You may be reluctant to ask for help or claim benefits but many people living with long term illness will be entitled to some support.
This support exists to help people remain in their own homes rather than need other care which may be considerably more expensive.
Claiming benefits can be hard work, and you may want to get advice – Age UK and Citizens Advice Bureaux have specialist advisors that can help, as does the Department of Work and Pensions. However, we hope that this guide will point you in the right direction.
Am I Entitled?
You may be entitled to benefits because of your lung condition if you have care or mobility needs, cannot work or are thinking of giving up work. People who care for someone with a lung condition may also qualify for some benefits.
Each benefit is subject to different rules, but there are two key factors you need to bear in mind
Is it means-tested? If so it will take into account your other benefits and income.
Is it contributory? If so you’ll need to have paid a certain amount of national insurance contributions.
This guide provides information and useful links on the following areas:
Access to work
Disability Living Allowance
Employment & Support Allowance
Mobility and Travel
Personal Independence Payment
Access to Work
Access to Work aims to help overcome barriers that disabled people or those with some long-term health conditions may face when moving into or retaining employment. It can help to pay for the support you may need because of your disability or health condition. For example:
- aids and equipment in your workplace
- adapting equipment to make it easier for you to use
- providing money towards any extra travel costs to and from work if you are unable to use public transport, or if you need to adapt your vehicle
You can apply for Access to Work if you are a UK resident aged over 16, and have a disability or health condition that has a long-term, adverse effect on your ability to carry out a job.
Your employer must make certain changes known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make sure you’re not substantially disadvantaged when doing your job. You should talk to your employer about reasonable adjustments before you apply for Access to Work.
You can find out more at www.gov.uk/access-to-work
Attendance Allowance helps people who are severely disabled by a physical, mental or sensory condition. It is not taxable or means tested and is non-contributory. You must be a UK resident and over 65 years of age at the date of claim, and normally have needed help for at least six months. You don’t have to have someone caring for you in order to claim.
It is the help needed, rather than the help actually received or the condition itself, which entitles you to Attendance Allowance. The Allowance is for severely disabled people who need frequent attention with bodily functions and continual supervision in order to avoid substantial danger to themselves or others. There are two rates of payment depending upon whether daytime activities or day and night activities are affected.
For people who are not expected to live for more than six months there’s no qualifying period for how long they’ve needed help.
You can find out more, along with the claim form, at www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance
If you are over 16 and spend at least 35 hours caring for someone with substantial needs, you may be able to claim a Carer’s Allowance. It is non-contributory, but any means-tested benefits you do get will be reduced by the same amount you get from Carer’s Allowance.
The person you care for must already get either the Personal Independence Payment daily living component, Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest care rate or Attendance Allowance. You do not have to live with or be related to the person you care for.
Carer’s Allowance is subject to income tax, but for each week you get Carer’s Allowance you’ll automatically get National Insurance credits. If you get the state pension, get some advice before you apply for Carer’s Allowance, as the two benefits can’t be paid at the same time. Call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321.
The Allowance can also affect other benefits – both yours and the person you are caring for. You can use a benefits calculator to work out what might be affected www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators
There are also more details here www.gov.uk/carers-allowance
If you cannot claim Carer’s Allowance you may be able to get Carer’s Credit if you care for someone for at least 20 hours a week. They need to be receiving either the Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (daily living component).
Carer’s Credit is a national insurance credit, so if you have to stop work due to your caring responsibilities, your contributions will still be paid. This means you can take on caring responsibilities without affecting your ability to qualify for the state pension.
Disability Living Allowance
The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has three levels of payment according to the amount of care you are judged to need, and two levels to support mobility needs. However, DLA is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for disabled people aged 16 to 64. You can no longer apply for DLA if you’re 16 or over, but may be able to apply for PIP instead.
If you already receive DLA and were born before 8 April 1948, you’ll continue to get DLA as long as you’re eligible for it. If you were born on or after 8 April 1948, your DLA will end. You’ll get a letter telling you when that will happen and will continue to get DLA until that date. Unless your circumstances change, you don’t need to do anything until you get this letter.
