Disability Living Allowance are you
to Disability Living Allowance:
don't have to be 'disabled' to claim disability living allowance, as Steve
Donnison and Holiday Whitehead explain.
living allowance (Disability Living Allowance) can make a big difference to people's lives. Awards
range from £15.15 to £97.15 a week. Receiving DLA can lead to additional
payments of benefits such as income support housing benefit, council tax
benefit and tax credits.
If someone provides care for you, your award of
DLA may also entitle them to claim carer's allowance. In addition,
Disability Living Allowance is
tax free and you can spend it on anything you want. Yet the government
have estimated that fewer than half of all those who are eligible actually
claim. Why should that be?
problem is the name. Many people with MS, for example, don't consider
themselves to be 'disabled' and so never consider claiming the Living
Allowance. In fact,
you don't need to be disabled. Thousands of people with long-term health
conditions get DLA simply because peeling vegetables is often difficult or
painful for them.
Other common misconceptions are that you can't get DLA
if you work, claim other benefits, have savings or haven't paid national
insurance contributions. In reality, none of these things matter.
if you're under 65 and your living with MS and it affects your day-to-day life, it's worth
looking into whether you could make a claim. (People of 65 or over can
claim a similar benefit called attendance allowance).
you be eligible?
To get an idea of whether you might be eligible, try this test. As a
result of your MS, or the medication you take, do you have difficulties
with one or more of these everyday activities:
outdoors alone in unfamiliar places
a cooked main meal for yourself
safe if you're alone
with other people
in and out of bed
having a bath or shower and looking after your appearance
dressed and undressed
and leisure activities.
with living can include: fatigue; stiffness; spasms; pain; severe discomfort; having
to take things very slowly or needing someone to keep an eye on you to
make sure you're safe. If you need reminding or encouraging to do things,
perhaps because of poor concentration, depression or anxiety, this also
the answer is yes, you do have difficulties with one or more of these
activities, then you may be eligible for DLA. Whether you actually receive
an award will depend on which activities you 'reasonably require' help
with (regardless of whether you get it or not), how often and how long for
each time. The detailed rules about who is entitled are complex and the
law changes frequently.
you think you might be eligible, you can get a claim pack by calling the
Benefits Enquiry line on 0800 882 200.
with your claim
The claim pack is a dispiriting 37 pages long. But, if you have access to
the internet, you can download and print off a very detailed guide to
filling it in from www.benefitsandwork.co.uk . The guide also tells you
more about how the qualifying conditions work.
addition, there are more than two thousand advice agencies around the UK
who may be able to help with form filling. These include:
Advice Bureau. To find out your nearest CAB, check your local phone
book under 'C' or visit www.nacab.org.uk
Information Advice Lines (DIAL's), staffed by disabled people. Call
01302 310 123 or visit www.dialuk.org.uk to find out if there's a DIAL
Independent Advice Centres. You can get information about local
centres from UK Advice on 0207 489 1800.
may be someone at your local MS Society branch who can help with form
filling and, in addition, share their experiences of claiming DLA with
you. If you need branch details, telephone the MS National Centre on
020 8438 0700. A local branch might also help with the emotional side
as the whole process of claiming DLA can be lengthy and depressing,
with no guarantee of success at the end of it.
Helpline. The Disability Rights Officer may also be able to help.
The DLA claim pack has a page devoted to each of the activities listed
above. When you're filling it in, try to give as much detail as possible.
Don't just say 'I get very tired.' Instead, explain what the fatigue feels
like, how long it lasts and how long you need to rest in order to recover.
Try to give examples of when you've had problems, e.g. when you overdid
something and your health suffered as a result. Also try to suggest a way
in which someone could help: 'If someone was with me they could help me
wash my back / pull on my underwear, socks and trousers / help me up out
you can get a letter of support from a health professional such as your
GP, neurologist or MS nurse, this can make a big difference. It's
important to keep your GP and / or MS nurse up to date with your
condition. Letters about the difficulties you face written by your
partner, friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues can also help.
may take several months before you get a decision on your claim. If you're
not happy with the result you can appeal against it. But do bear in mind
that your award can be reduced or taken away altogether at an appeal, so
get advice. Your chances of success, however, are good: more than 50 per
cent of all oral hearings end up with the claimant winning a higher award
Donnison is a freelance welfare benefits trainer and writer . A wide range
of free, downloadable, step-by-step guides to claiming disability and
incapacity benefits are available from Steve's website at www.benefitsandwork.co.uk
Holiday Whitehead is a practising barrister specialising in employment law
and welfare benefits. Details of her employment law training and
consultancy services to the voluntary sector can be found at www.holidaywhitehead.co.uk
This article is adapted from one which first appeared in MS Matters,
published by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
2003 Steve Donnison and Holiday Whitehead
The material on this web site is provided for information only and no
undertaking is given as to the accuracy of the information on this or
any linked site. You should always get individual advice about any legal
matter. The employment information on this site relates only to England
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