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Disability benefits: get what’s rightfully yours

Penny Batchelor 9th Feb 2020 52 Comments

Reading Time: 8 minutes

In the past few years there have been substantial changes to disability benefits and support available. Below is a helpful bank of information, where you can find out what you may be entitled to claim, the amounts you can receive and how to apply for each.


Working Age 18+

Woman in wheelchair at home

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) launched in 2008 to replace Incapacity Benefit. The allowance is for people who are unable to work due to sickness or disability, temporarily or otherwise. How to apply depends on whether you live in an area running Universal Credit (UC).

Universal Credit is intended to be an allowance that will replace all current working-age means tested benefits in the UK, and since it’s inception, that’s exactly what it’s done. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) aims for UC to be rolled out across the entire UK in full by March 2022, but at the time of writing (2020) it’s already in most areas around the UK.

New applicants of UC can apply here: visit the government web page.

You can also call them on 0843 903 3754.

ESA is split into two groups:

The first is the Work-Related Activity group. This is for disabled people who are assessed as being able to work at some point in the future, at least in some capacity.

The second is the Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity Group, which is for those who will always have a much more limited capacity for work due to their disability, therefore they may require additional support and don’t have to undertake jobseeking activities to receive their benefits.

You can claim online using the earlier above link, or call to speak to an operator about your eligibility.

During your application you’ll need to provide the following information:

  1. National Insurance number.
  2. Medical certificate from your GP or doctor.
  3. Your GP’s office address and telephone number.
  4. A own contact telephone number.
  5. Up to date mortgage or landlord details if applicable.
  6. A recent council tax bill.
  7. Your last employer’s address and telephone number, with your start and end dates of employment there.
  8. Bank or building society account number and sort code.
  9. Details of any other income you currently receive.

Once you have officially registered your claim, you’ll then be asked to complete a short claim form so that it can be properly assessed. You may also be invited to a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment.

The decision maker will then write to you to confirm if application is successful and, if so, whether you have been placed in the Work-Related Activity or Support Group. There is also an appeal process in place. This is if your application is rejected and you’d like to challenge that decision.

How much?

For the 2019/20 tax year, which is now until April 2020, the weekly rates are:

  • Work-Related Activity Group: £73.10
  • Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity Group: £111.65

 Disabled men high fiving

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

PIP replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for all new applicants aged 16 to 64. PIP recognises that disabled people incur extra costs in their daily lives. This can influence how much you may recieve.

To make a new claim telephone 0800 917 2222.

You’ll need to provide the following details in order to make your claim:

  1. Contact telephone number
  2. Date of birth
  3. National Insurance number
  4. Bank or building society account number and sort code
  5. Your GP’s name and contact details, plus those of any other doctor or health worker whose care you are under
  6. If applicable, dates and addresses of any time you’ve spent in hospital, in a care home or abroad.

The DWP will then post a long ‘How your disability affects you’ form to fill in. The questions take the following into account: your mental health, learning disabilities and physical impairments. If you need help filling out the form, ask your carer, friend, or contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Once the DWP has received your form, an independent health professional may invite you to a face-to-face meeting, either at an assessment centre or your home. You’ll be asked about your ability to carry out daily activities and how your condition affects your life in general.

The representative will then write to you to inform you if you have been successful or not. They will also confirm the level of benefit you are entitled to receive. However, if you are rejected do not agree with the decision: you can enter the appeal process.

How much?

For the 2018/19 tax year the weekly rates are anything between £23.20 and £148.85 a week. It’s split into two parts: mobility and daily living. You might get one of these but not the other, or you can get both.


Man in a wheelchair using a tablet

Television licence discount

People in the UK who suffer from a visual impairment or blindness can apply for a 50% discount on their television licence. This usually costs £157.50 as of 2020, however with the discount applied, the cost is £78.75.

Remember, this is for the whole household to benefit from. Therefore if you live with someone who is blind and they are not aware of this, then they should consider applying.

Full details are here.

This podcast explains the process in audio.


University Students

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) is available for full and part-time students at undergraduate and postgraduate level. It’s designed to cover some of the additional costs that students who suffer from mental health problems, long term illnesses and other disabilities may incur.

Examples include covering the cost of specialist equipment, and non-specialist equipment, non-medical helpers and travel costs. What it doesn’t cover is day-to-day costs every student has, such as groceries and rent.

The rate you receive will depend upon an assessment of your needs. Your university will have their own way of doing things, however it never hurts to inquire and find out for certain.

To apply:


Retirement age 65 +

Attendance Allowance (AA)

Attendance allowance is a benefit for people over the age of 65 which is intended for those who suffer from severe health problems. They may require someone to stop by regularly and help them with their daily tasks, helping to look after them in any way that may be beneficial.

There are two rates, lower and higher, depending on the level of help needed. AA is not means tested.

To claim telephone 0800 731 0122.

How much?

For the 2020/21 tax year the weekly rates are:

  • lower rate: £58.70
  • higher rate: £87.65


Benefits for Carers

Elderly woman being read to in hospital

Carer’s Allowance (CA)

People over 16 living in England, Wales or Scotland who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. This is if the person they care for also receives:

  • A daily living component of PIP
  • The middle or highest care rate of DLA
  • Attendance Allowance.

To claim, fill in the online form. You’ll need the date of birth, name and address, national insurance number (if they’re over 16) and DLA reference number (if they’re under 16) of the person you’re caring for.

You’ll also need your own NI number, bank or building society account number and sort code, P45 or current employment details.

In Northern Ireland the rules are slightly different.

