Disability benefits: get what's rightfully yours
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+
- Retirement age – 65+
- Benefits for carers
- Carer’s Allowance (CA)
- Carer’s Assessment
- Other sources of financial help
- Council tax discount
- Housing benefit
- Disabled facilities grant
- Blue badges
- Water Sure
- Warm Home Discount Scheme
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:
- National Insurance number.
- Medical certificate from your GP or doctor.
- Your GP’s office address and telephone number.
- A own contact telephone number.
- Up to date mortgage or landlord details if applicable.
- A recent council tax bill.
- Your last employer’s address and telephone number, with your start and end dates of employment there.
- Bank or building society account number and sort code.
- 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.
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
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:
- Contact telephone number
- Date of birth
- National Insurance number
- Bank or building society account number and sort code
- Your GP’s name and contact details, plus those of any other doctor or health worker whose care you are under
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- England apply via Student Finance England
- Scotland apply via Student Awards Agency Scotland
- Wales apply via Student Finance Wales
- Northern Ireland apply via Student Finance Northern Ireland
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.
For the 2020/21 tax year the weekly rates are:
- lower rate: £58.70
- higher rate: £87.65
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.
For the 2020/21 tax year the weekly rate for Carer’s Allowance is £66.15.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have questions or thoughts about disability benefits, comment below or leave a question on our Facebook page.