Flash Says…

DLA – the gateway benefit

Posted on: 2011-01-08

[Crossposted to Where’s the Benefit? where I am one of the team]

The government’s proposed changes to DLA have been much reported – and you can see articles about why it matters on Flash Says and across the blogosphere, including Where’s the Benefit of course. The news that 20% of people will no longer qualify, and that the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will become harder to obtain than the existing system is a bitter blow to those who worked hard just to demonstrate their entitlement. Indeed, it is reported in the news today that the proposed change from DLA to PIP could breach human rights laws; the fight to save DLA goes on.

But I think there is one more important aspect to DLA that has been overlooked; it is a gateway to many other things.

By that I mean that the standards for mobility and care levels are fairly well defined; organisations which deal with disabled people and assess their need can simply look at the individual’s DLA award to understand what that person’s needs might be, rather than reinventing the wheel and creating their own assessment system. In many cases, receipt of DLA at a certain level provides automatic entitlement to other benefits and services.

For example, here are some useful schemes for which you would automatically qualify, if you get DLA at the levels specified

  • Disabled person’s railcard – Any mobility award, or higher or middle rate care
  • Warm Front scheme – a grant for heating and insulation work – Any DLA award
  • Disability Premium – extra money if you are on income-related benefits – Any DLA award, although middle or higher rate care entitles you to a higher amount, the “severe disability premium”

and the items below are awarded if you have a Higher rate mobility award:

  • Freedom Pass – free travel on London Transport
  • Blue badge
  • Taxicard – reduced fares on London taxis
  • Dial-a-Ride
  • Refund on road vehicle tax
  • Motability scheme
  • National bus pass (in Scotland, higher or middle rate care award also qualifies)

Indeed, it was reported in the Northern Echo this week that “claiming [Disability Living Allowance] not only benefits the recipient and helps stimulate the local economy, it also simplifies the Blue Badge process. This is because people are automatically entitled to a Blue Badge if they are in receipt of the higher rate of the Disability Living Allowance mobility component so don’t need medical evidence to show they have mobility problems and so there are fewer appeals against the refusal of the badge.”

Many other organisations use DLA as a method of determining entitlement – it is a simple way to demonstrate need, and it’s rather less embarrassing than asking someone’s medical history at the front desk. For example many museums, theatres and concert venues will allow a “carer” to enter with you for free. Waving your letter from the DWP can get you the help or concession that you need!

Glastonbury and other festivals also use DLA as a guide to need – for example, in order to access facilities such as disabled camping, accessible toilets and viewing platforms, as well as being permitted a free ticket for your personal assistant, you need to be in receipt of higher rate mobility, and/or middle or higher rate care DLA. (If you don’t claim DLA then you can always make your case to the access co-ordinator, but then provision is discretionary rather than automatic, which can make for a nervous few weeks until you hear whether your application is approved!)

I also haven’t heard anything about how the Motability scheme will operate after the demise of DLA. Over half a million people use the scheme and will be part way through a contract when the changes come into force. Will PIP be enough to fund Motability car hire? How about those whose award level is changed after a PIP medical assessment – how will they be able to afford the car, scooter or powerchair that they need?

When DLA is replaced with PIP, things are going to get complicated. After all, the government has stated that it wants to get 20% of people off this type of benefit, but those people’s needs won’t go away. They will be left with no easy way to demonstrate their level of disability. Organisations won’t have a clear understanding of what the relevant levels of PIP correspond with – at least, not straight away. Will old DLA letters be able to be used? For how long, until everyone is required to hold a PIP entitlement instead?

People may be up in arms at the thought of losing DLA, and frustrated at the thought of having to apply for a new benefit – but they should also be fearful of losing the many extra benefits that they use, with no easy route to prove their need once the DLA rug is pulled from under us all.