Employment and Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can be paid if you’re assessed as being too ill to work. If you’re ill or disabled, ESA offers you
- financial support if you’re unable to work
- personalised help so that you can work if you’re able to
You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.
ESA has two elements – contributory ESA, which will depend on your National Insurance contributions and income-related ESA, which is the means-tested element. You will usually have to travel to a centre to be assessed (you can claim travel costs back). You will then be placed in either the work-related activity group, where you will be expected to try to find work and have regular interviews with an adviser, or the support group, where you will not be expected to look for work. The support group pays an extra disability premium on top of the basic rate of ESA.
If you are assessed as fit to work straightaway you can apply for Job Seekers Allowance.
You can use a benefits calculator to check if you can get Employment and Support Allowance before you apply – www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators. There’s also a lot more detail about ESA here – www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance.
Claim forms can be very daunting – the Attendance Allowance application form is over 30 pages long. It can therefore really help to get advice and help with the forms. You can visit a Citizens Advice Bureau – www.citizensadvice.org.uk- or contact a charity such as Age UK for help – www.ageuk.org.uk – benefits. You can also ask your GP or hospital specialist for advice.
If you have a condition which might be expected to worsen fairly rapidly your doctor or nurse may be able to provide you with a form called a DS1500 which enables you to apply under ‘Special Rules’ which means your claim can be processed rapidly for a higher rate payment.
When completing assessment forms include as much information as possible – describe your worst day rather than your best and think about all of those things, however small, that affect your quality of life day to day. Think about how long it takes you to do something and to recover afterwards, not just whether you can do it or not. Also remember to think through your whole day and night.
Don’t forget, if you and your spouse both have problems with everyday activities you can both apply for benefits.
The Winter Fuel payment is paid automatically every year between November and December to people born on or before 5 August 1953 who get the State Pension or another social security benefit. They are tax-free and do not depend on how cold the weather gets. The exact amount you receive depends on your age and any benefits you get.
Cold Weather payments are only paid when the temperature where you live falls to zero or below for a period of seven days between 1 November and 31 March. The payment is £25 for each seven day period. These payments are usually made automatically to people on the following benefits:
- Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support or Income-based Employment and Support Allowance and have a child under five or a disabled child
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
For more about heating and related benefits visit www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating
The Warm Home Discount Scheme is run with some electricity providers and gives a one-off discount on your winter electricity bill. If you qualify for the discount, you’ll get a letter in the autumn or winter. You may also be able to claim a discount under the broader group rules if you have an illness or disability. Electricity providers will have their own criteria for eligibility under the broader group.
You can find out more by calling your energy supplier or the Warm Home Discount Helpline on 0345 603 9439 for more information. Lines are open 8.30am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Mobility and Travel
The Blue Badge scheme is for on-street parking. It is available depending on other mobility payments or if you have difficulty walking any distance. You may have to undergo an assessment.
Badge holders may park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours but in general not where there are restrictions on loading or unloading – indicated by yellow kerb dashes and/or signs on plates. You can apply online at www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge but the scheme is administered by your local council.
If you travel by train you can buy a Disabled Persons Railcard for £20. This gives you 1/3 off adult rail fares for travel on the National Rail network in Great Britain. If you’re travelling with another adult they also get 1/3 off their rail fare. There are no time restrictions on the Disabled Persons Railcard, so you can use it to get a discount on tickets at any time of the day.
IPF patients will qualify if they:
- receive Personal Independence Payments
- receive Disability Living Allowance at either the higher or lower rate for the mobility component, or the higher or middle rate for the care component
- receive Attendance Allowance or Severe Disablement Allowance
- buy or lease a vehicle through the Motability scheme
For more information see: https://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk
You can also get 1/3 off rail travel with a Senior Rail Card if you are over 60. Check this website for information: https://www.senior-railcard.co.uk
Everyone over state pension age and eligible disabled people are entitled to free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England. Local authorities can offer further benefits to their residents and in some areas you can get a pass for free travel if you are over the age of 60 so it is best to check local information. In some areas, like London, you can get free travel at age 60, but only within the local area.
