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"DLA & You"
Disability Living Allowance
Member Name: Trevor15
Disability Living Allowance
Date: 19/07/01, updated on 11/08/01 (16913 review reads)
Disadvantages: Claim form
In my work I come across many people who are not scroungers, preferring to subsist on a tiny nest-egg that they may have built up over the years, rather than claim any money from the 'State'. It can be quite difficult to get across that they are entitled to this money and that it really isn't a handout. It's just a monetary benefit that will make life a little easier until circumstances change (if applicable). Even then it can be like an exercise in linguistic gymnastics to convince some people.
But not everyone knows about the welfare benefits that they may be entitled to, particularly those who are more vulnerable due to a medical condition. Let's face it, the Government are not really going to go out of their way to part with money - regardless of inadequate and timid advertising. After all, they need our tax monies to spend hideous sums on building a Dome that nobody wanted or liked. What's the price of a disabled person's quality of life when compared to an extravagant fireworks display at the end of the year. Don't get me started on that!
Right, down to business.
What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?
DLA is a welfare benefit paid to individuals who are experiencing temporary or more longer-term disabilities. It is paid from Central Government funds and is not based on your National Insurance contributions. There are two components: Mobility and Care. The former has two tiers and the latter has three. Any award is based on the severity of a disability. A successful claim requires that the condition has been present for three months prior to claiming and likely to last for at least si
x months. (Unless terminal).
***Who is entitled?***
Anyone under 65 (Children have added criteria to meet. More later) who has a disability, is resident in the UK and has care and/or mobility needs. There are other criterion to fulfil such as immigration status. . .
***Benefit Amount per week?***
High Rate £55.30 - Paid to someone who needs frequent care throughout the day and during the night or who is terminally ill.
Middle Rate £37.00 - Paid to someone who needs significant care throughout the day or night
Low rate £14.65 - Paid to someone who needs help cooking a main meal/needs help for a significant part of the day.
High Rate £38.65 - Someone needing more active and general supervision than the lower component.
Low Rate £14.65 - Paid to someone who cannot walk outdoors without guidance or supervision.
***How are care & mobility needs defined?***
The law defines what these needs are but the interpretations are constantly changing as they are challenged in court. Far from being restricted, the criteria is enlarging all the time. Therefore 'interpretation' is the key word. But for now, here's what the law says:
A person needs care if s/he needs help with bodily functions, eating, washing, taking part in social activities. . . and/or
needs supervision to prevent being a danger to him/herself of others; and/or
needs help in preparing and cooking a main meal; and/or
is terminally ill
Cannot walk outdoors or go on an unfamiliar route without guidance or supervision for most of the time. . .; or
is unable to walk or has difficulty walking; or
has had an amputation or physical disability since birth; or
is blind and deaf and needs someone to help outdoors; or
has severe learning difficulties and can behave very disruptively
It does not matter if there isn't anyone providing care or attention, only if the person would benefit if someone was*****
Some people are put off from claiming because they believe that they are not 'disabled', using their own terms of reference for a definition. The word 'disabled' for DLA is vast. For example, someone with ME may not believe that s/he is disabled, but for the purpose of DLA she may be. The condition is almost irrelevant, it is the effects of that condition on the person that counts.
Likewise, someone suffering from intermittent depression may not have any obvious physical incapacity and therefore conclude it is not a benefit for him/her. This is incorrect as the effects of depression must be looked at laterally. For example:
Mr A has suffered from depression for many years. While crossing the road he experiences a sudden pang of extended lethargy. He is not concentrating on the road, has no interest of the road and therefore may not see the car coming around the corner and consequently the threat to his life.
Perhaps he is prone to forgetting his prescribed medication, treatment which curtails the extremes of his condition. This may make him more introspective, forgetting to wash, to eat. . .again, if he had someone around to remind him, the possibility of harm is reduced. In this instance Mr A would require both care and mobility; the level of benefit being dictated by the severity of the condition. Lateral thinking.
But remember, a successful claimant does not need to have someone with him/her only to benefit if s/he did. (Yeah, it takes some thinking about).
