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It's for your benefit

Introduction

There are a number of benefits available to help people affected by hemiplegia and to lessen the impact that having the condition can have on the cost of living.

The benefits system is not simple; at times it can seem downright baffling. But there are places and people you can talk to make sure you’re claiming what you are entitled to. Often being eligible for one benefit will mean you can get others. For example, DLA (or PIP) is the gateway benefit for other support including help buying adapted cars if you get the higher mobility component, or assistance while studying. Some extra tax credits are available if you get Income Support. So it’s really important that you apply for everything you’re eligible for.

Acknowledging that there are bad days

Sitting down to write about how hard things can be isn’t going to be a pleasant experience, particularly when we are used to making the best of things and being positive. It may feel horrible to focus on what your child, or young person, can’t do when you spend all your time encouraging them, but it’s really important that you tell the assessor about the bad days, when things are really difficult, the worst day possible. If you don’t you might miss out on support that will make a real difference to your everyday lives.

There is support available to help with the application process. There are helplines you can call to speak to people who will understand what you have to deal with and can advise you on what you need to include. Local support services will be able to provide you with information about your specific area, which will be helpful if you are in a PIP area. You’ll also find a wealth of information online to help with your application and, if you don’t get the answer you should, the appeals process.

What are you entitled to?

The benefits and financial support system is complex and it can be difficult to work out what you can apply for. You may find it useful to use a benefits calculator to see what you are entitled to. They can also help you find out how to claim or how a change in circumstances, like starting or stopping work, could affect what you get. The following calculators are independent, anonymous and free to use:

The financial help you can get will depend on a number of things, including age, income and whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. The main benefits and some other useful sources of support and information are listed below.

Disability living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance is the main benefit for children living with a disability or a condition. It helps to pay for the day-to-day necessities that cost more.

It’s for children who:

  • are under 16
  • have difficulty walking or need more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability

The DLA is a tax-free benefit made of two parts – a care component and a mobility component. They are paid at different rates depending on your assessment and you may get one or both.

You can find out more about eligibility, rates and how to claim on gov.uk

Citizens Advice Bureau also has information and advice and HemiHelp provides information to help you fill out the DLA forms.

For children over 16, DLA is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment helps with the extra costs of long-term health conditions or disability. Like DLA it has two parts – a daily living component and a mobility component. An assessment will decide what you are entitled to.

You can find out more about eligibility, rates and how to claim on gov.uk. There is also a quick guide and an extensive guide for assessors which you may find helpful to look at when you’re applying.

The roll out of PIP started in 2013 and is due to be completed in 2017. Some people will still get DLA, it depends where you live. You can use the PIP checker to see whether you live in an area where it is available.

There have already been a number of changes to the process so do make sure that you have up-to-date information. Disability Rights UK and Contact a Family provide detailed information about PIP and there are helplines that will be able to provide you with the latest information about PIP, how and when to apply.

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is for people who are looking after someone with a health condition or impairment. It’s paid weekly. To be eligible you must be:

  • 16 or over
  • spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
  • not in full time education or studying for 21 hours a week or more
  • earning no more than the threshold (this is after you’ve paid taxes, for care costs while you’re at work and half of any pension payments)

You can find out more about eligibility including how much you can earn, rates and how to claim on gov.uk.

Carers UK have more information, as do Citizens Advice Bureau.

Employment Support Allowance

Employment support Allowance provides disabled people with:

  • financial support if you are unable to work
  • personalised support to help you get into work if you’re able to

You can find out more about work capability assessments and how to claim on gov.uk. You can get more advice on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

SEN Support and EHC

Children, and adults up to the age of 25 in some circumstances, can be entitled to extra support at school, like speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy or support from an educational, neurological or clinical psychologist. These could be available if you have special educational needs (SEN) that affect your ability to learn. There may be issues with:

  • social, emotional or behavioural difficulties
  • their ability to socialise or make and maintain friendships
  • reading and writing
  • being able to understand, process or remember things
  • concentration or attention levels
  • physical needs or sensory impairments

You can find out more about what help is available and who to talk to about it on gov.uk.

