ALL ABOUT BENEFITS -MONEY!!

crazy-little-thing-called-moneyMONEY WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?

Further more detailed advice can be found by clicking the following links which are BLF and Benefits and Work both of these organisations have phone help lines which is very useful.

This is a basic guide to benefits for people living with a lung condition in England, Scotland and Wales. It was updated in February 2015

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 changed many benefits from April 2013. This guide contains an outline of –

The benefits that you may be entitled to if you:
• have care and/or mobility needs because of your lung condition;
• cannot work due to your lung condition;
• are thinking of giving up work because of your lung condition; or
• are caring for someone with a lung condition.
Each of the benefits listed below have different qualifying rules and conditions and can be divided into two main groups:
Means-tested or non-means-tested – if a benefit is means-tested it will take into account any other benefits or income you have.
Contributory or non-contributory – to qualify for some benefits you need to have paid a certain amount of National Insurance contributions.

Care and Mobility

Personal Independence payment (PIP)  PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults aged 16 to 64 who have difficulties or needs
with aspects of their daily life. It is non-means-tested and non contributory, and can be paid whether you are working or not. Like DLA, PIP has two components which are now called Daily Living Activities and Mobility Activities. If you are eligible you can be paid for either components or just one. There are two rates, standard and enhanced, and you will be assessed on a points system to decide which rate you qualify for. To qualify for the standard rate you need eight points, and for the enhanced rate you need 12 points. To qualify for PIP you must have had the difficulties or needs for three months before you can claim and must be likely to continue to have them for the next nine months.

The process for reassessing current DLA claimants will begin in October 2013 and should be completed by 2017. If you reached the age of 65 by 8 April 2013 your DLA claim can continue and you should not be reassessed for PIP.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) This is only available if you are claiming for a child under the age of 16 and satisfy the care and/or mobility criteria. You will need to show that your child has significantly more care needs than a child of the same age without any health problems. DLA has two components: a care element and a mobility element. To qualify for the mobility component your child must be at least three years of age.

I find the above a bit confusing so if you need any help with any of these rules and regulations you can receive it from the British Lung Foundation Helpline on 03000 030 555. Their specialist nurses and advisers are dedicated to answering your questions. OR http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/ this is a great site and you can obtain their phone number from the site.

Attendance Allowance
Attendance Allowance (AA) is a non-means-tested and non-contributory benefit paid to people aged 65 years and over who have personal care needs because of their lung condition. AA is paid at one of two rates, higher or lower depending on the level of problems you have. You must have had care needs for at least six months. There is no mobility payment with AA and any difficulties with mobility outside the home will not be
taken into account.

Special rules for terminally ill people
If a person is terminally ill and is not expected to live for longer than six months, under special rules, they can obtain Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence payment immediately. It’s a good idea to discuss with their GP or consultant. The GP or consultant will need to complete a DS1500 medical report form, which asks for information about diagnosis or treatment. The person claiming  should send the DS1500 form to DWP with the claim form for AA. PIP is claimed by phone. A claim can also be made on another person’s behalf by a carer, family member, friend or professional person. The person who is terminally ill doesn’t have to sign the claim form. They will simply be notified that they have been awarded the benefit and payment will be made to them.

Unable to Work
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
SSP is paid to employees who are unable to work because of sickness. SSP is paid by your employer for up to a maximum of 28 weeks and can be claimed back from the government by your employer. To be eligible for SSP you must meet certain conditions –
you must be working for your employer under a contract of service;
you must be earning above the earnings threshold, before tax and national insurance; and you must be sick for at least four days in a row.
Once SSP has ended, if you are still too sick to return to work, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) may be payable (see below)

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can be paid if you are too ill to work. You must go to a Work Capability Assessment while your ESA is being assessed. ESA’s financial support has two elements:
Contributory ESA, which will depend on National Insurance contributions (this may not be necessary in certain circumstances).
Income-Related ESA, which is the means-tested element. It does not depend on National Insurance contributions, but it can depend on how much household income you have. It is intended that this part of ESA will be replaced by Universal Credit. Within the first 13 weeks of your claim for ESA, your work capability should be assessed and you should undergo a work capability assessment. Usually you will have to travel to a centre to be assessed. After this assessment the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can place you in one of the following groups:
The work-related activity group, where you will be expected to try to find employment and have regular interviews with an adviser
The support group, where you will not be expected to look for employment as your illness or disability has a severe effect on your ability to work
If the DWP decides you are fit to work straightaway they can advise you to apply for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). By doing this you have to declare yourself fit for work. It is worth asking to speak to a Disability Employment Adviser at your local Jobcentre for specific guidance on applying for JSA. JSA is broken down into contribution-based and income-based allowance, and like income-based ESA, it is intended that income-based JSA will be replaced by Universal Credit.

