Benefits for people with a disability or long term illness, or who are caring for a disabled person
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA is for people who cannot work because of an illness or disability (although you may be able to do some work if your earnings are low). There are two types of ESA:
- contributory ESA, which you can get if you have paid enough national insurance contributions (for some people this is time-limited)
- income-related ESA which is paid if your income and capital are low enough.
To get ESA, you usually have to prove you cannot work by sending in medical certificates to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). During the first 13 weeks of your claim, you will usually have to have a number of tests which, together, make up what is called the Work Capability Assessment.
Between October 2010 and March 2014 all existing incapacity benefits claimants (those on Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support on disability grounds) will be reassessed under the ESA Work Capability Assessment.
If you don’t agree with an ESA decision on your capability for work, you have the right to appeal. There are strict time limits for making an appeal so you will need to act quickly if you want to do this. If you are waiting for an appeal to be heard, you can either claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or continue to get the basic rate of ESA, depending on your circumstances. If you want to get ESA you should tell the DWP. You must also continue to provide medical certificates. If you want to appeal, you can get help from an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau or contact our advice service.
You can make an initial claim for ESA by telephoning Jobcentre Plus on: 0800 055 6688 or by downloading a form from gov.uk
Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit for disabled people under 65. To get DLA, you must have personal care needs or difficulty with walking because of either a physical or mental disability. DLA has two parts, the care component and the mobility component. The care component is paid at three rates depending on how often and how much you need care. The mobility component is paid at two rates, depending on how much difficulty you have with walking. Depending on your needs, you may get one component of DLA, or both together.
You can get DLA whether or not you work. It isn’t usually affected by any savings or income you may have. Getting DLA can help you qualify for extra amounts of other benefits like Income Support, income-based JSA and Housing or Council Tax Benefit. It can also lead to an increase in your tax credit payments.
DLA can be paid for children under 16. To find out more about whether you or a child you care for might be entitled to DLA, contact our advice service.
You can claim DLA by phoning the Benefits Enquiry Line on 0800 88 22 00 and asking them to send you a claim form. You can also make a claim for DLA online or download a form from the gov.uk website.
The claim form for DLA is long and you can get help completing it. The Benefits Enquiry Line can arrange for someone to help you fill out the form over the phone. Alternatively, Citizens’ Advice Bureaux or disability advice projects can sometimes help or you can contact us for advice.
Personal Independence Payment
From April 2013 a new benefit called Personal Independent Payment (PIP) will gradually be introduced and will eventually replace DLA for people who are aged between 16 and 64 on or after 8th April 2013.
Initially PIP will be introduced for new claims in parts of North West and North East England. From June 2013 new claims for PIP will be taken from all remaining parts of the country.
For people who are already claiming DLA there will be no automatic transfer to PIP. If you are getting DLA you will get a letter inviting you to make a new claim for PIP at some point between October 2013 and 2017. If you don’t claim or your claim is unsuccessful your DLA will stop.
Children under 16 can continue to claim DLA until their 16th birthday. People who are already getting DLA and are aged 65 or over on 8th April 2013 can continue getting DLA as long as they meet the conditions.
PIP will be made up of two parts – a daily living component and a mobility component. Within each component there will be a standard rate and an enhanced rate. In order to qualify for either component you will need to be assessed by a healthcare professional and score a certain number of points. Special rules apply for people who are terminally ill.
Attendance Allowance is a benefit for people who are disabled, have care needs and are aged 65 or over.
You can claim Attendance Allowance by phoning the Benefits Enquiry Line on 0800 88 22 00. They can also help you to complete a form over the phone. You can also make a claim online or download a form at gov.uk .
To qualify for Carer’s Allowance, you must be earning no more than £100 a week and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person who gets Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, PIP daily living component, or the middle or higher rate for personal care of Disability Living Allowance.
In some cases, you may not be able to receive Carer’s Allowance because you are getting another benefit, such as Retirement Pension or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
Even if you can’t receive Carer’s Allowance, making a claim for it might allow you to get extra amounts in other benefits such as Pension Credit, Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. The rules about this are complicated – you can contact us for advice.
If you are caring for an adult, you should always check with them before you make a claim for Carer’s Allowance as they may lose some of the benefit they get, such as a severe disability addition, if you make a claim. Again, get advice on this if necessary.
You can claim Carer’s Allowance online or download a form at gov.uk or phone the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321 or Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 055 6688.