From some point, claimants with existing awards of legacy benefits will begin to be transferred to UC under the DWP’s ‘managed migration’ process. If you are transferred to UC in this way and your UC maximum amount would be less than the amount you were getting on your legacy benefit, a ‘transitional element’ is included in your UC maximum amount. This is intended to ensure that you are not worse off at the point of transfer to UC.
Transitional protection only applies if you transfer to UC under the ‘managed migration’ process. It does not apply if you claim UC after a transfer under the ‘natural migration’ process. So, you could find that if you claim UC under the natural migration process, it is worth less than the legacy benefit you were getting previously (even if you qualify for the transitional SDP element).
WHEN THE TRANSITIONAL ELEMENT REDUCES OR STOPS
Note: the following also applies to the ‘transitional SDP element’ (or in cases where your severe disability premium began before 27 January 2021, your ‘transitional SDP amount’).
The amount of your transitional element can be reduced over time. This is because, after your first monthly UC assessment period, the amount is reduced by any increase in the standard allowance or other elements included in your UC (including an element included for the first time), except for the childcare element. If these reductions reduce your element to nil, you do not get the transitional element again.
Your entitlement to a transitional element ends if:
- at the time of your UC claim, your earnings from work (or in a joint claim, your and your partner’s combined earnings) were at least the level at which you are not subject to work-search requirements, but they have now been below this amount for three consecutive UC monthly assessment periods (your entitlement to the element ends in the UC assessment period after the third of the assessment periods); or
- you originally claimed UC as a couple, but you are now single, or you originally claimed UC as a single person, but you are now part of a couple (your entitlement to the element ends in the UC assessment period in which this occurs); or
- your UC comes to an end for any reason (note: the DWP may include in this where you stop being entitled to UC as part of a couple, or as a single person, although the law is not clear about this3). In this case, you cannot get a transitional element in any future award of UC, unless your previous UC award ended because your earnings (or in a joint claim, your and your partner’s combined earnings) increased so that your income was too high, and your new UC award starts within three months of the end of your last UC monthly assessment period. In these circumstances, your new UC award includes the same transitional element as in your previous award.
PEOPLE WHO ARE SEVERELY DISABLED – SDP
If you transfer to UC via natural migration and you or your partner were entitled to the severe disability premium in your (or your partner’s) previous award of income support (IS), income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), you may be entitled to an additional amount of UC. This is called a ‘transitional SDP element’.
Note: if your UC started before 27 January 2021, the additional amount of UC you may be entitled to is instead called a ‘transitional SDP amount’. The rules are very similar to those for the transitional SDP element (and the amounts are the same), but you could not qualify unless you had yourself been the claimant of the IS, JSA or ESA: However, between 16 January 2019 and 26 January 2021 inclusive, if you were entitled to the severe disability premium in your legacy benefit, you should have been prevented by law from claiming UC, and so from transferring to UC. The DWP has paid compensation in some cases in which claimants were wrongly allowed to claim UC: seek advice if necessary.
You are entitled to a transitional SDP element (i.e., where your UC started on or after 27 January 2021) if:
- you have not become part of a couple with someone already on UC; and
- within the month before your UC entitlement started, you were entitled (or you were part of a couple in which your partner was entitled) to IS, income-based JSA or income-related ESA, and that included the severe disability premium; and
- you continued to satisfy the conditions for getting the severe disability premium up to and including the first day of your UC entitlement.
Once you are entitled to a transitional SDP element under the rules above, it continues to be included in your UC even if you stop satisfying the conditions for the severe disability premium – e.g., because someone becomes a carer for you. However, because your transitional SDP element is treated ‘as if’’ it was a transitional element of UC, it can reduce or stop in the same way that the transitional element can – e.g., if you start or stop being part of a couple.
You cannot get a transitional SDP element amount if you were only entitled to HB, even if this included a severe disability premium.
The amount for each UC monthly assessment period is:
- if you are a single claimant, £120 if the limited capability for work-related activity element is included in your UC, or £285 if it is not; or
- if you are in a joint claim, £405 if the severe disability premium was payable at the couple rate; or
- if you are in a joint claim, £120 if the £405 rate does not apply and a limited capability for work-related activity element is included in your UC; or
- if you are in a joint claim, £285 if the £405 rate does not apply and there is no limited capability for work-related activity element included in your UC.
- The transitional SDP element is not treated as separate from your other entitlement to UC. Instead, it is treated ‘as if’ it was a ‘transitional element’ (which is the element that may be included in cases of transfer to UC under the managed migration process), and when working out your UC ‘as if’ it was part of your maximum amount of UC. The transitional SDP element can be reduced or stopped in the same way that a transitional element can be.
- The payments may not fully protect you from being worse off under UC compared to the amount of your old legacy benefit and tax credit awards. A court has held that, in the case of a claimant entitled to the severe disability premium who was also entitled to the enhanced disability premium and was worse off under UC because of the loss of that premium, the failure to protect the claimant against being worse off was unlawful. Similarly, in the case of a claimant who, in addition to getting the severe disability premium, was also getting the low rate of the child disability element in CTC and was worse off on UC because that was replaced with the lower rate of the disabled child addition to the UC child element, the court also held that was unlawful. However, at the time of writing, the government’s response to the court decision was not known and the rules had not changed.