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13 Responses to "DLA – the gateway benefit"

its just a cost cutting excersie but the govement seems to think by taking that money away he is helping you sometimes i do wounder wether these are on highs when they bring these things out

The government does not care about people just about how to save money. IDS and his buddies only care about the £s and not about the people. They are not on a high, they are ignorant and too well off to see poverty on their doorstep.

i have been on dla higher rate for three years but my last letter said for an indeffinate period, what does this mean, and the thought of loosing my benefit is terrifying i simply cant make it alright because i physically cant go out to work, i cant even bathe or dress myself. When i was working i was proud of my input to society, i bought my house paid bills and paid for my childrens tuition, they all have good jobs, but now thanks to the government i feel like a complete failure, i would love to go to work, and meet people, but instead im stuck in bed on a load of morphine and diazipam, i dont have a life anymore but at least i can contribute to the household bills which are higher than normal as i need to be kept warm due to my imobility. Does the prime minister not see that we suffer enough as it is, and the worry of loosing our benefits just adds to the stress we are already under. A lot of people i have spoken to are considering suicide as they see themselves homeless or in care, The worry and anxiety are almost as unbearable as the dissability itself. I wish the pm would meet with me so i could explain what it is like to be on benefits when i could be earning a lot more and have a half decent standard of living. instead of just scraping by. also the medicals we have to endure and the forms we have to fill in are there to trick us, like can i pour out a glass of water and sit in a chair, yes i can do that somedays but mostly the water will end up spilt and i need help getting in or out of the chair, but that is not taking into account, i hope he gets voted out as instead of putting into the economy he is taking that much out we will be in a worse state with no body spending especially us dissabled people, and the people who look after us through sheer love. My husband has no life due to me and he works full time to make ends meet,but why should his hard earned cash be taken into account when it is me who is ill, he cant afford new clothes or a holiday as he has to pay the mortgage etc, but he does as he loves me, its not fair its not right and it is sad that we all suffer because i am so ill, some days i wish i wasnt here to be such a burdon on my family, finances and my once much loved country, i was proud to be british but now i am not proud about anything.

Pat, I am sure what you’ve said will strike a chord with many disabled people – it’s sad that we have to spend so much energy fighting for what should be our right!

In terms of what indefinite means, I too have an indefinite award which means you do not need to renew it. However, the changes to DLA mean that it will be replaced by a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and so people will need to apply for PIP instead; once DLA ceases to exist, your “indefinite” award letter will be meaningless. The government has said it wants to reduce the cost by 20% so it is clear that not everyone who currently gets DLA will qualify for PIP, even though those people’s needs will not have disappeared! At the moment we do not know any more about how PIP will work, other than that it will begin in 2013/14.

on top of everything else i agree with the second last paragraph on your post to i didnt get time to post the othere pice i was going to mention i get dla over mental health right fair enuff but also i get something called sdla this help me threw uni now if i get chucked off one i will get chucked off the other witch ends me back in the same place trying to get my slef sorted with a good education and a degree nobody has mutch commented on this yet

Two further benefits you’ve overlooked, cold weather payments and free or very cheap digital TV boxes as part of the national digital switchover scheme.

Good point, but both of those apply in very limited circumstances.

For cold weather payments, according to DirectGov you are only eligible if you are on one of: income-related Jobseekers Allowance, income-related ESA, income support, AND have a disabled child. (Or if you are a pensioner, but there is no disability consideration to that.) It does not apply to disabled adults.

Also, for the digiboxes and help with installing a digital aerial, you need to apply during specific dates when the switchover is almost imminent in your area. Nearly everyone I know who is eligible was aware of that but organised their own digital TV without waiting to become eligible. Of course, if you wait (and haven’t yet been switched over) then yes, you should be able to get help in switching to digital TV in due course. It’s not very well advertised in my opinion!

Would just like to add that the help offered with digital switch over that my mother had looked into would have been a more expensive box than from any supermarket

Yes, but often a simple digibox isn’t enough, or people need help installing one. If that’s the case then it can be a bargain…

For example I was offered a package of a box and aerial with installation for £40 all-in. This compares to when I went digital some months ago and had to spend around £100 on a suitable digital aerial and the same again on the installation cost. Sure, if all that is needed is a digibox then I agree you can get them for well under £40, but you don’t know until you try it whether you will need a new aerial. Also, some older or disabled people may need assistance in installing the digibox in terms of working out how to tune in to the new channels (I know my grandparents wouldn’t have known how) or physically getting down on their knees to plug it in (something I couldn’t manage, for example), and for that kind of help the call-out cost of an engineer could also exceed £40. So I think it depends on the disabled person and their situation. Perhaps get a £10 box and give that a go, but if it doesn’t work out, the digital switch over help could save a packet compared to the alternatives.

