Welfare Rights Issues

Our Spinal Life Scotland Magazine includes a regular article on welfare issues from Digby Brown’s resident Welfare Right Advisor. Below are some recent articles. Please get in contact if with us if you have any question about Welfare Rights Issues by phone 0800 0132 305 or 0141 427 7686 or by email on info@sisonline.org

What is Carer’s Allowance?
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. It is paid at £61.35 a week (2014/15 rate). You do not have to have paid National Insurance contributions to qualify for Carer’s Allowance. It is not a means tested benefit based on you and your partner’s income and savings. However, there is a limit on how much you can earn and still be entitled to claim Carers Allowance.
Carer’s Allowance is taxable. However, carers will only have to pay tax if they have other sources of taxable income such as an occupational pension or earnings. Carer’s Allowance on its own is below the threshold for paying tax.

Who can claim Carer’s Allowance?
Not every carer can get Carer’s Allowance. You may be eligible if you meet all the following conditions:
• You look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit such as Disability Living Allowance (middle or high rate), Personal Independence Payment (Daily Living component), Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
• You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week
• You are aged 16 or over
• You are not in full-time education
• You earn £102 a week (after deductions) or less
• You satisfy UK residence and presence conditions
If you meet the above conditions but already receive certain earnings replacement benefits (including State Retirement Pension), then the amount of Carer’s Allowance you may be entitled to will be affected.

Protecting your National Insurance record
Your National Insurance record is used to work out your entitlement to some state benefits, eg State Retirement Pension or contribution based Employment and Support Allowance. If you have to take a break from working to look after someone you may be worried about what will happen to your National Insurance record and any future pension. When you receive Carer’s Allowance you are automatically awarded a National Insurance credit which will protect your record. Credits can also count towards Bereavement Benefits for your spouse or civil partner.
Carers who do not receive Carer’s Allowance need to claim the Carer’s Credit by contacting the Carer’s Allowance Unit.
If you get Carer’s Allowance you do not need to claim Carer’s Credit as your pension is already protected.

How do I make a claim?
You claim Carer’s Allowance by applying to the Carer’s Allowance Unit of the Department of Work and Pensions:
• Visit www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/how-to-claim if you want to apply online or download a claim form
• Call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321 (text phone 0345 604 5312) to request a claim pack

When to claim
If you claim Carer’s Allowance within three months of the person you care for getting a decision about their Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allowance (AA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Carer’s Allowance will be paid from the date these benefits were awarded (as long as you meet the conditions for the whole period). If your claim is made after this you should tell DWP on your claim form if you want your claim to be backdated. Claims can only be backdated three months and you must have met all of the conditions for the whole period.

Carer Premium
If you qualify for Carer’s Allowance and you are receiving a means tested benefit you will be entitled to a carer premium added to that benefit. (If you are receiving Pension Credit this premium is called a Carer Addition and in Universal Credit it is called a Carer Element). To claim this premium you should tell the department paying your benefit that you have been awarded Carer’s Allowance. If you cannot receive Carer’s Allowance because you already have another earnings replacement benefit you will be told you have ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance. This ‘underlying entitlement’ also qualifies you for a carer premium.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
This is a new benefit for adults of working age with long-term health problems or disabilities that need help getting around or with ‘daily living activities’. It has now replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64. DWP will gradually move people with DLA over to the new PIP.

Who can get a PIP?
You can get PIP if you:
• are aged 16 to 64 and satisfy the residence conditions
• satisfy the daily living or mobility test. You must have needed help for at least three months before and nine
months after your claim unless you are terminally ill – then you can get help straight away.
You can receive PIP whether you are in or out of work. Whether you can get PIP and how much you get is based on your ability to safely and reliably carry out a range of daily living or mobility activities.

Help with daily living activities
This assessment looks at your ability to undertake the following ‘daily living activities’:
• preparing food and taking nutrition
• managing therapy or monitoring a health condition
• washing and bathing
• managing toilet needs or incontinence
• dressing and undressing
• verbal communication
• reading and understanding signs, symbols and words
• engaging with others
• making budgeting decisions

Help with mobility activities
This assessment is based on your ability to plan and follow a journey and looks at how you move around. You should qualify for the mobility component if your ability to undertake ‘mobility activities’ is limited or
severely limited.
Activities have points values and you need to score a certain number of points to qualify for PIP.

