CRU stands for Compensation Recovery Unit and a CRU Certificate is issued by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to show the amount of recoverable state benefit or lump sum payments which applies to your injury compensation claim.
The Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997 imposes a duty on your opponents to register the claim with the compensation recovery unit. All claims have to be registered including claims involving children, or retired people. When the Department of Work and Pensions issues the certificate to your opponent, you or more commonly your legal representatives will also receive a copy.
The certificate will show the amount of state benefit you have received to date and the type of benefit you are currently receiving, for example universal credit.
These benefits may have been received as a direct consequence of your accident and so are repayable at the successful conclusion of your compensation claim. If no benefits have been paid, then the certificate will simply state there are no recoverable benefits to pay.
As part of your injury claim your full loss of earnings will have been included as part of your compensation, however wouldn't have taken into account any benefits you have received. When finalising your settlement figure, the amount owed to the Department of Work and Pensions will be deducted from your loss of earnings claim and you will receive the net amount. So ultimately your opponent will repay the benefits.
The purpose of any personal injury claim is restorative, by placing you back in the position you would have been had it not been for the accident.
So as part of this claim you are entitled to seek repayment for any expenses that left you out of pocket, including lost wages. But if your injury was sufficiently serious to have prevented you from returning to work for a significant time, you may have claimed benefits as your employer placed you on sick pay (SSP). So these state benefits were paid to you as a direct result of the accident.
If you then recover compensation for your loss of earnings you would have recovered these losses twice. This is because you would have received state benefits in the absence of wages and then compensation for actual lost wages.
The state benefits you receive as a result of an accident or injury can only be offset against certain parts of your claim. These include loss of past earnings along with care and assistance.
The amount to be repaid will be dependent upon the type of benefits 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 the compensation element you receive that's directly related to the injuries you have suffered.
The legal position is clear on which benefits can be offset against the elements of your compensation. So if your loss of earnings claim doesn't cover the amount of benefits actually you received, then you will still not have to repay the shortfall.
In most cases you will have to repay the benefits that you received if they are able to be offset against other comparable losses in your claim. However any benefits received five years post your accident/injury date are not able to be recovered by the DWP.
It is also possible to ask for a review of the CRU calculations and certificate if you believe that the information is incorrect, as well as being entitled to appeal against the recoupment of benefits; however this appeal must be made within one month of the settlement of your compensation claim.
If you accepted an element of blame (known as liability, contributory negligence, a 50/50 split liability etc.) for the cause of your accident you will still need to repay the full amount of any state benefits that you have received, as the CRU an DWP does not take contributory negligence into account.
If you continue receiving state benefits after the settlement of your injury claim, these will be unaffected. The requirement to repay benefits to the CRU will come to an end upon conclusion and settlement of your claim.
For more information regarding a CRU certificate and how it affects you, you can write to:
Compensation Recovery Unit
Tyne and Wear
Or visit their website at www.dwp.gov.uk/other-specialists/compensation-recovery-unit/.