Benefits Advice and Information – your questions answered!

 

Robert Hayes: Welfare Benefits Advisor, Short Breaks Commissioning, People Services, West Sussex County Council,  Mobile: 07850240874 | External: 033022 22569 | E-mail: robert.hayes@westsussex.gov.uk |

 

1.My child doesn’t have a diagnosis, can I still apply?

Yes, you can apply but you will need supporting evidence about their condition or how their behavior impacts upon theirs and the family’s life. 

 

2.I am a new expectant single mum with my first child that is confirmed as Down Syndrome what benefits should I be looking into and how do I go about it all?

You can claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from birth, but in reality, it will be after 3 months, as the criteria states that the person must have had the condition/illness for 3 months and expected to last for at least 6 months. It is difficult to make a claim for a young baby as you have to demonstrate what you do above and beyond the needs of a baby of the same age.

If your baby receives DLA at either the middle or high rate care component, you will be able to make a claim for carer’s allowance as long as you meet the criteria for qualifying, (see q4).

 

3.Do I need a GP or school to support my application?

It helps support your claim to have as much evidence that you can. It would be helpful to talk to the school about how your child presents, as they may not see extremes of behavior that your child may exhibit when they are with you. The GP will be asked for medical records, so having them onside helps your application. If there is a Consultant’s report, or anyother, that will also help.

 

4.Am I entitled to Carer’s Allowance, I am a parent after all?

Yes, you can claim Carer’s Allowance as long as you meet the criteria, which is, the person you are caring for, must be in receipt of the middle or higher rate of the care component of DLA, or daily living in Personal Independence Payments. You must be caring for the person for at least 35 hours and not earn more than £128 per week. Please remember, claiming Carer’s Allowance, may affect other benefits you receive.

 

5.What are the top tips for completing a DLA application – can I do it online? Should I take a copy?

It is always advisable to keep a copy, and you can claim on-line for DLA, but not PIP. I attach my Top Ten Tips.

 

 6.I am a parent, why should I complete a DLA form? It feels wrong…

You may have more expenses with a child who has a disability. You can use the money for any purpose that will enable the child to have a fulfilling life. It could be for therapy sessions or an additional piece of equipment.

Many parents feel the same as you but claiming DLA is a gateway to other benefits. This is about your child and what is best for them.

 

7.Do I have to use the DLA money for therapies?

No, you don’t have to use DLA for therapy but you can if you wish. The money is for anything you feel will enable the young person to achieve their full potential or, to relieve pain/anxiety to name but a few.

 

8.Is there anyone like Robert who helps adults with PIP? Or can he as well?

I am able to offer help until the young person reaches 25. After that age, there is no specific person, but there is help available – please see this factsheet from Carers UK for more information and contact numbers.

  

9.I’ve just received a letter regarding my daughters DLA & that as she is 16yrs old in sept 2020, but she still has a year left at school from sept she will be going over to PIP?

Yes, PIP is claimed after her 16th birthday. I would strongly recommend that you claim PIP when they write to you.

 

10.Hi, I need help on DLA application that is due to renew in June but I don’t have all the paperwork from hospital because of the lockdown as daughter is housebound. Any help would be really appreciated

Renewals and face to face appointments for DLA and PIP are being extended for 3 months. I would suggest completing it as much as possible and state clearly that supporting evidence will be following later due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you scan over to me your completed form, I will look it over and make suggestion/amendments via email.

 

11.How do I book a 1:1 slot to discuss a PIP tribunal?

Please use the referral form on this page

 

Top Ten Tips for completing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) application forms

Request a form by calling 0800 121 4600 (Freephone. Alternatively, you can download a DLA form (approx. 70 pages) and find further information on all benefits by following the link https://www.gov.uk/  
  1. Don’t be scared of the form, take your time and read the questions properly. Familiarise yourself with the eligibility criteria for DLA/PIP.  
  2. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, the Decision Maker will be more focused on what the issues are. 
  3. Avoid words like ‘sometimes or occasionally’. 
  4. Base your answers on the worst day possible with your child. Be honest, don’t overthink the question and don’t assume the person making the decision will know about the disability or condition. You are comparing a child with a disability to one without a disability so focus on what extra you have to do. 
  5. Keep a diary. You will find this useful as you will underestimate what you do to help your child and the time it takes. Remember it is not only physical help; it is prompting, encouraging, explaining and supervision too.  
  6. Don’t just tick boxes but give explanations wherever possible and add additional pages if necessary.  
  7. Ask a friend to look over the form once you have completed it  
  8. Include good supporting evidence. Maybe ask family/friends to write a short supporting letter stating how things are, not what they want it to be. 
  9. Keep a copy of your completed form 
  10. Look at local and national websites as you will find dedicated information and advice for DLA/PIP claims for specific advice including:   
West Sussex Local Offer  http://www.westsussex.local-offer.org.uk 
West Sussex Parent Carer Forum  http://www.wspcf.org.uk 
Government Website http://www.gov.uk 
Citizens Advice  https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk 
Turn 2 Us  https://www.turn2us.org.uk 
Reaching Families  http://www.reachingfamilies.org.uk 

 

Once completed, return the form in the pre-paid envelope included in the pack, by the date requested on the form and the claim will start from the date it was posted by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP).

 

Benefits information available via WhatsApp

People can now access the most up-to-date benefits and support information via their smart phones, using WhatsApp.

The service, which can be accessed by sending ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message to 07860 064 422, has been launched to help combat the spread of incorrect information and to make the correct information easily accessible.

The GOV.UK service currently has more than 312,000 unique users, and has sent more than 2.6 million messages since its launch on 25 March 2020.

DWP is one of the first government departments to provide information via the service, which includes information on benefits support available, how to check if you are eligible and how to apply.