The Motability Scheme provides an affordable, worry-free way for people with disabilities to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair in exchange for their mobility allowance. To be eligible to join the Motability Scheme, you need to receive one of the following mobility allowances and you must have at least 12 months’ award length remaining:
- higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance
- enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment
Full details of the scheme can be found here www.motability.co.uk
You can apply for exemption from paying vehicle tax if you get the:
- higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
- enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
You can get a 50% reduction in vehicle tax if you get the PIP standard rate mobility component. The vehicle must be registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name. It must only be used for the disabled person’s personal needs. It can’t be used by the nominated driver for their own personal use.
Find out more here www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-tax-exemption-disability
Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and is paid to eligible people aged 16 to 64 who have a long-term health condition or disability. If you were 65 before 8 April 2013, your DLA claim can continue and you should not be reassessed for PIP.
PIP is non-means-tested and non-contributory, and can be paid whether you are working or not. To qualify for PIP you must have had difficulties or needs for three months before you can claim and must be likely to continue to have them for the next nine months. You’ll be assessed by a health professional to work out the level of help you can get. Your rate will be regularly reviewed to make sure you’re getting the right support.
PIP has two components – called Daily Living Activities and Mobility Activities. If you’re eligible you can be paid for each component or both. There are two rates for each component, standard and enhanced, and you’ll be assessed on a points system to decide which rate you qualify for. You may get the daily living part of PIP if you need help more than half of the time with things like preparing or eating food, washing and dressing or reading and communicating. You may get the mobility part of PIP if you need help going out or moving around.
If you get PIP, you may also be eligible for other benefits such as access to the Motability or Blue Badge schemes.
There are no prescription charges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Prescriptions are free to over 60s in England. If you are not eligible for free prescriptions, you could take advantage of the prepaid prescription scheme, which can save you money. You will purchase a Prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).
At April 2018, a three month PPC is £29.10 – this will save you money if you need more than three prescribed items in three months. A 12 month PPC is £104.00 – this will save you money if you need more than 12 prescribed items in a year.
PPCs are available by ten monthly direct debit instalment payments. For more details and how to apply visit www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts or call the PPC order line on 0300 330 1341.
If you have a low income, you may be able to get help with prescriptions and other NHS costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). Visit www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/low-income-scheme for more details, or call 0300 330 1343.
If a person is terminally ill and expected to live for six months or less, they can obtain Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment immediately. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will fast-track the application.
Talk to your GP or consultant and ask them to complete a medical form called DS1500. The form is then sent to DWP with the claim form for AA. PIP is claimed by phone. A carer, family member, friend or professional can claim on another person’s behalf.
Universal Credit is a payment that is meant to help with living costs for those who have a low income or are out of work.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages. Whether you can claim, depends on where you live and your personal circumstances. It will replace the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
If you already receive any of these you don’t need to do anything until you hear from the Department for Work and Pensions about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a change in circumstances.
The amount you’ll get depends on your circumstances and income. It can include support for housing, children and childcare, if you’re disabled or have a health condition or if you care for someone with a disability.
It’s paid monthly and can be paid whether you are working or not, although your payment will gradually reduce as you earn more. You can find out whether you could be eligible for Universal Credit by using Citizens Advice eligibility checker.
If you want to apply for Universal Credit you have to apply online. You have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together. After you apply, you must contact your local Jobcentre Plus within seven days to make an appointment with a work coach.
There’s lots more information online, including details of how much you might be eligible for – visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit
The government website – www.gov.uk/browse/benefits – has detailed information about a wide range of available benefits.
For general disability information you can call the charity Scope on 0808 800 3333.
If you have a consumer issue, for example with your energy provider, you can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0345 404 0506. Calls to the helpline cost up to 9p per minute from a landline. If you’re calling from a mobile, it’ll cost between 3p and 55p per minute – if you have inclusive minutes, it’s the same as calling a landline.
For energy saving advice, you can call 0300 123 1234 in England and Wales or, if you live in Scotland, Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.