Mrs B suffers from terrible arthritis in her hands. Therefore she cannot turn taps, hold heavy objects or grip. Otherwise she is perfectly healthy. But for the purposes of DLA she would need someone with he
r for most of the day: to eat (can't grip crockery), to bathe (can't turn the taps) , etc. perhaps she requires medication during the night for her arthritis. Who is going to grip the bottle, turn the lid and serve the medication? Who will help her to the loo in the night? What happens if the bedclothes fall off - Mrs B can't rescue them because of her hands. Therefore she requires assistance during the day and the night. Effectively, constant attention.
Do you see how it is necessary to look beyond the obvious in order to see the broader picture? In my experience people are likely to underestimate the effects of their condition (on the whole) rather than look at it in the cold light of day. But DLA is designed for this; that's the whole purpose of the benefit.
***Claiming & processing DLA***
If you do intend to claim, telephone the Disability Benefit Line for a claim form (details below). By doing so and supposing your claim is successful, benefit will be backdated from when you telephoned. If you just pick up a form from your local agency then it will not.
As some conditions fluctuate, pay attention to the instructions on the claim form where it states that the form should be completed as if you were describing one of your worst days.
The application form is a nightmare! 3 booklets of A4 size that require very intimate details of your daily life. Some of the questions are ambiguous and in some areas, duplicated. Don't be tempted to minimise the information you include, chances are if you do that you will be denied benefit. Instead, keep a diary (or get someone to do it for you). In this diary list everything that is restrictive about your condition, from when you get up to when you go to bed.
Once you've got your diary, use this as a template to fill out the application form. No one knows your condition and its effects better than you do. If you are going
to fill out the form yourself (which, unless you have some prior specific experience to this benefit I would advise against. See below for help.) then allow a good 2 - 4 hours to complete it. If you miss anything out attach as many sheets as you need to explain your condition in-depth.
Once you have done your stuff it is time to pass it on to your Doctor for his/her confirmation of your condition and medication.
Once they receive your claim form at the DLA unit they will more than likely arrange for one of their Doctors to visit you at home. If so, make sure s/he knows everything about your condition and the effects thereof. Once the medical report is submitted and the details on your claim form verified, a decision will be made about benefit. The chances are very good that you will be turned down at this stage (based on experience), receiving a letter with some gobbledegook about benefit legislation and 'not qualifying'. It is important at this stage to pay close attention to the time limit for appealing that decision.
If you do need to appeal, write and say so - - immediately but request that a decision not be made until you receive a copy of all the documentation held about you on file, and until you have had time to respond to that. This documentation will include a copy of the DLA's doctor's report and other information held about the claim. (There are some exceptions about certain medical information being given to you). Read this documentation carefully, checking everything that has been written about you. If you disagree with any of the medical reports say so - in detail and explaining why you disagree. Send this back and then wait. If it is still negative there are other options available and these will be detailed on the correspondence.
***Children & DLA***
DLA is the same for children with the exceptions:
In order to claim the mobility component of DLA, the minimum age for ch
ildren is 5.
For both the components an added criteria also needs to be met:
"her/his needs are substantially in excess of the normal requirements of children her/his age; or s/he has substantial care, supervision or watching over needs which younger children in normal physical or mental health may also have but which children of her/his age and in normal physical and mental health would not have"
Again, look at the needs laterally!
For a claim form: 0345.123456 (The code may have be changed/ing)
The DLA unit has a dedicated team of staff to help you complete the claim form over the telephone. 0800.882200
There are many, many agencies who will help with completing the claim form and helping with appealing if necessary. If you are fortunate to be offered such help, my advice would be to take it. Log on to www.adviceguide.co.uk for agencies in your area.
I've tried to give you a quick overview of DLA, to provide any more detail would be overwhelming for the uninitiated. Please bear in mind that this op is not designed to be a comprehensive guide to the benefit, for that you need individual advice peculiar to your circumstances and country. Nor have I covered all exceptions to those not able to claim. Just treat this op as a pointer and if you think you may qualify, then seek further help.
I would strongly advise you to obtain assistance with the application though, as a successful claim has positive effects on other welfare benefits. You may miss out if you are not aware of them.
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