The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government body that supports those who have been injured as a result of violent crime. CICA administers the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, which pays compensation to help victims of violent crime move on from their experience. Whether by helping to treat any injuries or to offset lost earnings, this compensation can be a vital step to getting your life back to normal.
If you have been injured as a result of criminal activity and are considering a CICA claim, you may be concerned about the impact of a pay-out on any benefits you are receiving. In this post, we’ll answer the question “does criminal injuries compensation affect benefits?” As you’ll see, although the answer to this, in some cases, is yes, there are nevertheless ways to avoid your CICA claim having an impact on your benefits.
We’ll also give you some helpful advice on making a CICA claim. After all, CICA claims can be complex, and the advice of knowledgeable solicitors can make a huge difference to the process.
Benefits and CICA claims
Benefits are an important source of support for those who are struggling as a result of a violent crime. They can help to sustain you while you recuperate physically and emotionally from the impact of the incident.
Indeed, when considering a CICA claim, it’s important to be aware that you do not have to choose between seeking compensation and claiming benefits. In fact, CICA will expect you to have claimed all the benefits you are entitled to before you apply.
So, if you think you might be entitled to compensation, it’s a good idea to first check that you have received all the support you can from other sources, and this includes benefits.
Does criminal injuries compensation affect benefits?
So, you have claimed the benefits you are entitled to, and are considering your CICA claim. But does criminal injuries compensation affect benefits?
This is an understandable question to have. The worst-case scenario would be to end up worse off as a result of a claim!
Well, the simple answer is yes. A successful CICA claim can potentially affect your benefits – or some of them, at least.
However, this is not the full story. If you are claiming benefits and considering a CICA claim, you should not be discouraged by this answer, for two reasons.
Firstly, whether a CICA claim affects your benefits or not depends on which benefits you are claiming and on the amount of compensation you receive.
Secondly, if you are at risk of having your benefits affected by a CICA pay-out, there are steps you can take to avoid this. This involves setting up a Personal Injury Trust.
Let’s look at each of these points more closely.
Compensation and means-tested benefits
As we mentioned above, compensation will not affect all benefits. In fact, it will only affect means-tested ones.
Means-tested benefits are those that are paid depending on your income, savings or other capital (e.g. rent you are paid for a property you own, dividends from shares, and so on). These benefits include:
- Council tax support
- Housing benefit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension credit
Some of these benefits are now being rolled into a single payment, called Universal Credit. This is also means-tested.
If you do receive a substantial compensation pay-out, this can potentially affect these benefits. That’s because the money you receive will be counted as part of your savings unless you take steps to avoid this. If you have enough savings, you will not be eligible to claim these benefits. Read on below to find out more about how this works, and how it can be prevented.
However, you should be aware that there are other benefits you may be entitled to that are not means-tested. For example, “New Style” Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit paid to those with a health condition or disability that prevents them from working. If the injury you have suffered has impacted your ability to work, this may be something you can claim. If so, compensation will not affect it.
How much compensation would affect benefits?
As mentioned above, it is not the case that any compensation you are awarded can affect your benefits. In fact, it can only have an impact if it is over a certain amount.
Each benefit has its own rules, so we’ll focus on Universal Credit, as this is one of the most common. If you have over £16,000 in capital or savings, you will not be entitled to claim this benefit. If you have over £6000, your payments will be reduced by £4.35 a month for every £250 above this amount. (Unfortunately, in calculating this, the amount of savings you have will be rounded up to the nearest £250.)
So, if you were to receive a substantial compensation pay-out, you could find yourself no longer entitled to Universal Credit. Alternatively, you may have the amount you can claim substantially reduced.
It is also worth noting that, if you live with your partner and they are claiming Universal Credit, their payments will be affected. This is because Universal Credit is assessed based on the household, rather than the individual.
However, read on below to find out how this unfortunate outcome can be avoided.
How can you prevent compensation affecting benefits?
As we mentioned above, even if you are claiming means-tested benefits and stand to receive a CICA pay-out greater than £6000, this does not mean you will have to accept losing out on the former for the sake of the latter.
After all, the benefits you are receiving are intended to help support you through a difficult time, as is the compensation you are awarded. So, it’s important you are not put in the position of choosing between them.
In order to avoid this, you can set up a Personal Injury (PI) Trust. A PI Trust is essentially a way of keeping the compensation you receive separate from your own finances. Doing so means the money from your CICA pay-out will not be counted in any assessment of your eligibility for means-tested benefits. You can also incorporate any insurance payments or other forms of compensation you might receive as a result of your injury, for the same reason.
What is a Personal Injury (PI) Trust?
A PI Trust requires at least two trustees – these will be the people who decide whether, and for what reasons, money can be released from the Trust. All the trustees must agree before any money can be released. The money can be used to directly pay for things such as care costs, or it can be used to top up your own account periodically.
The Trust monies will be held in a bank account set up specifically for this purpose, called the trust account. You will not have direct and immediate access to this. Hence, it will not be counted for the purposes of any benefit assessment.
So, even if you are expecting to receive over £6000 from your CICA claim (or indeed any amount that, combined with your existing savings and capital, would take you over the £6000 limit) and are currently receiving means-tested benefits, a PI Trust will prevent the pay-out from having an impact on your benefits.
The setting up of a PI Trust will require support from professionals with experience in the area. They will be able to advise you through the whole process and make sure the Trust is set up appropriately and your money is well protected. Here at HNK, we can not only help you with your CICA claim, but also help you find appropriate support in setting up a PI Trust in the event of a substantial pay-out.
HNK can help with your CICA claim
As you can see, the answer to the question “does criminal injuries compensation affect benefits?” is, in some cases, yes. However, it depends on both the amount of compensation you receive and the benefits you are claiming. You can also avoid any potential impact by setting up a PI Trust.
Making a CICA claim is a challenging process. For those who have suffered the life-changing impact of violent crime, the important thing is for it to be as simple and as stress-free as possible. Having the advice and support of experienced solicitors is extremely important. This is particularly the case because CICA claims can take a long time to assess. As a result, it is vital you avoid unnecessary delays by having the best possible support in making your claim.
Here at HNK, we have helped many victims of violent crime to claim the compensation they are entitled to. We can provide you with all the advice you need, as well as making sure your claim is made in a timely and effective way.
So, if you have suffered an injury as a result of a criminal act, get in touch with us for a free consultation. We can help talk through the details of your case and see what you could be entitled to. If we do think you have a claim, we can offer to take it up on a no-win, no-fee basis. You can simply fill out the form on our website to request a call back. Alternatively, call us on 0151 203 1104 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.