(I’m not in any way associated with digital switch over by the way, I am just speaking from experience!)

There are plenty of genuinely disabled people all over the uk who are in terrible pain day in day out and destined to be like that for the rest of their lives…this current onslaught against those of us who are disabled is totally devoid of any feelings of empathy and in short they dont give a fuk about us…due to the fact that a few are playing the system should not mean that the rest of us are punished for their crimes.Since this all began i have began to feel totally paranoid and at times have given thought to killing myself mainly due to the daily pain i endure but also due to the uncaring way this government is treating us.Waking up on a daily basis to nothing but pain is not very nice and to know that i am seen has nothing but a burden upon society makes it worse…even though i have worked for last 28 yrs prior to illness taking over my life it would seem my contribution to society counts for nothing..

I am becoming increasingl exasberated after filling in the ESA form, i also get DLA higher rate for both, but now i have to tell esa why i cant work, the form is purely to trick people, can i sit in a chair, can i pour a glass of water, yes i can do both of these things but it does not mean i can work, the water always ends up over me, and the chair is specialy made for me.and god help those of you with a dog(can walk dog for miles each day, buys and carries pet food etc.) it is one huge joke although i am not laughing the whole thing is making me feel physicaly ill through stress and worry and i am sure this had something to do with my husbands heart attack. no employer wil ltake me on due to the amount of morphine and diazipan i am on,let alone my other problems like for instance incontinence, or poor eyesight, i am negligence claim waiting to happen, if i worked in a cafe and spilled hot tea over someone, or lost my balance on some stairs due to vertigo, let alone the confusion i suffer due to some medication, but because i can push a button on a pc, i can work (i wish) if i could i would do it gladly, and if David Cameron would find me a job i can do and an employer who would take the risk on me then i would love to work, nothing would give me greater happiness, so if anyone is from the N.E. England here i am ready willing and waiting, If i could just take half of the financial and emotional burden off my Husband i would be a very happy lady. Please Mr Cameron we are not all scroungers, I am Not thick or lazy i am just very ill a long with nearly everyone else who claims DLA, why do we have to keep prooving it, I personally always feel as if i am on Trial for being ill, even though i am innocent, and there are a lot like me, Maybe you should do something helpfull so we have a reason to vote for you. PS i was not joking about a job, i would love to work again,

Its not just about pain! I’ve got uncontrolled generalised primary epilepsy, which is classed as a disablement. I do not know when a seizure is going to take place as I dont get warnings. Disablements aren’t just about hearts, inability to walk, dress, etc…they cover a wide range of areas. I am on DLA and if this comes into fruitation I am stuffed too. I dont hold a blue badge but I am unable to drive, i have a bus pass. Trust me, I want my driving license back! I want my epilepsy controlled – I hate living with this condition but Cameron is being his usual jack ass self. His government and stupid self sees disabled people as lazy, idle or stupid, true, why are the country not standing up and demanding a re-election? What are the people afraid of? A civil war??? People are coming into the country and getting everything and we’re getting everything taken away! I am raising three children, my Husband left us and went to Australia, without DLA we are stuffed. When I have seizures I rely on my Parents for their help. Cameron, you are a heartless idiot who wouldnt know you’re backside from your elbow or how the country truly feels about you. How about you and the government take a huge pay cut and give it to the people of the country and them bn’s will be repaid??? There will be no need for cuts then if you all cut your expenses, lived in smaller houses, quit the designer suits and went back to riding bikes to work for the good of the economy….do you remember that lyric? By the way, walk in any disabled person’s shoes for a week and see how it feels…you’d soon change your mind!

this is all very interesting stuff. listening to all the different situations i agree with them all the goverment are out for themselves and only themselves. the different benefits and the indefinate meanings is all very useful, my partner is disabled but only on the lower rate and when he lived with his parent his mum was able to get carers alowance for him, but since we married and moved in together i am not entitled to anything because of the lower rate. he still has the same disabilities worse so now because we have a young child and 3 teenagers life stressfull at the best of times lol but i cant get no help they will not change his entitlement. I cannot work because he cannot look after our son but they will not help at all. he has an indefinate cetificate. how will he be able to go work and provide for a family of 6 we could lose everyting and they will not give any answers. an will we ever be able to morgage our house or make a future for like other familys do.

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