Benefits for people with a learning disability and their carers
If you have a learning disability or you are caring for someone with a disability it is important
to make sure you are getting the support you are entitled to. There are a range of benefits available and we’ve included information about the ones we believe are most relevant to people with a learning disability and their carers.
For further information about benefits, please visit www.gov.uk/browse/benefits
Additionally, our Family Support Service may be able to help.
Pension Credit - extra help for pensioners
Are you single and have a weekly income of less than £167.25 or £255.25 if you have a partner?
If so, you might be able to receive Pension Credit. Up to 1.3 million families entitled to Pension Credit have not claimed it. You might still get extra money even if you own your own home or have some savings.
For people who have reached the qualifying age, it guarantees a contribution to bring a weekly income up to £167.25 for single people or £255.25 if you're a couple.
And if you’re aged 65 or over you may be entitled to extra money if you have made some provision towards your retirement such as savings or a private pension. This is called Savings Credit and could mean up to an extra £13.73 a week (for single people) or £15.35 a week (for couples).
So you’re likely to be entitled to some Pension Credit even if your weekly income is £201.55 (single people) or £293.63 (couples).
Even if your income is more, you may still be able to get Pension Credit if for example, you or your partner are severely disabled, are a carer or have housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.
To help further, if you apply for Pension Credit you may be able to get up to 3 months backdated payment from the day you were first entitled up to the date you apply. Some people have had as much as £1,000 with their backdated payment.
To make applying easy The Pension Service has a dedicated freephone application line. Just call 0800 99 1234 (textphone 0800 169 0133) and an adviser will fill in the form with you. A face-to-face service is also offered through The Pension Service's Local Service team for more vulnerable people who require further assistance in applying. When you call, the adviser will arrange this if it's relevant for you.
Or if you prefer, you can ask someone else to call on your behalf.
Just over 1.6 million people are already in receipt of Pension Credit and you may be able to join them. So call today on freephone 0800 99 1234 (textphone 0800 169 0133).
The Pension Credit qualifying age is gradually going up. It reached 65 in November 2018 in line with the State Pension age for women and will go up further to 66 by December 2020.
You can also use an online calculator to find out if you are eligible and check how much you might get.
Benefits for working age people
Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.
PIP can help towards paying some of the extra costs disabled people face, such as paying for support around the home or using the money to pay for taxis to help you get around.
PIP is a non-means tested, non-taxable benefit, which you can spend in a way that best meets your needs. You can get PIP whether you’re in work or not.
The rate you get depends on how the condition affects you, not the condition itself. You’ll need an assessment to work out the level of help you get.
Your rate will be regularly reassessed to make sure you’re getting the right support. Your disability or health condition You must have a long-term health condition or disability and face difficulties with ‘daily living’ or getting around.
You must have had these difficulties for three months and expect them to last for at least nine months, unless you’re terminally ill (you don’t expect to live more than six months).
Daily Living Difficulties
You may get the daily living component of PIP if you need help with things like:
You may get the mobility component of PIP if you need help going out or moving around.
Videos explaining PIP
Easy-read guide to PIP
To apply, call the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim. Telephone: 0800 917 2222 Textphone: 0800 917 7777.
For further information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/pip
Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA offers financial support to ill or disabled people who are unable to work or personalised help so that someone can work if they are able to.
There are three types of ESA:
People are assessed to see if they are eligible for ESA and if so when they should be called for a further assessment, which can be anything from three months up to three years.
Citizen’s Advice has a good guide to what is involved if you think you may be entitled to claim it.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has produced an easy-ready guide.
Income Support is an income-related benefit that can be paid to people who work less than 16 hours pre week (on average) and are on a low or no income with little or no capital and savings. Any income, capital or savings that a partner has (if they have one) will be taken into account.
People who might qualify include:
Universal Credit (UC)
Universal Credit (UC) is a payment to help with living costs for those on a low income or out of work and aged 16 - 64. It provides a single payment per household based upon the circumstances of the household.
Support for housing costs, children and childcare costs are integrated into Universal Credit and it also provides additions for disabled people and carers.
DWP figures indicate that at January 2020 nationally 2.8 million claimants are on Universal Credit. The average amount of Universal Credit paid to households on Universal Credit was £720 per month. The average monthly award of Universal Credit paid to single person households without children was £490. The average award for households with children was £990 for couples with children and £990 for singles with children.
Universal Credit replaces the following:
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit and the amount of Universal Credit you will get depends on your circumstances and your income.
You cannot claim Universal Credit if you have three or more dependent children. Apart from this, most people of working age can claim. Usually, you have to be at least 18 years of age to claim but special rules allow some 16 and 17-year-olds to claim, including many disabled 16 – 17-year- olds.
When you first claim Universal Credit you will not be paid any money until 5 weeks after you submit your claim, you will then be paid monthly.
If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment you may be able to get an advance of your first Universal Credit payment.
