AFF receives a number of enquiries about entitlement to benefits. Karen Ross, our Health & Additional Needs Specialist, shares some things you need to know…

IF YOU’RE over 16 and still receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA), you will at some point receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) inviting you to apply for PIP – the Personal Independence Payments which have replaced DLA. On receipt of your letter you must send an application in for PIP, because you won’t automatically be transferred.

You don’t have to wait to be invited to apply for PIP, simply contact DWP and ask to transfer at any time.

The PIP assessment system is different to DLA. For PIP you’re awarded points for the daily living skills you have difficulty with. A number of claimants who were getting DLA have found they aren’t eligible for PIP under this new assessment system. Most claimants for PIP will also have to undergo a face-to-face assessment.

DLA for children

If you have a child under 16 years who has difficulty with walking or needs more care than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability, you can still claim DLA. Usually, your child must be living in the UK, another European Economic Area country or Switzerland when you make a claim, but there are some exceptions – including being an Armed Forces family.

Ruth’s story

When Ruth’s son turned 16, she applied for PIP. “Although I sent detailed supporting evidence, which stated my son wouldn’t be able to cope with a face-to-face assessment, either in a centre or at home, they insisted he attend,” she explained.

“We eventually took him along for assessment, but he wouldn’t participate and left. It wasn’t until I kicked up a fuss that a manager contacted me.

“She apologised and informed me that, on reviewing the evidence, my son shouldn’t have been asked to a face-to-face assessment and that the evidence was enough for them to agree the claim.”

Ruth advises anyone facing similar issues to persevere and ask to speak to someone senior.

Overseas assistance

AFF has received a few enquiries from families about claiming benefits whilst overseas, so we spoke to DWP to find out how the PIP assessment would work.

It told us: “Exportability rules would be followed and there wouldn’t be a deferred reassessment. The best possible evidence will be looked at from the claimant when considering the claim.”

Arrangements can be made for an assessment within the EU, but DWP also recognises that good medical evidence is often submitted by Defence Primary Healthcare practices and Service families tend to register with them. If this isn’t the case and you are under host nation medical care, then the paper-based assessment route should be followed, but you may be called by an assessor.

If you’re claiming DLA or PIP prior to heading overseas, you can continue to claim because DWP considers you ‘habitually resident’ in the UK.

Mandatory reconsideration

If you disagree with the outcome of a decision made about your or your child’s eligibility for benefits, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again.

This is known as mandatory reconsideration and must be done within one month of the date of the decision. You’re usually required to provide further or new evidence. Your decision letter will give more details.

Carer’s Allowance

If you’re over 16, care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and earn no more than £120 a week after tax and expenses, you may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. Universal Credit is replacing means-tested benefits for people of working age, so if you receive Carer’s Allowance you will get less Universal Credit. You may receive an extra sum, known as a carer amount.

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