With thanks to Mark Upward, Advice Services Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council, for our second guest blog in Challenge Poverty Week.

Poverty and disability are unfortunately intertwined and ill-health can hugely damage a household’s life chances and finances.  People often experience greater costs due to their condition – clothing, travel, food and heating expenditure can be much higher for some. There are several ways in which people can reduce the impact of disability or ill-health on their finances but claiming benefits can be a complex area which is why welfare rights services exist to assist people navigate their way through the options.

There are some specialist services such as the Action Group and Grapevine that assist in meeting the needs of specific groups of people like those with a learning disability. The Advice Shop has a specialist service for people affected by cancer. Most people though, will be able to access a generalist welfare rights service that can help with every benefit.

Personal Independence Payment is the main benefit for people with a disability or long-term health condition. It does not matter how much you may earn or have in savings, PIP is paid on the basis of how much your condition impacts on your daily life.

For example, if a person has lost a limb, it is the impact of that loss that matters, not the loss itself. Some people can cook, walk, wash and work with minimal difficulty so PIP won’t be paid, while others who can evidence that their ability to carry out everyday tasks is impaired by their condition, will have an entitlement.

It is essential that a GP or other professional can provide confirmation of a person’s disability or health condition. Without this, the health assessment that is arranged by the DWP may not provide enough evidence to enable PIP to be awarded.

PIP payments range from £23.70pw to £152.15pw. The claim process can take around 9 months from initial claim to any payment being made.

If claiming Universal Credit then someone with a disability or serious ongoing health condition could be eligible for additional assistance up to £343 per month. Again, evidence of the condition is required so working with a healthcare professional is essential. The DWP work coach should agree with a person whether or not they are capable of any or limited ‘work-related activity’.

This can often be an area of dispute so its important that advice is sought if a person feels they are not capable of complying with DWP requirements.

People in receipt of Employment Support Allowance due to a disability or ill-health may get £114.10pw and be eligible for severe disability premium of up to £67.30pw. Changes to ESA have meant that this level of financial support is not available to new claimants.

The Benefit Cap does not apply when a person is in receipt of PIP or the ESA support component.

There are many other ways in which people with a disability of long-term health condition may get financial support so getting a full benefit check done will identify all possible entitlements.

To get information and advice on any welfare rights matters contact the Advice Shop:

0131 200 2360  Advice.shop@edinburgh.gov.uk  www.edinburgh.gov.uk/adviceshop