What is a CRU Certificate?
A CRU Certificate is a document issued by the Department of Work and Pensions Compensation Recovery Unit and shows the amount of recoverable benefit if any, which applies to your accident claim.
Why have I received this CRU Certificate?
You have received a CRU Certificate because you are making a personal injury claim for compensation. The Defendants are under a legal obligation to register all claims with the Compensation Recovery Unit. This will apply whether the claim involves a child, a person already on benefits, someone who has been unable to work as a result of an accident or a retired person.
What does the CRU Certificate mean?
Many certificates will show that there are no recoverable benefits to pay. This is known as a nil certificate. A nil certificate means that you have not received any benefits as a result of your accident.
However, in other cases the certificate will show the amount of state benefit you have received to date and the type of benefit that you are receiving, such as income support. These benefits are generally received as a direct result of the injuries you received in the accident. Any benefits you have received as a result of an accident are repayable at the successful conclusion of your claim.
Why is my claim for loss of earnings being reduced by the amount of benefits that I have received?
The purpose of a personal injury claim is to put you back in the position you would have been had it not been for the accident. This means that you are entitled to recover any out of pocket expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident, such as loss of wages.
If you have suffered from a significant injury which has prevented you from returning to work for a period of time you may have claimed benefits, especially if your employer was not paying you your usual wages during the period of your absence. These benefits were therefore paid to you as a direct result of the accident. If you then recover compensation for your loss of earnings, you would have made a “double recovery”. This is because you would have received the benefits in lieu of wages and then compensation for those lost wages. The regulations do not permit this and therefore any benefits that you have received as a result of injuries suffered in the accident need to be repaid. The CRU Certificate indicates the amount of any repayment and will show how the amount to be repaid is increasing over time.
How are the benefits recovered and repaid?
Your full loss of earnings will be included in the claim. At that stage no credit is given for the benefits you have received. However, when agreeing the final settlement figure the amount of lost wages you recover will be the net amount owing ie the total loss of earnings claimed less the total amount of benefits received up to the date of settlement (or such as another date that is agreed.) The Defendants will automatically deduct this amount from your loss of earnings claim and you will receive the net amount. This is not the same as the amount claimed for your loss of earnings being reduced as you will have already received a sum equivalent to this deduction by way of benefits. In the long run you will be in the same position you would have been in had your employer continued to pay you throughout your period of absence.
What do I need to do?
You will not need to take any action to repay the benefits as this will automatically be dealt with by the Defendants. All you need to do is confirm whether the figures contained on the CRU Certificate are correct to the best of your knowledge.
What if the benefits that I have received are more than my loss of wages?
The benefits that you have received as result of an accident can only be offset against certain elements of your claim. These include loss of earnings and care and assistance. The amount to be repaid will be dependant upon the type of benefit that you have claimed since the date of your accident. Any repayment of benefits cannot be offset against your claim for ‘general damages’, which is compensation for the injuries you have suffered. The law sets out quite clearly which benefits can be set of against which elements of your claim. If your loss of earnings claim does not exceed the amount of benefits that you have received then you will not have to repay the balance.
Will I have to repay all of the benefits?
In the vast majority of cases you will have to repay all the benefits that you have received as the result of an accident if they can be offset against the claim for loss of earnings or care and assistance. However, there is a cut off point of five years post accident. Any benefits received beyond this date are not recoverable.
It may also be possible to ask for a review of the CRU Certificate. This can be requested at any time during your claim if you believe that the information in possession of the Compensation Recovery Unit is incorrect. You are also entitled to appeal against the recoupment of benefits. However, the appeal must be made within one month of the settlement of your accident claim. It is almost invariably the case that it will be the Defendants that make any appeal to the CRU as it is the Defendants who will have to repay the benefits. In those circumstances, if the appeal is successful then the Defendants will generally retain the benefit of any appeal.
I have accepted some liability for my accident, will this be taken into account?
Unfortunately even if you accept an element of liability (known as contributory negligence) for your accident you will still need to repay the full amount of any benefits that you have received. Contributory negligence is not taken into account by the CRU.
However the benefits can only be offset against your loss of earnings claim or your claim for care and assistance.
How will this affect my ongoing benefits claim?
If you are continuing to receive benefits following the conclusion of your personal injury claim, these will not be affected by the settlement of your case. The right to repayment of these benefits by the CRU will come to an end upon settlement of your claim. However, if you receive a significant sum of compensation then this may affect your entitlement to receive means tested benefits. In general, if you receive more than £16,000 in respect of your accident claim (or the settlement money when combined with your savings total £16,000 or more) then you will no longer be entitled to means tested benefits. Between £8,000 and £16,000 your claim for benefit will be reduced on a sliding scale. Remember that your partner’s capital will also be taken into account.
If the value of your accident claim falls within this bracket then we suggest that you contact us as soon as possible to discuss the options available. This may include setting up a “Special Needs Trust”, which is often referred to as a “Personal Injury Trust”.