You can ask for an advance payment of your Universal Credit if you are in financial hardship while you wait for your first payment, for example, if you can’t afford to pay your rent or buy food.
You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments, or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, for example, from your wages or other benefit you may be getting.
Alternative Payment Arrangements
Universal Credit aims to prepare claimants for the world of work. It also encourages claimants to take responsibility for their own financial affairs. To that end, Universal Credit is paid in a single monthly sum to households, who are expected to manage their own budgets, making housing costs a priority.
However, there are Alternative Payment Arrangements available.
A person with a learning disability including problems with literacy and/or numeracy is likely to be eligible for Alternative Payment Arrangements.
Claimants who are identified as needing additional support may be able to access:
The Understanding Universal Credit website provides information to help people navigate Universal Credit.
Contact, a charity for families with disabled children, has a useful factsheet on Universal Credit.
For children under 16 years
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax free benefit which helps with the extra costs of looking after a child who needs help to look after themselves or move around because of a disability or health condition.
It is paid to a child's parent or a person who looks after the child as if they are a parent (e.g. step-parents, guardians, grandparents, foster parents and older brothers and sisters over 18 years).
You can only make a new DLA claim if you are under 16.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child under 16.
The child’s disability or health condition must mean one or both of the following apply:
This can include anyone with a learning disability who can actually walk but is a danger to themselves or others when they are out in the community. This might be because they have very limited understanding of road safety or stranger danger or of the need to walk.
Your child may need an assessment to work out what help they need.
DLA is made up of a 'care component' which is paid at either the lowest/middle/highest rate and a 'mobility component' which has a lower and higher rate.
Your child might qualify for one or both components.
You can apply online, or call the Disability Living Allowance Helpline on 0345 712 3456. Textphone: 0345 722 4433. Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
When your child turns 16 you will need to apply for PIP. Their DLA will end if they decide not to apply for PIP.
For further information about DLA for children and PIPs for young people over 16 you can download these guides:
Carer's Allowance (CA)
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers.
It is a benefit paid to help people who look after someone who is disabled. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. It is paid at a basic rate of £66.15 a week (from April 2019).
You may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you are 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week or more for someone who is ill or disabled. You can get Carer’s Allowance if you are caring for someone who is in receipt of DLA or PIPs at the middle or highest rate for personal care.
Contact a Family also have a downloadable Carer’s Allowance factsheet.
Blue Badge scheme extended to hidden disabilities
Eligibility for the Blue Badge parking scheme will be expanded in the New Year to include people with hidden disabilities, such as learning disabilities and autism.
The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who:
Blue Badges allow people with disabilities to park closer to their destination. They are issued to people, not vehicles, so you can use them in any vehicle you travel in.
From January 2019, you can now apply for a Blue Badge, or renew your old one, within half an hour thanks to a new online service launched by the Department for Transport.
In the past, on average, it took 17 days to apply for and get your Blue Badge – or 28 days if you needed a medical assessment.
By claiming online an application should only take 13 minutes – or up to half an hour if you need to give more information.
You can still apply for a Blue Badge offline if you wish
The new State Pension
The new State Pension is a regular payment from the government most people can claim from when they reach their State Pension age. The new State Pension affects everyone who reaches State Pension age from 6 April 2016 onwards. How much an individual gets depends on their National Insurance record. The full amount (from April 2019) is currently £168.60 a week - around £8,500 a year - but some people will get more and others less, depending on their National Insurance record.
If someone’s Starting Amount for the new State Pension (based on their National Insurance record as at 6 April 2016) is less than the full rate of new State Pension, each extra year on their record will add 1/35th of the full amount £4.55 a week) until they reach State Pension age (SPA) or the full amount of new State Pension, whichever comes first.
Get to know yours
You can get a personalised online forecast to tell you how much you might get and the earliest you can claim it visit www.gov.uk/check-state-pension
National Insurance Credits
Parents with children under 12 are being urged to ensure they receive National Insurance credits which may improve their State Pension income.
Some parents may inadvertently be missing out on retirement income to which they are entitled. To ensure they receive National Insurance credits parents must submit a child benefit claim, even if they opt out of receiving any payments.
Credits can help to fill gaps in National Insurance records and help people to qualify for some contributory benefits including State Pension.
The full new State Pension is £164.35 per week – or around £8,500 a year – however, the actual amount you get depends on an individual’s National Insurance record.
National Insurance credits aim to ensure that someone’s State Pension is not affected if they are unable to work and pay National Insurance contributions.
People who are in receipt of Child Benefit (even if they don’t receive any payment), Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance and some other income replacement benefits receive National Insurance credits automatically.
People in the following circumstances may be eligible to apply for NI credits:
Some parents may not be aware that they need to make a child benefit claim to receive the credits and some may not claim because they feel they may be subject to the High Income Child Benefit Charge. However, parents can choose to receive no payments once they’ve applied and that charge won’t apply.
You can find further information at https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance-credits