Disability Benefits and Entitlements

May 9, 2021
by Rachel

If you, or your child, have a disability or other long-term health condition, there is a range of support services – including financial support – out there.

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance, or DLA, is to help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:

  • is under 16
  • has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability

There are two components to DLA, care and mobility. Children will need to meet the eligibility criteria to be awarded this benefit, and the amount ranges between £23.70 and £152.15 per week.

More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children.

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, can help with some of the extra costs if you have a long term physical or mental health condition or disability. This is for people aged over 16, but under State Pension Age.

The amount you get depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself. You’ll be assessed by a health professional to work out the level of help you can get.

There are two components to PIP, daily living and mobility. There are eligibility criteria in order to receive PIP, although you can work and receive PIP at the same time. The amount recieved ranges from £23.70 to £152.15 per week.

More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/pip.

Employment Support Allowance

Employment Support Allowance, or ESA, is aimed at those who have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

As always, there are eligibility criteria including if you have been impacted by Covid-19.

The amount you will receive ranges between £59.20 and £114.10 per week.

More information on ESA can be found at https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance.

Carers Allowance

You can claim carers allowance if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits (this includes DLA or PIP).

You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.

You do not get paid extra if you care for more than one person. If someone else also cares for the same person as you, only one of you can claim Carer’s Allowance (for example, only 1 parent can claim per child).

The amount is £67.60 per week, although claiming Carers Allowance does affect any other claimed benefits (for example, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit).

More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance.

Child Tax Credit Disability Premium

If you need extra help with the costs of bringing up children, you can now only make a new claim for Child Tax Credit if you’re getting Working Tax Credit. If you don’t, you’ll have to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you’re already getting Child Tax Credit and your child develops a disability or long-term health condition, you might
be able to claim an additional disabled premium for them.

The amount recieved ranges between £3,435 and £4,825 a year.

Usually Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit support is limited to the first two children if any were born after 6th April 2017. However, all disabled children are protected. So if you make a new claim you’ll still be able to get the disabled premium or disabled child addition for any of your children who are sick or disabled.

Find out more information about Child Tax Credit at https://www.gov.uk/child-tax-credit.

Universal Credit Housing Costs Element

Universal Credit Housing Costs Element can be applicable for those who already receive housing benefits. This benefit can cover more of the rent costs if a child in your household has a disability or long-term health condition.

More information can be found on Universal Credit at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

If you’re a homeowner, and getting certain means-tested benefits including Universal Credit, you might be able to apply for support for mortgage, interest, which is paid as a loan. More information on homeowners benefits can be found at https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/support-for-mortgage-interest.

Council Tax Discount

If you are responsible for paying Council Tax, a council tax discount could apply. More of your bill might be covered if a child in your household has a disability or long-term health condition.

To qualify for a reduction, your property must be the main home of at least one disabled person. This can be an adult or a child – it doesn’t have to be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax.

Your property must also have features that are essential, or of major importance, to the well-being of the disabled person, for example:

  • a room (other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet) that is used predominantly by the disabled person
  • an additional bathroom (excluding a toilet) or kitchen required to meet the needs of the disabled person
  • adaptations to allow the use of a wheelchair inside the property

In Sheffield, the reduction will be equivalent to re-banding your property into the next lower Council Tax band. The reduction for Band A properties will be the equivalent of one 9th of Band D.

Find out more and apply for a Council Tax discount in Sheffield at https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/council-tax/council-tax-discounts-exemptions.

Cold Weather Payments

Cold weather payments are available for those who receive certain benefits. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

The amount received is £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

You can find more information about Cold Weather Payments at https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.

Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is different (and a separate payment) to the cold weather payments detailed above.

You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The scheme opens on 18 October 2021. The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.

Eligibility criteria applies – find out more at https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.

Water Bill Discount

There’s a scheme in England and Wales called WaterSure, which is designed to help people struggling with their water bills. You may qualify if you’re on certain benefits and need to use a lot of water for medical reasons. You also need to be on a water meter (or be waiting to have one installed).

The scheme caps your water bill, so you won’t pay more than the average metered bill in your area – if you use less than the average, you’ll simply pay for what you use.

This scheme is to make sure that these customers don’t cut back on how much water they use because they are worried about how they will pay their bill.

