James’ story

Securing PIP and ESA payments for a patient with long Covid.

After initial rejections, James secured health and disability benefits with the help of the Pro Bono team at Stewarts. This meant he received increased support to help him cope with the mental and physical effects of long Covid.


James was rushed into hospital for treatment for Covid-19 and was on a ventilator in the ICU for nearly a month. James first contacted the Pro Bono team at Stewarts several months after he had been discharged home from hospital. He had been struggling with ongoing fatigue and other symptoms associated with long Covid, which meant he could not return to work. The illness and symptoms had also worsened his pre-existing depression. Having worked all his life, James was now worried about how he would pay his bills and had just received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rejecting his application for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

James had been told he had not made sufficient National Insurance contributions to claim ESA, and was told he would need to make an additional voluntary contribution of around £800 towards his National Insurance contributions which would entitle him to claim ESA. This advice was incorrect but, in desperation, James borrowed this money from his parents.

Stewarts wrote to the DWP complaining about this and asked them to review their advice. James was also advised by the Pro Bono team that he should make a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is available to people with mental health conditions, not just physical disabilities..


After months of chasing the DWP, they considered the complaint, reviewed the recordings of their phone calls with James and agreed that their initial advice had been wrong. The DWP agreed to backdate a year of ESA payments totalling nearly £4,000, as well as help him with a new claim. They also made a special payment of £150 as an apology for their handling of his application. Stewarts then liaised with HMRC, who agreed to refund James’s voluntary contributions.

James then received a fresh rejection from the DWP, this time in relation to his PIP application. He described it as feeling as though they had pulled the rug out from underneath him just when things had been looking up. Stewarts requested that the DWP review their decision, arguing that they had not taken into account the impact of long Covid on James’s mental health as well as his physical health. When they reviewed the letter from Stewarts and the evidence provided by James’s GP, they agreed and awarded him PIP.

James continues to adjust to his life following Covid-19 but is no longer as worried about his finances.


James said: “Stewarts have been a godsend helping me with my various claims. They were extremely efficient and always there for me, even by phone. Knowing Stewarts were dealing with the case helped me immensely during my recovery. I would not hesitate to recommend Stewarts.”

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