Navigating the benefits system can often be overwhelming and confusing, particularly when you are living with Motor Neurone Disease. That is why we offer a free and confidential Benefits Advice service.
We can help you by assessing your finances and making sure that you are making the most of the support available. If you do not know what you are entitled to claim, or if you are unsure whether you are receiving the right benefits, our skilled Welfare and Benefits Officers will aim to take this stress away by guiding you through the process.
Consultations with our Welfare and Benefits Officers can be arranged around your schedule, by either phone or email and, in some cases, we may be able to visit you at home too.
The service can be accessed at any time by contacting your MND Clinical Specialist.
If you have to leave employment, or you have reduced your hours because of your disability, there are a number of benefits you can claim.
If you are working, you might be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), paid by your employer. or if this has run out, you may be due New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
SSP is a flat rate state benefit payable by the employer from the fourth day of sickness. Entitlement to SSP depends on whether sufficient National Insurance contributions have been paid.
Some employers will pay normal pay during sickness. Others may deduct SSP from normal pay and yet others may pay SSP only. It all depends on what is in the contract of employment.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
New Style ESA is a contribution based disability benefit you will need to have been an employee or self-employed and paid National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years.
National Insurance credits can also count. Your (or your partner’s) income and savings will not affect how much ‘new style’ ESA you are paid.
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working-age who are on a low income. It replaces six existing means-tested benefits:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP is a benefit for people aged 16 or over and under State Pension age, who have a disability or health condition, and need help with daily living or getting around PIP has two parts - a daily living component and a mobility component.
PIP is a non-means tested benefit and is not affected by earnings, other income or savings
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. If you are looking after someone for 35 hours a week or more who is in receipt of Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or DLA (higher or middle rate), you may be eligible.
This is for people in receipt of the higher rate mobility element of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment – the scheme can provide a car, motorised wheelchair or scooter.
For more information, please check the Motability website, or call Motability on 0300 456 4566.
The Blue Badge scheme helps those with severe mobility problems who have difficulty using public transport to park close to where they need to go.
Charges for the Blue Badge scheme vary across Scotland
For more information, please check the UK government website website.
Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit for people aged 65 or over who require care or supervision, and have done so for at least six months, or who are terminally ill.
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit to give you some extra money in retirement if you are on a low income. It comes in two parts and you may be eligible for one or both parts
An award of this benefit may lead to additional assistance with your housing costs and council tax.
Special benefit rules for people with a terminal illness
If you are living with a terminal illness, your claim for certain benefits might be fast-tracked and paid at the highest rate. You will need to apply under the special rules.
The main benefits for people living with a terminal illness covered by the special rules are:
Who qualifies for these special rules?
If you are living with a terminal illness, your claim for certain benefits might be fast-tracked and paid at the highest rate.
This is usually if your death ‘can reasonably be expected’ within the next six months.
It is often very difficult to predict how long someone might live for. If your doctor or nurse hasn’t talked with you about how long you might live for, you can still ask them about supporting your claim under the special rules.
What if I live longer than six months?
If you live longer than six months following the claim, you can carry on claiming under the special rules. Awards are normally made for three years and will be looked at again after this time if you live longer than originally expected.
Following a death there can be many practical issues to deal with. This process combined with the emotional effects of bereavement can be very difficult to cope with.
Check what bereavement benefits you may be able to claim on the UK government website.
Bereavement Support Payment is a benefit available to some people whose spouse or civil partner dies on or after the April 2017. This benefit has replaced the 3 previous bereavement benefits.
Dawn Morton, diagnosed with MND in 2014
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