Benefits and Support
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
This replaces both Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Income Support (IS) paid on the grounds of ill ‘health or disability. You may qualify if hearing loss/deafness or disability means you’re not working (or working fewer than 16 hours a week). To apply, you must be of working age and complete a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which determines whether you have a limited capacity for work and/or work-related activity. If you currently receive IB or IS, you will be contacted between now and April 2014, and be asked to take part in a WCA.
England, Scotland and Wales
ESA: call 0800 055 6688 (telephone) or 0800 023 4888 (text phone). Or, for a claim form, contact Job centre Plus on 0800 055 6688 (telephone) or 0800 023 4888 (text phone).
ESA: call 0800 085 6318 (telephone) or 0800 3283419 (text phone). An adviser will go through the form with you and fill in the form.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
This replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA). It is a cash benefit for people aged 16-64, to help cover extra costs arising from a long-term medical condition or disability.
If you currently receive DLA, you don’t need to take any action yet. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to you, and invite you to apply for PIP. Unless your circumstances change, it’s unlikely that this will be before October 2015.
You will be unaffected by the changes if you were over 65 on 8 April 2013, or if you receive Attendance Allowance. If you’re under 16, you’ll continue to receive DLA until your 16th birthday – then you will need to claim PIP.
Like DLA, PIP is paid regardless of any income or savings you have. It isn’t taxable and you can choose how to spend it. There are still two components – ‘Daily Living’ and ‘Mobility’. You can claim PIP whether you’re in or out of work, and it’s linked to getting other benefits (such as Carer’s Allowance – see below).
Unlike DLA, PIP eligibility is based on a different set of qualifying criteria, and requires a medical assessment from an independent health professional. There are two rates of payment with PIP (unlike the DLA’s three). PIP will also be regularly reviewed, even if you are permanently disabled.
After the initial application, the impact of your hearing loss, and any other health conditions or disabilities, will be assessed by a health professional in relation to 12 everyday activities. Points are awarded according to need. You need to score eight points to qualify for the standard rate of PIP, and 12 points for the enhanced rate.
Ultimately, the DWP, not the health professional, decides if you are eligible.
The government hopes to reduce spending on benefits in general, so qualifying for
these benefits will be harder. Many see the introduction of PIP as a step backwards, rather than forwards.
England Scotland and Wales: you first need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions new claims telephone service. Call 0800 917 2222 (telephone) or 0800 917 7777 (text phone).
Northern Ireland: PIP is replacing DLA for new claims from spring 2014. Visit www.nirdirect.gov.uk
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)
DSA is available to students in higher education (typically, post-18 learning at university/college). They are paid on top of other student finance, and don’t have to be repaid. To apply for DSAs, you can contact
- England – Student Finance England
- Wales – your local authority (you can find contact details at www.wales.gov.uk)
- Scotland – Student Awards Agency for Scotland
- Northern Ireland – Student Finance NI
You may qualify for a Disabled Person’s Railcard. You have to pay a small amount each year, but you will get a third off most rail journeys. Visit www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk or call 0845 605 0525 (telephone) or 0845 601 0132 (text phone) for more information.
Carer’s Allowance (CA)
You may be able to claim if you are a carer
for at least 35 hours a week. You cannot be in education for more than 21 hours per week, nor earn over a certain amount, if you’re in work.
The government is making changes to the existing benefits system. Some of these changes are being rolled out in stages, starting with new applicants, so if you currently receive benefits, you may not be affected immediately.
Call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321 (telephone) or 0845 604 5312 (text phone).
For a claim form, call 0800 22 06 74 (telephone) or 0800 24 37 87 (text phone).
Attendance Allowance (AA) England, Scotland and Wales:
If you are aged over 65, you can claim AA if you have a disability that affects your everyday life. To make an online claim, visit www.gov.uk
For a claim pack, call 0845 712 3456 (telephone) or 0845 722 4433 (text phone).
Northern Ireland: to make an online claim, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk
For a claim pack, call 028 9090 6178 (telephone) or 0800 243 787 (text phone).
For support with benefit applications, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau
(NCIUA acknowledges the help of Action for Hearing Loss (AfHL) in compiling this page)