If you are not eligible for CA, then you may be entitled to Carer’s Credit instead. This is a national insurance credit for those caring for someone for at least 20 hours per week. For information, read here.

How much?

For the 2020/21 tax year the weekly rate for Carer’s Allowance is £66.15.

young male carer

Carer’s Assessment

It’s important that the needs of the carer are not overlooked. After all, they need to be fit and healthy in order to function effectively as a carer. Carers are entitled to a free Carer’s Assessment from their local authority.

This assessment will review your situation and ascertain what practical support you may be entitled to. It’s important that you are honest about the impact that your role as a carer has on your life, health and ability to work.

To arrange a carer’s assessment, contact your local council’s adult social services department. Carer’s UK has useful factsheet on how the process differs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Other sources of financial help

Disabled woman in wheelchair at kitchen table

Council tax discount

If you have a disability, your local council will tell you if you are eligible for a council tax discount. People who are severely mentally impaired; who have a live-in carer who isn’t their partner, spouse or child, aren’t included when working out a council tax payment.

Those who live in a larger property because to their disability needs, and require the extra space for use of a wheelchair or an extra bathroom/kitchen, may also be eligible for a discount.

You are responsible for applying to your council for the discount. To find your local council’s website type in your postcode on this Government web page.


Housing Benefit

People who are on a low income can apply for Housing Benefit to help with their housing costs. Couples of working age living in social housing who cannot share a bedroom for health reasons, and disabled people who require an extra bedroom for overnight care, may not have to pay the spare room subsidy. This is commonly known as the bedroom tax.

To see if you’re eligible and to apply go here.


Disabled Facilities Grants

Local councils can grant money for disabled people who need make changes in their home. This can help to make their living arrangements easier for them. Services such as widening doors for wheelchair access, installing a stair lift and ramps are all things that are included.

Contact your local council for eligibility information and how to apply.


Blue Badges

Blue parking badges are available for qualifying disabled people. They allow holders to park in marked disabled spaces without charge (or at a reduced fee) in most pay-and-display car parks. They also allow holders to park on single and double yellow lines for up to three hours.

Historically, only people with difficulty walking have been eligible for a blue badges. However, the government recently extended this to people with mental health conditions too. Conditions such as dementia and autism may also be covered.

England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have different ways to apply. See here.

Wheelchair in front of car


Disabled people who receive the highest level of PIP’s mobility component are automatically entitled to apply to Motability. This is a scheme which enables customers to lease cars, scooters, powered wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible vehicles at a lower cost.

For further information and how to apply visit their site.

Water Sure

If you have a condition that requires a heavy use of water, such as a serious skin condition or extra laundry due to incontinence, you could apply to your water supplier through the Water Sure scheme for a discount. If you live with a large number of school age children, you could also be eligible even if your medical conditions don’t use extra water.

Find out more here.

Warm Home Discount

People on a low income or certain disability benefits qualify for the Warm Home Discount. This is an extra payment on your energy bill of £140 during winter, to make sure you can afford your heating and energy bills.

Each supplier has their own criteria; however all suppliers must accept certain people onto their scheme. Find out more about how to get the warm home discount here.

Useful links

UK Government Carers and Disability Benefits

 Citizens Advice

TV Licensing

If you have questions or thoughts about disability benefits, comment below or leave a question on our Facebook page.


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Joy Ryan
Joy Ryan
5 months ago

I thought I’d been entitled to a Warm Home discount but I live in Northern Ireland and they only give this to you if your in a private rental or own your own property- I rent from housing executive which is the council in England/ You could be on the same benefits whether your in private rental or council. Seems a strange arrangement.

3 years ago

Great x

Tim Yaotome
Tim Yaotome
5 years ago

I find it helpful that disabled people who are still working can claim their benefits from the ESA. Reading this reminded me of my cousin’s eldest daughter, Chi. She got into a soccer accident when she was 16 which rendered her unable to walk. In order to support her physical therapy sessions, I will find an attorney who can help her with her disability insurance claim. With their help, she can recover faster from her injury. Thanks!

9 years ago

I’m a single father bringing up my autistic son since my wife passed away, I’m also blind in one eye and could end up blind in my other eye. Since all the goverment changes life has become unbearable. Because of my son’s disability I fear for his future, and with my own disability getting worse it just makes for a messy ending. I not want to claim benefits as to do so your then knowing as a scrounger and a burden on society. My point is if you ask for help yes you may get it, but it comes at… Read more »

Tracey Fowler
Tracey Fowler
9 years ago

my partner is on dla and carers allowance and we have our own car not one through the mobility, so can we get the insurance paid or get any help with paying it

9 years ago

My wife has give up work to be our daughterd carer we get dla high and carers allowance I work part time whats else can we claim

1 year ago
Reply to  rob

You can claim a reduction in council tax for being a carer. If adaptions have been made to your property your house banding for council tax will drop a band. Travel concessions, free prescriptions. You can look into direct payments from your council, depending on the disability and support required, these payments help buy in carer support to provide respite.

9 years ago

I have been blind in one eye since I was 4 years old I been having difficultys and been having pains in my head and having headaches I can’t even get dla or any support this country the UK takes the biscuit and there’s people on dla for nothing David Cameron is on Twitter I did tweet him but he don’t answer back to anyone

Jules 64
Jules 64
9 years ago

Hi we have had dla for our son since his diagnosis in yr 8 at school he now is planning uni and staying in uni accomodation . He hardly knows much about cooking for him self we have already had a melt down trying to work his finances out. He is paranoid that everyone will steal his food as he has worked out he will probably have £6 a day. I want him to be I dependant but I don’t know how he is going to cope financially or emotionally will he still be entitled to dla or is their… Read more »

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