Can I do a course at the Open University if I'm on ESA and PIP?

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mimipi

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#1
I really need some help, all advice is very appreciated.

I missed my gcse's due to mental illness and as a result I have 0 qualifications to my name. I am in my early 20's now and still struggling every day with my illness but I have been thinking of the future lately and how I would like to get into some form of education, it gives me a bit of hope to think its possible to change my life and not feel like such a failure. At the moment I just feel so depressed because I am not doing anything except staying inside all day.

I claim ESA and PIP and have done for a few years. Myself and my family rely heavily on that money, without it we could lose the house. I know how strict they are with these kinds of things and how easily they will take away benefits so I am terrified of starting a course at the OU and then my benefits being taken away or even a compliance officer coming over which I know they do a lot. It doesn't feel fair at all, all I'm trying to do is better myself so I am able to get a job and get off benefits but by doing that I could have them taken away.

Sorry that this has got long, I would really appreciate any advice and thank you for reading.
 
exyz

exyz

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#2
Hello there Mimipi :)

I'll post a bit more in a moment.
 
Passionflower

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#3
I did an OU degree course whilst on ESA but it was 3 years ago and things might have changed. You have to let them know that you are doing a course though.
 
exyz

exyz

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#4
Hello again!
First of all welcome and sorry we can't give you exact advice here, as we are not experts. but I can hopefully give you some general advice and where to ask.
:)

Also, you are very welcome indeed to stay on the forum for a bit of support, and it would great to hear as to how you go on.

From what I do know, people who go through the Access system into the OU tend to be a lot more successful than other students in being able to progress and stick with their studies. :)

I think from what you say here, that you might be eligible for free courses at the OU. If you are in England and household income is less than I think, £25k.

The difficulty is with the ESA people at the DWP. I am not sure if you are in work related ESA or support group. However, the first thing to consider ( given that it is the DWP), is: they are always asking that you inform them of " change in personal circumstance".

It is likely that they will claim going into education is a " change" if you start studying and don't tell them.:scratcheshead:

It does not necessarily mean they will stop your benefit.

I think also, it depends on how many hours a week you are studying. If it is more than a set amount of hours, they might claim that you are in full time education and therefore not eligible for ESA.

However, I do know that it IS possible to study and claim benefits, and that you can also get additional support from the OU or other educational establishments if you have a particular need, eg someone to help with note taking or special equipment.

I did a bit of an engine search and have a contact email for you at the OU. They will be able to tell you exactly what is possible and how it works as they will have a number of students looking to do the same as yourself. Also, ask them if there are any special bursaries/funding for your specific circumstances. They will know about any charities that might help you with a grant for instance.

You will need to give the OU a few details, but it is in confidence, and is not shared with the DWP. One of their student advisors will be in touch with you and they will know exactly the situation and how to advise.

Here is the link in blue if you want to click onto it New

I hope this helps. Sorry I can't give you a definite answer except to say that it is "do able"... but you need to take advice from the OU first, and they will advise re the DWP.

All good wishes and good luck!:)
 
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mimipi

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#5
Hello again!
First of all welcome and sorry we can't give you exact advice here, as we are not experts. but I can hopefully give you some general advice and where to ask.
:)

Also, you are very welcome indeed to stay on the forum for a bit of support, and it would great to hear as to how you go on.

From what I do know, people who go through the Access system into the OU tend to be a lot more successful than other students in being able to progress and stick with their studies. :)

I think from what you say here, that you might be eligible for free courses at the OU. If you are in England and household income is less than I think, £25k.

The difficulty is with the ESA people at the DWP. I am not sure if you are in work related ESA or support group. However, the first thing to consider ( given that it is the DWP), is: they are always asking that you inform them of " change in personal circumstance".

It is likely that they will claim going into education is a " change" if you start studying and don't tell them.:scratcheshead:

It does not necessarily mean they will stop your benefit.

I think also, it depends on how many hours a week you are studying. If it is more than a set amount of hours, they might claim that you are in full time education and therefore not eligible for ESA.

However, I do know that it IS possible to study and claim benefits, and that you can also get additional support from the OU or other educational establishments if you have a particular need, eg someone to help with note taking or special equipment.

I did a bit of an engine search and have a contact email for you at the OU. They will be able to tell you exactly what is possible and how it works as they will have a number of students looking to do the same as yourself. Also, ask them if there are any special bursaries/funding for your specific circumstances. They will know about any charities that might help you with a grant for instance.

You will need to give the OU a few details, but it is in confidence, and is not shared with the DWP. One of their student advisors will be in touch with you and they will know exactly the situation and how to advise.

Here is the link in blue if you want to click onto it New

I hope this helps. Sorry I can't give you a definite answer except to say that it is "do able"... but you need to take advice from the OU first, and they will advise re the DWP.

All good wishes and good luck!:)

Thank you so much, that is very helpful. I was thinking about doing an access course as someone told me they are the best way to get back into education after a long break, so yes that is definitely what I would like to do. Thank you for the link, I will email them asap.
 
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Funnyday

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#6
Thank you so much, that is very helpful. I was thinking about doing an access course as someone told me they are the best way to get back into education after a long break, so yes that is definitely what I would like to do. Thank you for the link, I will email them asap.
I can highly recommend an Access course. I completed one prior to going to Uni. I met some great people. Everyone was very supportive of each other. I went to a few party's and evenings out to the theatre etc.
 
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ramboghettouk

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#8
the dwp may say no problem then when you complete the course declare you fit for work which is ok if you can work

i did an ou acess course at the end they said contact the shaw trust it's now a work provider for the dwp
 
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calypso

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#9
I rang up ESA and they said I wasn't allowed to do anything. Not much help here I'm afraid.
 
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ramboghettouk

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#11
child poverty action is for parents who the bottom line is a certain fitness for work
 
exyz

exyz

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#12
child poverty action is for parents who the bottom line is a certain fitness for work
That's your opinion Rambo, I do understand where you are coming from, but when someone wants to study to climb out of where they are at, there is nothing wrong with telling them where to find out for themselves.

Ringing ESA/DWP directly is the wrong way to go about it. The OU student services /CPAG are the better people to start with they will know what is do-able.

Hopefully, the young Poster here would like to study and eventually have some fitness for work, if you see where I am coming from.

You might argue that I am giving false aspirations, but I know it can be done, even if they go onto a student loan scheme/ bursary of some kind, that is why I am giving the links. CPAG are a good outfit in my experience.
 
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ramboghettouk

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#13
i wish them luck, it depends on diagnosis, with serious mental illness the chances drop and some would say giving unreal hopes is dangerous

i don't deny even then people can do courses, i remember phoning up the benefit enquiry line and been told if you can be a student full time your fit for work
 
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ramboghettouk

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#15
i was a young lunatic once, carers hate the old lags like me and what they perceive as our negativity, they don't see it as good for their sufferer

i admit i've friends who've done better, but they've had lucky breaks for various reasons, dare i say it, i've also friends who are dead
 
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mimipi

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#16
Thank you for the advice everyone. I haven't called or emailed anyone just yet, I've been feeling a bit low these past couple of days. I will find out what I'm able to do when I'm feeling a bit better though. I'm trying not to dwell too much on the what could have beens had I stayed in school. McDonalds wouldn't even hire me at the moment. It's not a good feeling. I will figure it out though and I really appreciate all the advice I've had :hug:
 
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ramboghettouk

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#17
it may depend on whether you've got the support services in place if some dwp clark isn't understanding