Eligibility criteria apply, and can be found at https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/households/customer-assistance/watersure/.

Motability and Blue Badges

People getting the higher rate mobility element of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment – the scheme can provide a car, motorised wheelchair or scooter.

For more information on Motability visit https://www.motability.co.uk.

Blue Badge Scheme
The Blue Badge scheme helps you park closer to your destination if you have a disability or health condition that affects your mobility or you care for a child with a health condition. This includes using marked disabled bays when out and about.

People with hidden disabilities, including autism and severe mental health conditions, are able to apply for a Blue Badge as of 31 August 2019.

The Blue Badge scheme already means those with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.

The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who:

  • cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
  • cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
  • have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)

In Sheffield, you can find out more, and apply for a blue badge, online at https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/bluebadge.

Disabled Facilities Grant

You could get a grant from your council if you’re disabled and need to make changes to your home, for example to:

  • widen doors and install ramps
  • improve access to rooms and facilities – eg stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom
  • provide a heating system suitable for your needs
  • adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use

The amount received is based on a case-by-case basis, but in England is up to £30,000. Depending on your income, you may need to pay towards the cost of the work to the property, however, disabled children under 18 years can get a grant without their parents’ income being taken into account.

More information on DFG’s can be found at https://www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants, or for local information in Sheffield visit https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/housing/adapting-your-home.

VAT Exemption

If you’re disabled or have a long-term illness, the Government says you shouldn’t be charged VAT on items which have been designed or adapted for your personal use – for example, wheelchairs or equipment to help you get around your house. This also covers installation, repairs/maintenance and spare parts or accessories.

For VAT purposes, you’re disabled (or have a long-term illness) if:

  • You have a physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to carry out everyday activities, eg, blindness.
  • You have a condition that’s treated as chronic sickness, like diabetes.
  • You’re terminally ill.

The Government says you don’t qualify if you’re elderly but able-bodied, or if you’re temporarily disabled.

See the Government’s VAT relief guidance for the full list, but examples include: 

  • Medical and surgical appliances
  • Wheelchairs and mobility scooters
  • Equipment to aid the hard of hearing, and low-vision aids
  • Specialist beds, chair and stairlifts, rise and recline chairs and other lifting equipment and sanitary devices
  • Goods that have been designed solely for disabled people
  • Computer equipment designed solely for use by disabled people
  • Emergency alarm call systems

Free Prescriptions

People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions if they have a valid medical exemption certificate. Free prescriptions apply to those over the age of 16 (children have free prescriptions as standard).

A medical exemption certificate:

  • entitles you to free NHS prescriptions only
  • doesn’t cover dental treatment or help with other health costs
  • should be shown when you collect a prescription
  • is valid for five years (or until your 60th birthday, whichever is sooner)

It’s your responsibility to check the expiry date, and if you claim free prescriptions after your certificate expires, you could have to pay a penalty charge of up to £100.

Find out more information at https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/exemption-certificates/medical-exemption-certificates.

Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by suppliers and network operators. Help you can get by being on the register includes;

  • Advance notice of planned power cuts
  • Priority support in an emergency
  • Identification scheme to reassure you that callers, for example meter readers, are genuine
  • Nominee scheme
  • Accessible information
  • Meter reading services at appropriate intervals

Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register. To get on it, you need to contact your energy supplier.

For more information visit https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/extra-help-energy-services/priority-services-register.

Disabled Students Allowance

If you’re over 18, studying and need help with costs you have to pay in relation to your course as the result of a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty, then disabled students’ allowances (DSAs) can help you. There are three different allowances:

  • Specialist equipment (up to £5,849). Such as a new computer, if you’re assessed as needing one.
  • Non-medical helpers (up to £23,258). For example, a sign-language interpreter.
  • General allowance (up to £1,954). For example, extra travel, photocopying and other disability-related costs.

Find more information on student support for those with disabilities at https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowance-dsa.

Free Bus Travel

You can get discounted, or free, travel on public transport with a disabled person’s travel pass.

A disabled person’s travel pass enables free public transport for those who qualify within the South Yorkshire area. This is open to people aged 5 to 66 years old.

In Sheffield, you can find out more information and apply online at https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/sheffield/home/disability-mental-health/apply-for-disabled-persons-travel-pass.html.

