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Claiming disability benefits & financial support

Disability can mean both a drop in your income and an increase in the cost of living. This guide sets out how to claim disability benefits for help with your day to day costs.

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What disability support is available?

It sometimes seems the only thing keeping pace with reforms to welfare and disability benefits is the spiralling cost of living.

If anything that makes it even more important to know what state support is - and isn't - available.

Here, we take a look at what financial support is available and how to claim it.

Get ready, Get assessed, Go!

The disability benefits you qualify for and the amount you receive will be decided by your Social Care Assessment and/or your Work Capability Assessment.

This means the first step is getting assessed, if you haven't already:

If you're not happy with the outcome of either assessment (or both) make sure you challenge the results: Ombudsman figures show nearly 40% of appeals have led to an overturned assessment.

How to challenge your assessments

You can complain about your Social Care Assessment direct to your local authority, and if you need to carry the appeal further it will be arbitrated by the Local Government Ombudsman.

Work Capability Assessment complaints are dealt with differently. First, seek disability benefits advice from Citizen's Advice or another charity. Ultimately, your case may be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service. See the PCS website for step-by-step ATOS complaints.

Whether or not you choose to challenge, their results will directly influence your disability benefits rates and even which benefits you can claim.

What disabled benefits are you entitled to?

This section outlines the different types of disability benefits available UK wide. You may be able to claim some, or all of them depending on your personal circumstances.

This means it's worth the trouble to make sure the assessments listed above gives a fair representation of your disability - challenging them if need be.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP)

Personal Independence Payments are gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance across the UK.

PIP is paid tax free to disabled people aged between 16 and 64 years old, and goes directly into your bank account. You'll receive between £21.80 and £139.75 per week, depending on an assessment designed to determine your individual needs.

Children with disabilities

Children with disabilities or long term ill health will continue to receive Disability Living Allowance (rates between £21.80 and £139.75 per week) until their 16th birthday. Thereafter they will also move to Personal Independence Payments.

If you provide at least 35 hours of care for your child each week, you can claim Carer's Allowance if they receive the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance or they receive help with daily living for the Personal Independence Payment.

This is currently set at £62.10 weekly, but it is important to be aware that it is taxable and will not be paid if you earn more than £100 a week.

Attendance Allowance

If you are aged over 65 and need personal health and social care in your home, you can receive weekly Attendance Allowance at either £55.10 (lower rate) or £82.30 (higher rate).

The amount you receive depends on your Health & Social Care Assessment plan and will impact other benefits like Council Tax Reduction, Winter Fuel Payments and Pension Credits because the Attendance Allowance weighting will determine whether you're paid higher or lower rates.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit began to replace 6 different working-age benefits from October, 2013. Depending on your finances and employment circumstances, you may be able to claim Universal Credit in addition to disability-specific benefits.

Among these it will incorporate income-related Employment & Support Allowance for new claimants; while if you currently receive Incapacity Benefit, you will continue to do so.

Other UK disability welfare

Disability and sickness benefits that are set to remain outside Universal Credit include Council Tax Reduction, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, War Disablement Pension, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and Constant Attendance Allowance.

Finally, see the nidirect website for a full list of disabled benefits and financial aid available in Northern Ireland - it differs to the rest of UK. Northern Ireland joined Universal Credit in April 2014

Other financial help for people with disabilities

Although the financial support offered by central government is currently undergoing a shake-up, the scope of financial help available to you reaches far beyond benefits. It includes:

You may also be eligible for specific grants and/or assistance from both local and national charities depending on your condition, where you live and what you want to do. Search for disabled charities in your area via the Charity Choice website and use the Turn2us Grant Search to gauge what support is available.

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