Where you live will affect what you are entitled to. In England, SEN statements are changing to Education, Health and Care plans (EHC). HemiHelp has a useful overview of the reforms with further sources of information, as well as information about what is happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Disabled Students Allowance

In England, higher education students with a disability can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance. You can apply if you meet the definition of disability in the Equalities Act 2010 and you have a:

  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difficulty like dyslexia

You can find out more about the support you might be entitled to and how to apply on gov.uk.

Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit

You will get Child Benefit for each child that lives with you and you’re responsible for if they’re:

  • under 16
  • under 20 and in approved education or training
  • you and your partner earn less than the threshold

You may also be able to get Child Tax Credit. You don’t need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit and it doesn’t affect your Child Benefit, but it does depend on your circumstances.

There is more information on Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit on gov.uk.

Citizens Advice Bureau also has advice on Child Benefit and Child Credit.

Working Tax Credit

You could get Working Tax Credit if you’re aged from 16 to 24 and have a child or a qualifying disability, or if you’re 25 or over with or without children.

You must:

  • work a certain number of hours a week
  • get paid for the work you do or expect to do
  • have an income below a certain level

There is more information about how to apply and eligibility on gov.uk and advice on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

You can use the tax credit calculator to see if you are eligible for tax credits.

Income Support

You may be able to get Income Support if:

  • you and your partner have no income or a low income
  • you’re working less than 16 hours a week
  • you’re not receiving any unemployment benefits

The amount you get depends on your specific circumstances. You can claim Child Tax Credit if you claim Income Support and have children.

Gov.uk has more information about how to apply by telephone and more about eligibility.

There is more advice and information on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

Housing benefits and council tax support

If you’re on a low income and pay rent you might be able to get housing benefit to help you pay your rent and a reduction in your council tax.

Citizens Advice Bureau has more information and Shelter can provide advice.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new, single, monthly payment that will eventually replace a number of the existing benefits mentioned above, such as Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit and the income-related Employment and Support Allowance. Universal Credit is being introduced in stages and you will be told when it will affect you.

There is more information on gov.uk and Citizen’s Advice Bureau can give you advice on the changes.

Help with transport costs

Depending on what financial support you get, and at what rate, you may be eligible for:

Help with other costs

There are also other sources of support out there, depending on your individual circumstances

  • Your local council has a duty to provide you with support if you have a disabled child. They may be able to offer you help with caring, holiday play schemes, short breaks or respite, funding for aids and adaptations and paying for hospital visits. The social services team at your local council will be able to tell you more.
  • A disabled facilities grant might be available from your local council if you need to make any adaptations to your home including installing ramps, making changes to your bathroom or making fixtures and fittings easier to use. Get Kids Going and Whizz Kids both provide mobility equipment, including trikes.
  • Get Kids Going also support children who want to play sports.
  • A CEA card will entitle a carer to a free cinema ticket if they go with a disabled child or adult. There is a very small fee for the card but it’s great value.
  • You may be able to apply for grants for specific costs for education or independent living. Directory for Social Change,Turn 2 Us and Cerebra have databases that you can search to find grant providers. Family Fund provides grants to low income families and you can apply to on their website. HemiHelp has a list of grant providers, including funds available for musical instruments and smaller items.

Local support and helplines

Your local council will be able to provide you with more information about the support available in your area:

There are organisations that have directories that you can search to find services in your area:

Helplines are also a good place to start if you need help or information:

  • The HemiHelp Helpline provides information on all aspects of living with hemiplegia for anyone affected on 0845 123 2372 (Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm)
  • Scope has a disability information line on 0808 800 3333
  • Contact a Family provides information and advice on any aspect of caring for a disabled child on 0808 808 3555
  • Disability Rights UK has two helplines, one for independent living on 0300 555 1525 and one for disabled students on 0800 328 5050

The government also has a number of helplines. Check the website to find the relevant number for your queries and local area:

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