Sickness & Disability Benefits

Help, Advice and Assistance about Benefits
The following information is intended as a starting point to find out some of the benefits you might claim if you are affected by asbestos-related diseases. It is important to get impartial information and advice about all the benefits that you may be entitled to and also to understand how other monies and benefits may be affected. So that you can make an informed choice about these matters, seek early advice and assistance from SARAG, or an asbestos support group local to you, or an advice centre.

Statutory Sick Pay
This is paid and administered by the employer with the Inland Revenue. Your employer is required to pay Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks in any period of sickness lasting 4 days or more, unless you are no longer in their employment or your earnings are below the lower earnings limit for paying national insurance contributions. You will need to notify your employer promptly of any sickness.

Employment and Support Allowance
You can claim employment and support allowance (ESA) if you are under pension age and your ability to work is limited by ill health or disability. There are two types of ESA: Contributory ESA, which is linked to your national insurance contribution record, and Income-related ESA, which is means tested.

The initial assessment usually takes place over 13 weeks, but can be longer. During the assessment phase you will undergo a work capability assessment and a work focused interview.

The work capability assessment is intended to find out whether you have:

  • a ‘limited capability for work’, which focuses on the things you cannot do. AND
  • a ‘limited capability for work-related activity’, is used to decide whether you are placed in the support group of claimants or the work-related activity group. If you are terminally ill, you will be placed in the support group.

The work capability assessment will also carry out a ‘work-focused health-related assessment’ focusing on the things you can do.

The ‘limited capability for work’ test is used to see if you can stay on ESA. Points are scored based on your ability or inability to carry out a range of physical or mental health activities as appropriate.

You can get a claim form (ESA1) from your local DWP office or Jobcentre Plus.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
If you need help getting around or with personal care you can claim this benefit. You do not need to have someone looking after you to qualify. DLA is tax-free, it is not means tested, i.e. payment is not reduced because you have an income or savings, and you don’t have to have paid any national insurance contributions. It is almost always paid in full on top of other benefits. You have to be under age 65 to qualify.

There are two components to DLA:

  • care component – for help with personal care needs, paid at three levels;
  • mobility component – for help with walking difficulties, paid at two levels.

You will have needed help for 3 months and are likely to continue to need help for another 6 months. Claim on form DLA 1 from your local DWP office.

If you receive Disability Living Allowance and depending on your circumstances, other income and savings, you may also qualify for payment or increased payments of means-tested benefits such as Income Support, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.

Attendance Allowance
If you are over 65, and need help with personal care you can claim Attendance Allowance. You can claim this allowance if you live alone, you do not actually have to be getting any help. What matters is the help you need. It is not means tested, i.e. payment is not reduced because you have an income or savings and there are no national insurance tests. You must normally have needed help with personal care for at least 6 months. There are two rates:

  • higher rate paid if you need help both day and night;
  • lower rate if you need help either in the day or the night.

The rules for this allowance are very similar to those for Disability Living Allowance. Claim on form AA 1 from your local DWP office.

If you receive Attendance Allowance and depending on your circumstances, other income and savings, you may also qualify for payment or increased payments of means-tested benefits such as Income Support, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.

Terminal Illness
If you are terminally ill the benefit rules in many cases are relaxed. For Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance you, or someone on your behalf, can claim under the Special Rules if you are terminally ill. Your doctor or specialist nurse should be asked to complete a DS1500 report, which should be sent with the DLA or AA claim form to the DWP.

For Disability Living Allowance claims, ensure that all the questions relating to mobility are also completed if you also have problems or difficulties with walking and getting around.

When claiming under the special rules, the claim will be sorted out very quickly by the DWP. If you are already getting some DLA or AA you just write to the DWP for your existing award to be superseded in order to get the higher rate.

For Employment and Support Allowance under the special rules you will be exempt from the work related activity assessment and placed in the support group.

Carers Allowance
Carers Allowance is paid to someone who is looking after a person who is ill or disabled. You can qualify for this benefit if you fulfil the following requirements: If you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who receives either:

  • DLA care component (at the middle or higher rate); or
  • Attendance Allowance (at either rate); or
  • Constant Attendance Allowance (at one of the two higher rates) paid with industrial injuries disablement benefit, war pension, worker’s compensation or equivalent benefit.

AND

  • you are aged 16 or over;
  • you are not studying for more than 21 hours per week;
  • you do not earn more than a specified amount per week after deduction of expenses.

This allowance is not dependent on having paid national insurance contributions, and it is not means tested, i.e. payment is not reduced because you have an income or savings. This allowance is taxable.

Entitlement to Carers Allowance has an effect on means-tested benefits and payment of Carers Allowance may reduce the amount of means tested benefits that the disabled person themselves receive. It is important to seek advice and get information about this beforehand.

You can claim Carers Allowance over age 65 but it overlaps with retirement pension and you will be paid the highest benefit, not both.  Claim on form DS 700 from your local DWP office, or DS 700(SP) if you are in receipt of retirement pension.

Underlying Entitlement to Carers Allowance
If you qualify for Carers Allowance but are not able to receive a payment because of the overlapping benefit rules, it may still be worthwhile claiming Carers Allowance because you will establish that you have something called an ‘underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance’.

People who have an underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance, can have a carers premium included when working out means tested benefits like pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit for example.  This may mean you become entitled to means tested benefits, or entitled to an increase of any means tested benefits you are getting. Get advice about this from an asbestos support group or advice centre.

Income Support
You may be able to claim this means-tested allowance if your income and savings are below a certain level. You must be aged 16 – 59, work less than 16 hours per week and your partner less than 24 hours per week.

Income Support can top up your income or benefits to provide basic living expenses. The amount you get for example, depends on: how old you are; whether you have a partner; and or dependents; amount of savings; amount of other income or benefits. To claim Income Support, contact your local DWP office.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
You may be able to get help with your rent and council tax if you are on a low income and any savings are below a certain level. Housing Benefit & Council Tax Benefit are means-tested and you can claim if you are working, not working or retired. You can get more information and claim forms for from your local authority council office.

Pension Credit
Pension Credit is a means-tested entitlement for people aged 60 and over. It has two elements:

  • a guarantee credit for people aged 60 and over, which is calculated in a similar way to Income Support. People who are eligible for a guarantee credit will also get full Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
  • a savings credit for people aged 65 and over, which is intended to provide extra money for people who have saved.

You can claim Pension Credit through a telephone claim line on 0800 99 1234.