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Advice to help you navigate the UK benefits system
This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis, including people with ankylosing spondylitis
Guidance to help you navigate the complex UK benefits system
If you need advice on what you could be claiming do contact Turn2us which is an independent charity offering confidential advice on benefits you may be entitled to claim. They have a very useful benefits calculator which will allow you to check online on what you could be claiming.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP is a non-means tested benefit. You do not have to have paid National Insurance contributions to be awarded PIP and you can receive it whether you are in work or not. It is non-taxable and acts as a passport to other benefits and premiums.
PIP is divided into two components: a daily living component and a mobility component. Each component has two rates, a lower paying standard rate and a higher paying enhanced rate. Awards are based on a points system, using a functional assessment of what you can and can’t do and how what you can do is limited by your condition.
PIP can give some claimants access to the Motability scheme and automatic entitlement to a Blue Badge.
Who can claim?
To qualify for PIP, you need to be aged between 16 and State Pension age. People who receive PIP before they reach State Pension age will go on being able to receive it once they are over this age. You need to have had your current level of needs for at least three months and be likely to continue having them for a further nine months.
How to claim
You can obtain a claim form from the Deprtment of Work and Pensions by calling 0800 917 2222. You’ll then be sent a form that asks about your condition and how it limits your ability to perform certain basic daily living activities. It’s important that you don’t just say yes or no to whether you can do something but explain how you do something and the difference having your disability makes. You will need to attach additional sheets in order to do this fully and increase your chances of being awarded this benefit.
We would encourage you to get help and support with completing the form either from your local Citizens Advice Centre or a similar agency. If you are completing the form yourself then do allow yourself enough time and do it in at least two or three sittings.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC)
ESA is a benefit paid to you if your ability to work is limited by ill health or disability. Your eligibility is tested by a Work Capability Assessment. You also have to have paid enough National Insurance contributions to be able to claim. If you do qualify then any savings or income (apart from any occupational pension) you already have is disregarded but it is generally only payable for 12 months.
UC is a means tested benefit paid to people of working age who are on a low income. You are expected to actively seek work unless you are unable to because of ill health or disability. If you are claiming UC on the grounds that you are unable to work you will need to undergo the same Work Capability Assessment as for ESA.
How can NASS help?
NASS have access to a number of publications produced by an external agency covering a range of issues including:
Claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP)and appealing PIP decisions
Claiming Eemployment and Support Allowance (ESA )and appealing ESA decisions
These are all available free of charge to NASS members by contacting Garry Williams. Please let Garry know which of the guides you would like to receive.
Garry can also provide supporting letters for you explaining what axial SpA is and how the affects you personally. Each letter is written for you individually and usually requires an in-depth chat on the telephone.These letters do make a real difference as impact statements and a description of what it’s like to live with axial SpA. However, they are not a replacement for letters from your own health professional confirming your condition and maagement. You do not need to be a member of NASS to access this service.
NASS is unable to assist with the actual process of claiming and appealing including completing forms, communicating with the DWP or attending appeals . We would urge you to contact local welfare rights organisations for this support.
Other sources of help
Disability Rights UK
0330 995 0400
National Money Advice Service
0800 011 3797
Learn more about disability benefits
Helpline Officer, Garry Williams, was interviewed by Senior Self-management Programme Officer, Zoë Clark:
NHS Low Income Scheme
If you are on a low income, the NHS Low Income Scheme could help you pay for things like prescription charges, dental treatment, the cost of sight tests and the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment.
The amount of help you’re entitled to depends on your household income and outgoings.
Prescription prepayment certificate
A Prescription Payment Certificate (PPC) lets you get as many NHS prescriptions as you need for a set price. If you regularly pay prescription charges, a PPC could save you money. The prescription charge in England is £9.35 per item.
A PPC costs:
£30.25 for 3 months
£108.10 for 12 months
The quickest way to buy a PPC is to buy it online.