Getting State Benefits
The two main benefits you should look into are:
• Employment and Support Allowance, for patients unable to work.
• Disability Living Allowance, for extra money to help with disabilities.
Employment and Support Allowance
If you currently claim Incapacity benefit, Income support paid on the grounds of illness or disability or Severe Disablement Allowance you will be moved onto ESA following the next review of your claim. When you make a claim for ESA you will usually have a Work Capability Assessment and you may also be asked to take part in a medical assessment. There are two groups of ESA.
1. Work-Related Activity Group
You will be expected to take part in work-focused interviews with your personal adviser. You will get support to help you prepare for suitable work. In return, you will receive a work-related activity component in addition to your basic rate.
2. Support Group
If your illness or disability has a severe effect on your ability to work, you won't be expected to work or to take part in work-focused interviews. But, you can work on a voluntary basis if you want to. You will receive a support component in addition to your basic rate.
Disability Living Allowance
This has two components. You may be able to get both components or just one of them. It is a tax free benefit for those under 65.
- Care component which has three rates - low, medium and high. This is if you need help looking after yourself or supervision to keep safe.
- Mobility component which has two rates - low and high. This is if you can’t walk or need help getting around.
From 2013 the new Personal Independence Payment is gradually replacing DLA for disabled persons aged between 16 and 64.
People with CFS
For a CFS sufferer the important point is not what you can manage on that day but what you can manage without causing delayed fatigue. Qualify every question – eg you may be able to climb stairs, but only once a day. You may be able to walk 20 metres but only four times a day. Make sure that you make this very clear on your forms, and in any interviews.
A fundamental problem with CFS patients used to be that there was no objective test which measured the degree of disability. This means that the doctors involved could choose either to believe or disbelieve a patient, Hence the usefulness of the Mitochondrial Function profile which gives an objective measure of fatigue. I can do strong supportive letters if this test results show disability!
If you feel you are unreasonably turned down for benefits ask for the reasons why in writing, including a copy of the examining doctor’s report if applicable. Ask for help from the Citizen’s advice Bureau, or a solicitor. I am able to help by writing a report for an appeal, either based on clinical consultations, on test results or both. For more advice on this please phone in and speak with Caroline my secretary (usually Mondays and Wednesdays), or email her on Caroline
For more details on these and all other benefits please contact the Department of Work and Pensions:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
DLA helpline Telephone: 0345 712 3456 Textphone: 0345 722 4433 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
- Attendance Allowance (AA)
AA helpline Telephone: 0345 605 6055 Textphone: 0345 604 5312 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP helpline Telephone: 0345 850 3322 Textphone: 0345 601 6677 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA Helpline Telephone: 0843 515 8650 Availability varies
- Their website Department for Work and Pensions
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