How to claim PIP
You need to contact the DWP by telephone to register. If you cannot make a claim over the phone, a friend or family member can contact the DWP for you but you need to be there too as the DWP may want you to authorise the person phoning for you.
A claim form needs to provide information about your disability or health problem. It is important to give as much information as you can about how your disability affects you so that you give the DWP a clear picture of how you manage day to day. If you use aids or adaptations, a walking stick, shower seat or adapted cutlery for example, make sure you provide information about this as you can score points in the assessment if you use an aid or appliance.
First time claimants will also have to attend a face-to-face medical assessment to get PIP.

How much PIP will I get?
The daily living and mobility components are both paid at two rates – standard or enhanced. If your claim is successful, you may get just one component or both components.
PIP awards will be reviewed more regularly than DLA claims were.

Effect of PIP on other benefits
Like DLA, you can get PIP even if no one is giving you the help you need and you live alone. It is not taxable and is paid on top of any other money, benefits, pensions and savings you already have.
Getting PIP may mean that your other benefits increase. Get advice for further information.

When will existing DLA claimants be affected?
Most existing DLA claimants won’t be affected until October 2015, when they will start to be invited to claim PIP and be reassessed. The DWP expects to have contacted everyone by 2018.
From 28 October 2013, people living in some areas of the UK who were getting DLA began to be reassessed for PIP if they were in one of the following groups:
• people who report a change in their condition
• people whose award is due to end on or after 17 March 2014
• young people who reach age 16 on after 7 October 2013

The Government is gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for disabled people aged between 16 and 64. People who are awarded the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of PIP will qualify for the Motability scheme in exactly the same way as they did with DLA. However, because PIP is a new benefit with different
criteria to DLA, some disabled customers may not qualify for mobility support, or may do so at a lower level, meaning they are no longer eligible to use the Motability scheme through no change in their own circumstances.
A one-off transitional package of support and advice regarding alternative mobility arrangements has been made available to assist those customers who have to leave the scheme as a result of being reassessed for PIP.
Below you will find some commonly asked questions about what happens if you find you are no longer eligible for the Motability scheme.
What happens if I am not entitled to the Enhanced rate of PIP?
DWP will write to you and to the Motability scheme to advise that you are no longer eligible for the scheme.
You may be entitled to help from the Motability transitional support package though.
What will happen to my car and what are the timescales?
DWP will continue to pay your existing level of DLA for four weeks after their decision that you do not qualify
for the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of PIP. Motability will write to you with details of how to return
your vehicle. You will be able to keep the car for a maximum of 21 days after the DLA payments stop. It is very important that the car is returned within 21 days of the DLA payments stopping or you will not qualify for the one-off transitional support package.
What is the transitional support package? How much financial support can I expect as a car customer?
If you first became a Motability scheme customer before January 2013 and return the car to the dealership in good condition and within 21 days of the DLA payments stopping, you will be eligible for a one-off £2,000 transitional support package.
If you first became a Motability scheme customer in 2013, or you rejoined the scheme during this period following at least a one year break, and return the car to the dealership in good condition and within 21 days of the DLA payments stopping, you will be eligible for a one-off £1,000 transitional support package. The reduced amount is because information on the Government’s plans for PIP has been publicly available since 2013. If you became a customer after January 2014, or you rejoined the Scheme during this period following at least a one year break, you will not be eligible for transitional support or payments. However, if you return the car to the dealership in good condition and within 21 days of the DLA payments stopping you will be eligible for the standard £250 which is line with the Motability general policy for ending your contract early.
Am I able to buy my current car, and if so, how much will it cost?
It is possible to buy the car. Motability will provide you with a quote. The transitional support package that you would otherwise have received when returning the vehicle, will be taken off the cost of buying the car. If I apply for PIP in the future and am
successful, will I need to pay this money back? As it is a one-off support package to help with the transition from the scheme you will not need to pay this back if you are later awarded PIP. However, if you decide to rejoin the scheme within six months of receiving the transitional support package, you will need to speak to Motability to discuss your options.
Further detailed information can be found at: www.motability.co.uk