Work & Education

Disability benefits: make sure you’re getting the help you need

From Personal Independence Payment to Disability Living Allowance, there are a whole host of disability benefits out there designed to help you. But are you claiming everything you’re entitled to? We’ve spoken to the Money Advice Service to understand what assistance is available, who it’s applicable for and how you can get it.

In total, the UK puts more than £40 billion a year towards benefits for those who live with a disability or long-term health condition. That amounts to about 16% of the total welfare budget. So there is help out there if you need it.

But if you are disabled it’s not always easy to know whether you’re receiving the help that you’re entitled to. For a start, many people assume that they won’t be able to claim anything if they’re earning money. But not all benefits are ‘means tested’, so it might well not matter what your income is.

Here, we run you through the different types of assistance you can get and how to apply for them.

Personal Independence Payment

If you’re a working adult and have a disability, the main way to get assistance is through the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

It has largely replaced the old Disability Living Allowance, and has been designed to help if you’re aged 16 to 64. It aims to offer assistance with two areas:

  • daily living – if you need personal care
  • mobility – if you need a hand to get around.

The PIP is a tax-free, weekly payment and is not based on what you earn or how much money you have in savings.

The amount you’re entitled ranges from £21.80 to £139.75 a week. This will depend on how severe your need is for help with daily living or mobility.

Once you apply, you will have an assessment. From this, you will be assigned two scores based on your need for support with daily living and mobility. This will then determine how much money you get.

How to apply for PIP

To organise an assessment you’ll need to call the Department for Work and Pensions on 0800 917 2222. When you make the claim, you’ll be asked for your contact details, date of birth, National Insurance Number, bank or building society details, doctor’s or health worker’s name and details of time spent abroad, a care home or hospital.

Disability Living Allowance

The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) does still exist, but you can now only qualify if you are making a claim for a child under 16.

Other than that, it works in a very similar way to the PIP – with the daily care and mobility elements taken separately into consideration.

This benefit can also still be claimed if you received the DLA before 2013 when the PIP was introduced, and were born before 8th April 1948. If you’re currently receiving DLA but should be getting PIPs instead, the Department for Work and Pensions will write to you to invite you for a PIP assessment.

How to apply for DLA

Again, you can call the Department for Work and Pensions on 0800 917 2222 for advice and help with applying. For the assessment, you’ll need proof of ID, such as a passport, birth certificate or statement from your bank.

Attendance Allowance

On top of PIP and DLA, you might also be able to claim Attendance Allowance. It’s called this because it is a contribution towards the ‘attendance’ of someone providing care and support to you.

This is another tax-free benefit that is not based on either your income or savings. It applies to you if you’re aged 65 or over and have a mental or physical condition that means you require personal care.

On top of that, it can be claimed if you might otherwise be in danger if you weren’t supervised because of your condition.

At the moment, Attendance Allowance can range from £55.10 to £82.30, depending on the care you need.

How to apply for Attendance Allowance

To apply you’ll need to fill in a form, which you can request from the Attendance Allowance helpline on 0345 605 6055. The form will come with notes on how to fill it in.

Council tax and other benefits

You might also be able to get a reduction in the amount of council tax you pay. If, for example, you have certain mental conditions, or live-in personal assistants, you aren’t included when council tax is calculated. This means the total a household needs to pay should be cheaper.

Also, if you’re forced to live in a larger property than you would otherwise need because of your condition – such as because you need a larger bathroom or wheelchair space – you can qualify for the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme.

These are the key benefits to be aware of, but it’s important to note that there are also grants and funds available that could help for your particular situation. It is well worth speaking to the charity Turn2Us, which specialises in helping people to find which benefits and grants they are entitled to.

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