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Managing debt when living with a disability

We explain how to deal with debt if you have a disability and show you where to get help if you need it.

Reducing your debt

It can be easy to push your debt concerns to one side, but as with anyone, ignoring the issue will only worsen the situation.

Although having a disability can make it particularly hard to tackle uncontrolled debts, especially if you have a low income, there are steps you can take to help address the problem.

If you are finding it hard to pay back your debts, the following may help:

Get in touch with your lenders

It is important that you contact your lender/s as soon as you get into difficulty.

They often help by renegotiating your borrowing and could reduce the money you need to pay back each month to a more achievable level. This may mean paying more in interest overall, but it can help make debts more manageable.

Determine your budget

Total up your weekly or monthly earnings, as well as any benefits you receive, along with everything you spend your money on during this period.

If the money coming in is less than your outgoings, identify non-essential areas where you can cut back your spending.

Determine how much you spend on your accommodation, utility bills, food and anything that relates to your disability; pay for these first and then see how much money remains for other items.

Avoid further debt

While further borrowing may seem attractive when you are not making ends meet, avoid taking out more money as it will only perpetuate your problems with debt.

The only exception is if you can consolidate your debts to make them cheaper (via a balance transfer for instance).

Carefully work out the cost and check your likelihood of getting approved before you apply. Avoid borrowing more before you do this.

Ask for help

Speaking with an impartial debt adviser will allow them to tailor a plan to your individual needs to help you clear your debts.

It is also important to seek advice on whether you are receiving all the financial assistance that you are entitled to. Organisations like StepChange or the Citizens Advice can help.

Financial assistance that may be available to you

If you are struggling with your repayments, you may be entitled to financial help to ease your debt problems.

This will depend on your circumstances and is assessed on a case by case basis, but you may be able to claim the following:

Personal Independence Payment

If you are not already claiming Disability Living Allowance, this payment is available for new eligible claimants to help with the extra costs related to disabilities and chronic health problems.

This is assessed based on your care needs and your mobility; you may receive payments towards one or both of these, either at a standard or enhanced level.

Employment and Support Allowance

If your disability prevents you from working, this benefit provides assistance; equally if you are able to work with your disability, you can receive money towards supporting this.

Benefits for industrial injuries

If you developed your disability as a consequence of a work-related accident, you may be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Attendance Allowance

If you're over the age of 65 and your disability means that you require care or supervision, you can receive money towards this.

If you receive Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and require daily care, you may be able to claim Constance Attendance Allowance.

You may be able to claim Income Support if you are not working or if you work less than 16 hours every week. You may be eligible for Working Tax Credit.

Avoiding debt is the best option but if this is not possible, taking the necessary steps to address problems with repayments early on allows you to regain control of your finances.