Disabled Person’s Railcard

If you have a disability that makes travelling by train difficult, you may qualify for a Disabled Person’s Railcard.

It costs £20 for one year, or £54 for three years and gets you one-third off most train travel.

If you travel with another adult, they’ll also get one-third off their ticket. The accompanying adult does not have to have a disability, but does need to travel with you for the duration of the journey to qualify.

If your child (aged 5-15) has one of the eligible disabilities, they can apply for a Disabled Person’s Railcard (or you can apply on their behalf). They won’t get discounted child fares, but the card will allow one adult travelling with them to get one-third off.

Find more information and apply online at https://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk.

Toll Charge Exemption

If you have a blue badge for disabled parking or receive certain benefits, you may be exempt from paying tolls on roads such as the M6. Criteria for exemption varies, and for some roads you may need to apply in advance – with others you can simply present your blue badge at the toll booth.

Check each toll separately as differing rules apply, but locations include;

  • M6 Toll
  • Dartford Crossing
  • Mersey Gateway Bridge and Silver Jubilee Bridge
  • Mersey Tunnels
  • Humber Bridge
  • Tyne Tunnels

Car Tax Exemption

If you’re disabled and receiving certain benefits, you may be exempt from paying vehicle tax, or be able to get a 50% discount. 

You can apply for an exemption if you get the:

  • Higher-rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA).
  • Enhanced-rate mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP).
  • War pensioners’ mobility supplement.
  • Armed forces independence payment.

The vehicle must be registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name. It must only be used for the disabled person’s personal needs. It cannot be used by the nominated driver for their own personal use.

More information on tax exemption can be found at https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax.

Airport Assistance

If you have a disability, reduced mobility or difficulty with communication or social interaction, you have a legal right to special assistance when you travel. This applies on any flights out of the UK or anywhere in the EU, or if you’re flying to an airport in the EU (or UK) on an EU airline.

If you think you need special assistance, you can declare your disability to the airline. This should be done in advance in order that airports and airlines can prepare. If left until the last minute, support cannot be guaranteed.

The aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority says help is available from the moment you arrive at an airport and can cover:

  • Your journey through your departure airport
  • Boarding the aircraft and during the flight
  • Disembarking the aircraft
  • Transferring between flights
  • Travelling through your destination airport

Contact each airport/airline individually for more information.

Access Card

An issue many disabled people face is having to ‘prove’ they need special assistance or reasonable adjustments made, eg, at music venues or when dealing with service providers. One solution to this is to get an Access Card, which costs £15 for three years.

To apply, you’ll need to fill out a form and provide evidence of your disability, eg, a letter from your doctor. You’ll then be sent your Access Card, which will display symbols relevant to your needs – these can include wheelchair access, urgent toilet needs or difficulty with standing and queuing although there is a full list of conditions. The idea is that staff will quickly and discreetly understand what assistance you require.

While it’s not necessary to have an Access Card in order to get assistance, even in venues which specifically work with the scheme, many say it can make the process a lot easier if you can simply flash a card.

More information on the Access Card can be found at https://www.accesscard.org.uk.

Free Cinema Tickets

The CEA Card enables a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema. The card is in the child’s name, so any accompanying carer can enter for free.

The Card is also one way for cinemas to make sure they look after their disabled guests. If you require an adjustment to visit a cinema because of your disability, cinema staff should make them for you whether you have a CEA Card or not.

More information, and how to apply for a CEA card can be found at https://www.ceacard.co.uk.

Free/Discounted Access to Major Attractions

Lots of major attractions offer free, or discounted, entry for carers accompanying a disabled person. These can vary from a carer being admitted for free with a paying disabled person, or discounted entry for both the individual and an accompanying carer.

Theme parks often also issue queue jump passes, meaning that you won’t have to queue as long for a particular ride. These can sometimes be limited to certain days/times, for certain rides, or with T&C’s attached (for example, one ride per hour, or a limit on the number of people who can use the pass at once).

It’s always best to check out an attractions website before you attend, they will often list any discounts or accommodations they offer on there. If not, get in touch and ask in advance, it’s always best to know beforehand in case you are required to take photographic evidence or any other items with you.

If you know of any places or services offering discounts or benefits, please do let us know and we’ll add them to the list!