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Advice on Benefits for the Disabled

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for anyone under the age of 16 or over the age of 65 who has care needs or issues with mobility. It is a benefit for people with a longterm illness or disability (either physical or mental) and features a Care Component (payable at three different rates - lower, middle and higher) and a Mobility Component (payable at a lower or higher rate). DLA is not meanstested but eligibility has recently changed, so that Personal Independence Payments are being introduced to replace DLA for people aged 17 to 64.

If you are eligible for Disability Living Allowance, you will receive the component deemed appropriate to your needs. You must have needed help for at least three months before you can claim and should expect to need help for at least a further six months (different rules apply if you are terminally ill).

The Care Component of DLA takes into account how much care you need (regardless of whether you are actually receiving it). There are different criteria for establishing which rate you should receive.

The Mobility Component of DLA considers what help you may need to be mobile and looks at whether you need someone to provide guidance or supervision when you are outside on unfamiliar routes (lower rate) or whether you have severe mobility problems.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

From April 2013 onwards, the Government is introducing a new allowance called Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which will gradually replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people aged between 17 and 64 (DLA will continue for children and people aged 65 and over). Personal Independence Payment is a non-means tested, taxfree payment that you can spend as you choose.

Most people currently receiving DLA won't be affected by PIP until 2015 or later.

PIP is designed to help with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or a disability. What you receive will depend on how your condition affects you. When you make a claim for PIP, you will be assessed so that the Department of Work & Pensions can work out what level of support you should receive. Your award will be assessed on a regular basis.

NB: The Motability Scheme will work with PIP in the same way as is it does with DLA.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit for people aged 65 or over who have specific care needs because of an illness or disability (either physical or mental).

This benefit looks at the amount of care you need, regardless of whether you are actually receiving that care or not, and is not means-tested.

To be eligible for Attendance Allowance, your care should include the following:

  • frequent attention during the day in connection with your bodily functions
  • or continual supervision during the day in order to prevent substantial danger to yourself or others
  • or the need for prolonged or repeated attention during the night in connection to your body functions
  • or being watched for much of the night

You can claim Attendance Allowance if you have needed looking after for at least six months (this qualifying period is waived if you are terminally ill). The care help you need should cover things like bathing, eating, going to the toilet and getting dressed. It can also include help with medical treatment (e.g. administering tablets or injections, or using a kidney dialysis machine).

Attendance Allowance takes into account supervision that you might need because of dizzy spells, falls or seizures. Attendance Allowance is tax-free and paid at two rates (depending on whether you need care during the day, night, or both).

Disablement Benefit

You may be entitled to receive Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (accidents) if you are ill or disabled because of an accident or event that happened in connection with work. The amount you may receive will depend on your individual circumstances (e.g. your age and the assessed level of your disability). If you are awarded Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, this may affect the other benefits you receive.

There is also an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (diseases), which covers more than 70 diseases that can be caused by certain types of work.

War Disablement Pension

You may be able to claim War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme if you were injured or disabled as a result of service in Her Majesty's (HM) Armed Forces, you are no longer serving in HM Armed Forces and the claimed condition was caused by service before 6 April 2005.

Claims for disablement that occurred on or after 6 April 2005 should be made under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The amount you receive will depend on the assessed level of your disability.

Constant Attendance Allowance

If you need daily care and attention because of a disability and you claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or a War Disablement Pension, you can claim Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA).

The criteria you need to fulfil to receive CAA will depend on which of these two benefits you receive.

Carers' Allowance

If you are caring for an ill or disabled person in their home for more than 35 hours a week, you may be entitled to claim Carers' Allowance. However, it is worth being aware that Carers' Allowance can cause other benefits to increase or decrease, and may affect the benefits of the person for whom you are caring.

Home and housing

You may be able to arrange a reduction in your Council Tax Bill if your home has certain features that are essential to you living there. If you are on a low income and paying rent, you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit towards your rent.

If you are registered blind, you are entitled to a 50% reduction on the cost of a TV licence.

VAT on mobility aids and equipment

If you have a long-term illness or you are disabled, you may not have to pay VAT on cars and other equipment designed to help your mobility. People aged 60 and over may be able to pay a lower rate of VAT on mobility aids installed in their home. The rules regarding VAT are complicated; therefore, we would suggest that you contact HM Revenue and Customs for more advice about VAT exemption applicable to your individual circumstances.

To download the Mobility Publication please select the relevant area: