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Disability benefits - How do I get started?

lorraine89 Member Posts: 1
hey everyone, I am very new to all of this and need some help and don't know where to start ! i have epilepsy was told about this ten years ago, i have two children and expecting another two next year yes, i do not do things by half! The other day i was hospital after having another 15 seizures and stopped breathing this time too. i do work but its getting dangerous and now pregnant again my fits will get worse they always do when hormonal. Family member's to me i can apply for a disability allowance and get my self sorted out, only problem is i do not know where to start. any help and advice would be so much appreciated !! thank you so so much, lorraine. 


  • abstractLucas
    abstractLucas Member Posts: 76 Connected
    Well, hi Lorraine, and congratulations!  

    I'm sure @BenefitsTrainingCo will be able to advise you on the details, but if you check out the Scope pages on disability benefits here http://www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/check-benefits and have a read about PIP (personal independence payment, which is replacing disability living allowance for new claimants), and also ESA (employment and support allowance, the 'new' incapacity benefit).  PIP is not means tested so you can claim whether or not you're working, while ESA works a bit differently.  Getting either of these then potentially makes you eligible for other things, such as housing benefit/council tax benefit, depending on your financial situation (if you have savings etc).  

    I assume you don't drive, as you're having seizures, in which case you might want to apply for a bus pass if you don't have one already - these schemes are administrated by councils but the card you get actually entitles you to (subject to certain conditions) free bus travel across England or Wales, whichever you live in.  Go to your local council website and search for 'concessionary bus pass' - your eligibility would be under the 'medical condition that prohibits you from holding a driving licirnce' category.  Just thought with two children already public transport to pregnancy appointments and so on will be getting expensive!  

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but gives you a place to start at least.

    Congratulations again!


  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering
    Hi Lorraine89

    The advice here will depend on whether you have any existing benefits in payment and if so which. For example, do you already get personal independence payment (PIP) or disability living allowance (DLA)? From what you've said i suspect not and so you should consider claiming PIP as it can be paid whether you are in or out of work and can have a positive effect on other benefits. Based on what you've said I think there is a very good chance that you will qualify for PIP. I suggest you have a look at the Scope pages with more information on PIP and start a claim as soon as possible. I also suggest you check that you get advice to check the outcome is right because i'm afraid decisions are often wrong.

    There are other possible entitlements. You can claim working tax credit including a disability element if you work at least 16 hours per week, meet a qualifying benefit condition and meet a disability condition. If you are successful in getting PIP and work at least 16 hours per week it is quite likely you will be able to get working tax credit, although it will also depend on your household income.

    Assuming you will soon be stopping work due to your pregnancy, there are various maternity benefits you might be entitled to. What you might be able to claim will depend on your due date, whether you are employed (including length of employment) or self-employed and how much income/capital you (and partner) have.

    If you have to stop work because of your epilepsy then employment and support allowance (ESA) may be an important benefit. You can find out more about ESA on the Scope pages here. This replaces your income when you cannot work due to a health condition or disability. There may be other entitlements that you could claim, and these will depend on a number of other things such as your household income and whether you pay rent or a mortgage.

    As this involves quite a lot of detail it may be difficult to discuss on the online forum and it might be worth speaking with the Scope helpline on 0808 800 3333 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday.

    I hope this helps

    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 740 Listener
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  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering
    Hi Lorraine,

    Just to add to my colleague's advice, whilst you are on maternity leave (which can start from 11 weeks before the baby is due) you may be able to get etiher Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance. SMP applies if you've worked throughout the pregnancy and earn at least £112 a week. MA applies if you don't meet those conditions, but you have worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the baby is due.

    You get SMP from your employer. They should tell you if you are not entitled by giving you a form called SMP1, which you can then send to the DWP when you claim MA. You claim MA on form MA1 which you can get by ringing 0800 055  66 88. They are both a maximum of £139.58 a week except that SMP can be more generous for the first six weeks, at 90 per cent of your average earnings.

    Regarding your condition getting worse when you are pregnant, your employer should do a risk assessment to make sure it's safe for you to do your job. If it isn't, they should make adjustments for you to ensure the risks are removed. If they can't do this (if there is nothing that is safe for you to do during your pregnancy) then you should be at home on full pay! This is employment law advice really but I do recommend that you think about this because you may be missing out on help your employer could give you to make it easier for you to stay in your job during this difficult time.

    You can't get employment and support allowance (ESA) whilst getting MA or SMP (unless they are worth less), but I agree with my colleague that ESA may be worth looking at if you can't get MA or SMP, or for when those benefits finish if you can't go back to work. MA and SMP last for 39 weeks, though you can have another 13 weeks of maternity leave if you are employed - those last 13 weeks are not covered by maternity benefits so you could claim ESA then if you haven't already. 

    As David says, if you get PIP then you can get Working Tax Credit (WTC) by working at least 16 hours a week. You are treated as working during the first 39 weeks of your maternity leave (whilst you get SMP or MA), so there is nothing to stop you getting WTC with the disability element then if you start getting PIP and you worked at least 16 hours a week before you went on maternity.
    When your new baby arrives, you can claim child benefit and extra child tax credit (CTC). And for housing costs help, as David indicates ESA can sometimes include help with the mortgage on a long term basis, and Housing Benefit could help with rent.

    As the situation is complex I do recommend ringing Scope, and you could also consider ringing Working Families or Maternity Action for advice about your rights at work and your maternity benefits. 

    Good luck! 

    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,676 Disability Gamechanger
    HI @lorraine89 how are you doing??
    Senior online community officer


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