The BLF helpline can give you more information, call 03000 030 555.

GOOD SITE TO HELP WITH YOUR BENEFITS – DEATHS LINKED TO ESA

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590 CLAIMANT DEATHS
Just yesterday, respected academics from Oxford and Liverpool universities published an article in an international, peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Their research shows that the reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants for ESA is linked to an additional 590 suicides in England.

It is also implicated in an additional 279,000 people developing mental health conditions and 725,000 more antidepressant prescriptions being issued.

The relationship between the use of the work capability assessment (WCA) and the rise in deaths was clear and the researchers were at pains to rule out other causes.

Any responsible body, even if they were doubtful of the findings, would have responded with concern and given an undertaking to look closely into the matter.

The DWP, however, instantly dismissed the research out-of-hand.

They know that they are the only people who could provide the data to prove beyond any possible doubt that the WCA is a killer. And they are never going to do that.

Instead, just as the tobacco companies argued for so many years that no causal link between smoking and cancer had been proved, the DWP argue that suicide is complex and you can’t definitively prove that the WCA causes any deaths.

And so the entirely avoidable deaths will continue.

ANOTHER CORONER IGNORED
And there’s more proof of the DWP’s callous disregard for claimants’ lives. Once again, it is campaigning journalist John Pring who has brought it to light.

In 2010, a coroner sent a ‘prevention of future deaths’ letter to the DWP in relation to a claimant with a mental health condition who had committed suicide after scoring zero points at his WCA. The claimant, Stephen Carre, had a community psychiatric nurse and a psychiatrist but they were never contacted by the DWP.

On receiving such a letter from the coroner, the law requires the recipient to respond within 56 days saying what they are going to do to prevent future deaths.

It now seems that the DWP simply wrote acknowledging receipt of the letter and then did absolutely nothing more, in flagrant breach of the la50 ways to challenge a PIP medical report coverw.

Not only that, they also withheld the fact of the coroner’s letter from Professor Harrington, the independent reviewer of the WCA. If the matter had been brought to his attention, it might have prevented the DWP from pushing ahead with the mass reassessment of all incapacity benefit claimants using the WCA.

And almost 600 people might not have taken their own lives.

50+ WAYS TO CHALLENGE A PIP MEDICAL
Moving on to another flawed assessment process, we have now updated our guide to the Best Possible Ways To Challenge A PIP Medical Report.

The guide includes more than 50 different ways to challenge the contents of your PA4 PIP Consultation Report Form. Many of the challenges include sample texts and just one of them may be enough to persuade a tribunal to attach little or no weight to the health professional’s evidence in your case. The guide has been updated to take account of changes since the last edition, both to the medical report form and to the way that health professionals collect evidence.

Used alongside our sample PA4 report form – released with the last newsletter – we think this is the best tool available anywhere for dissecting and disproving any inaccurate claims that the health professional has used to cast doubt on your claim.

Benefits and Work members can download the updated guide from the PIP page in the members only area of the site.

ONLINE PIP CLAIMS
The DWP have a team of people working to produce an online PIP claim form which will have an entirely different set of questions to the paper claim form.

Online claim forms are much cheaper for the DWP to process and Iain Duncan Smith has just agreed to cut his department’s running costs yet again, probably by over 20%.

It’s left us wondering if the DWP are planning to make claiming online mandatory for almost all PIP claimants. Especially as support is to be made available for claimants who could not complete an online claim without help. Might claimants even be forced to go to their local Jobcentre to claim if they don’t have access to a computer at home?

The DWP are currently looking for people to test their online claim system – though not to make an actual claim, just to try it out. If anyone gets onto the trial programme we’d be fascinated to hear more and see screenshots.

FACEBOOK
The Benefits and Work Facebook page has now passed 14,000 likes. Our Facebook page gives supporters a chance to discuss in detail issues that don’t always appear on the main site, as well as some that do.

As always, a big thank you to the volunteers at studiopookini.co.uk who run our Facebook page for us.

We also have over 7,000 followers on Twitter and we’re always happy to have more.

NEXT TIME
In our next edition we hope to have a response from the Information Commissioner about our challenge to the DWP’s refusal to give us information about the secret reviews into the deaths of 49 claimants.

We want to know how many of the reviews were into the deaths of ESA claimants who were on the work programme and who also had mental health conditions.

The DWP, unsurprisingly, don’t want to tell us.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison