal Credit BEFORE entering a full-time degree, she would have been able to continue to claim the benefits while continuing her studies.
Now, after Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey told the court in July 2020 that she would not defend Sidra’s claim, a Supreme Court Judge has ruled that the Secretary of State had acted unlawfully and has decided to deny Sidra’s rejection destroyed. claim for universal credit.
Sidra will now get a WCA and if she is deemed incapacitated for work, she has the right to file a claim for Universal Credit.
The court’s ruling also has consequences for those disabled students whose application for Universal Credit had previously been unsuccessful because they were denied a WCA.
However, on August 5, the DWP changed the law so that other disabled students who applied for Universal Credit after that date would not be invited to a WCA and therefore could not determine their limited work capacity.
Sidra Kauser said, “I am pleased that I have decided to take a stand and continue my claim for judicial review of the DWP decision to deny me a WCA. Hopefully other students will benefit from the ruling of the court.”
Sidra is represented by Lucy Cadd, Leigh Day attorney, who added, “Sidra has bravely resisted the decision to deny her a WCA and it has proved successful.
The charity Disability Rights UK estimates that the unlawful policy of the Secretary of State, in effect since 2013, could have adversely affected 30,000 disabled students.
“Other disabled students who have been denied a WCA before August 5, 2020 and have therefore lost their claim to Universal Credit, should ask the Secretary of State to reconsider her decision.
“While the DWP has persistently changed the regulations to prevent more disabled students from being entitled to a WCA, there may be room for legal challenge to the new regulations.”