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your rights.

Byline: with Crispin Passmore of the Coventry Law Centre

How do I get DSS decision changed?

Q I have been told by the DSS that I am not entitled to incapacity benefit because I have not paid the correct amount in national insurance contributions.

However, I have worked for six years without a break until my recent illness. How can I persuade the office that I am entitled to this benefit?

A You have a right of appeal against such a decision.

You must make your appeal within one month of the date of the decision.

In practice, it may be that the matter will be able to be sorted out without it going to a tribunal.

You may well have evidence to indicate that you were working in the relevant tax years.

If you have proof such as P60s or wage slips then this may well be sufficient for the decision to be revised in your favour.

It is always possible that there may be a clerical error on your national insurance record or that your employer has not paid the national insurance for one reason or another. Therefore, it is always worth keeping wage slips or P60s as evidence in such cases. You may wish to claim income support during the process.

You can obtain assistance with writing the appeal from Coventry Benefit Advice Line. If you have already appealed you should contact the Law Centre.

Q I've been working for six months and have just found out that I'm pregnant. Will I be entitled to paid maternity leave?

A If your baby is due on or after April 6, 2003, then you are entitled to take maternity leave of up to 26 weeks regardless of how long you have been with your employer. (You should also be entitled to additional maternity leave of a further 26 weeks because of your length of service).

You will be entitled to be paid statutory maternity pay as you will have worked for over 26 weeks by the 15th week before the week in which your baby is due.

Your maternity pay will be for 26 weeks - the first six weeks at 90 per cent of your normal pay and then pounds 100 per week for the next 20 weeks (or 90 per cent of your pay if this is less than pounds 100 per week).

You also have the right to return to the same job or a suitable job.

Q I have rented a property from my housing association for approximately three years. However, I am unhappy living in the area and there have been difficulties with some of my neighbours.

The situation is getting me down and I have recently been told by my doctor that I am suffering from depression.

Is there anything I can do to force my housing association to transfer me to alternative accommodation?

A There is no clear legal right to a transfer. However, housing associations do operate transfer policies and they should apply these policies fairly.

Approach your association and obtain a copy of their transfer policy, which will set out circumstances in which priority is given to applications. Often, medical priority can be given and it may be that if your doctor is prepared to confirm that a move would be beneficial for your health then this would mean priority would be granted. This is unlikely to lead to an immediate transfer but may mean that you can be transferred sooner rather than later.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 2, 2002
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