Apr 20

Disability benefits: get what’s rightfully yours

Reading Time: 8 mins

In the past few years there have been substantial changes to the benefits and support available to disabled people in the UK and their carers. Find out what you are entitled to claim for, the amounts you could receive and how to apply.


Working Age – 18+

Woman in wheelchair at home

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

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), an allowance that will replace all current working-age means tested benefits. The DWP aims for UC to be rolled out across the UK by March 2022.

New applicants living in areas where UC is up and running must apply for ‘New Style’ ESA. To find out if this is applicable to you visit the government web page.

To claim ‘New Style’ ESA

  • telephone 0800 328 5644
  • or textphone 0800 328 1344.

New applicants living in a non-UC area should apply for contributory or income-related ESA. Contributory ESA is based on your national insurance contributions, whilst income-related ESA is means tested.

ESA comprises two groups: the Work-Related Activity group for disabled people who are assessed as being able to work in the future and the Support Group for those who will always have a limited capacity for work. Contributory ESA for new applicants in the Work-Related Activity Group is time-limited to 12 months. There is no time limit for those claiming Contributory ESA in the Support Group or people awarded income-related ISA.

To claim contributory or income-related ESA:

  • telephone 0800 055 6688
  • textphone 0800 023 4888
  • or call the Welsh language claim line on 0800 012 1888
  • Claimants living in Northern Ireland should call 0800 085 6318 or textphone 0800 328 3419.

You’ll need to give the following information to make your claim:

  1. National Insurance number
  2. Medical certificate from your GP or doctor
  3. Your GP’s address and telephone number
  4. Your contact telephone number
  5. Your 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. Your bank or building society account number and sort code
  9. Details of any other income you currently receive.

Once you have registered your claim over the telephone you’ll be asked to complete a claim form. You may be invited to a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment and asked to complete a Capability For Work Questionnaire. The decision maker will inform you if your application is successful and, if so, whether you have been placed in the Work-Related Activity or Support Group. There is an appeals process in place if you wish to challenge the decision.

How much?

For the 2018/19 tax year the weekly rates are:

  • Work-Related Activity Group: £29.05
  • Support Group: £37.65

 Disabled men high fiving

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for all new applicants aged 16 to 64. The only people still receiving DLA, at the same rates as PIP, are existing claimants under 16 and adults over 65. PIP is not means tested and recognises that disabled people incur extra costs in their daily living.

To make a new claim

  • telephone 0800 917 2222
  • or textphone 0800 917 7777.

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

  1. Contact telephone number
  2. Date of birth
  3. National Insurance number
  4. Your 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 you will be asked are designed to take into account mental health, learning disabilities and physical impairment.

There are two elements to PIP, the daily living component and the mobility component.  Once the DWP has received your form an independent health professional may invite you to a face to face meeting 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 daily life. The decision maker will then write to inform you if you have been successful and the level of benefit you are entitled to receive. If you do not agree with the decision you can appeal.

How much?

For the 2018/19 tax year the weekly rates are:

Daily Living Component:

  • Standard: £57.30
  • Enhanced: £85.60

Mobility Component:

  • Standard: £22.65
  • Enhanced: £59.75

Man in a wheelchair using a tablet

Television licence discount

Blind people can apply for a 50% discount on their television licence, which from 1st April 2018 costs £150.50.

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 extra costs that students with mental health impairments, long term illness or other disabilities incur. Examples include covering the cost of specialist equipment, non-medical helpers and extra travel because of your condition. What it doesn’t cover is day-to-day costs every student has.

The rate you receive will depend upon an assessment of your personal needs.

To apply:


Retirement age 65 +

Attendance Allowance (AA)

AA is a benefit for people over the age of 65 who have health needs severe enough to need someone to help look after them. 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
  • or textphone 0800 731 0317.

How much?

For the 2018/19 tax year the weekly rates are:

  • lower rate: £57.30
  • higher rate: £85.60


Television Licence

Blind people of any age can apply for a 50% discount on their colour television licence, which from 1st April 2018 costs £150.50. Full details are here. This podcast explains the process in audio.

Everyone over the age of 75 is eligible for a free television licence. To claim:

  • call 0300 790 60771
  • minicom 0300 709 6050


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 over 35 hours a week and are on a low income may be eligible for CA if the person they care for receives:

  • the 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, as well as 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 you may be entitled to Carer’s Credit, a national insurance credit for those caring for someone at least 20 hours per week. For information, read here.

How much?

For the 2018/19 tax year the weekly rate for Carer’s Allowance is £64.60.

young male carer

Carer’s Assessment

It’s important that the needs of the carer are not overlooked. Carers are entitled to a free Carer’s Assessment from their local authority. The assessment will review your situation and ascertain the practical support you may be entitled to and put you in touch with any organisations that can help. It’s important that you are honest about the impact that your role as a carer has on your life and health.

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

Your local council will tell you if you are eligible for a council tax discount due to disability. People who are severely mentally impaired plus live in carers for someone 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 due to their disability needs, such as requiring extra space to use a wheelchair or an extra bathroom or 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 on a low income can apply for Housing Benefit to help with their housing costs. Couples of working age 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, commonly known as the bedroom tax, if they are considered to be under-occupying the property.

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 because of their disability, such as widening doors for wheelchair access, installing a stair lift and ramps, or adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.

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


Blue Badges

Blue parking badges enable qualifying disabled people to park in marked disabled spaces, for free in pay and display spaces and on single and double yellow lines for up to three hours. Some councils let disabled people park for free in their car parks. Historically only people with difficulty walking have been eligible but the government is considering extending this to people with mental health conditions such as dementia and autism.

Some London boroughs have their own disabled parking schemes for residents and those who work there.

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, a charity which enables customers to lease cars, scootered, powered wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible vehicles at a lower cost.

For further information and how to apply visit their site.


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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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

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


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


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

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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