Disability and ill health benefits

This page of the site gives some basic information about benefits that relate to a person’s ill health or disability.

These benefits may be more appropriate for the person you are looking after, but you (or your partner or children) may also be able to claim. Even if you claim carer’s allowance you can also claim disability living allowance, attendance allowance or a personal independence payment if you meet the conditions. This page is intended as a brief overview only. You should follow the links provided for more information. 

Disability living allowance

Personal independence payment

Attendance allowance

Employment and support allowance

Industrial injuries benefit

Armed forces independence payment

Disability living allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit paid by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to people who have a long-term physical or mental disabilities. DLA has two parts: a care component and a mobility component. You may get both, or just one. There are various rates, depending on how your condition affects you. It is not taxable and is paid on top of any other income and savings you may have.

DLA is paid to adults and children. You can find out more about DLA for children in our caring for a disabled child section.

DLA is gradually being replaced by a new benefit called the personal independent payment (PIP) for people aged 16 to 64. You cannot get PIP and DLA at the same time. You can only make a new claim for DLA if you're claiming for a child under 16. You may also be able to reclaim DLA. Anyone aged 16 or over must apply for PIP instead of DLA. If you were aged 65 or over on 8 April 2013, you can stay on DLA and will not have to claim PIP. 

If you are already getting DLA, it will be eventually replaced by PIP. It is expected that all existing DLA claimants who need to claim PIP instead will have been invited to do so by late 2017. You may also move to PIP if there's a change in how your condition affects you or your DLA is due to end. You can use the PIP checker on the GOV.UK site to find out when you will be affected by PIP. 

DLA is generally not counted as income when working out the amount of other social security benefits and tax credits you might get. However, the local council may take into account the amount of care component you get into when working out how much you pay towards any social care services they provide.
If you already get a means-tested benefit, such as income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit or tax credits, a successful claim for an increase of DLA could mean these benefits also increase – you may even find you can claim these benefits for the first time. You should get advice to check how DLA might impact on your other benefits.

For more information about DLA see the GOV.UK website.

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Personal independence payment

PIP is a new benefit for people who have long term physical disabilities or mental illness. It replaces disability living allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 or over and under 65.  Like DLA, you do not need to have paid national insurance contributions to get it and it is not taxable.  It also does not matter how much other income and savings you may have. You can get PIP whether you are in work or not.

You can claim PIP if you:

  • are aged 16 to 64;
  • normally live in Great Britain and have lived here for at least  2 of the last 3 years (time spent in another European country may count, get advice if this applies to you);
  • Not be subject to immigration control;
  • be habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Manor or the Channel Islands (exceptions may apply); and pass the daily living and/or mobility assessment.

You must usually have had difficulties for at least 3 months, and they are expected to last another 9 months.  There are, however, special rules if you are terminally ill and not expected to live 6 months.

PIP has two parts: a daily living component and a mobility component.  You may get both or just one.  There are two rates for each component (standard and enhanced), depending on how your illness or disability affects your ability to cope with daily living and getting around.

PIP shares some common features with DLA; however, claims will not be decided in the same way as DLA and the claims process is different.

PIP is generally not counted as income when working out the amount of other social security benefits and tax credits you might get. However, the local council may take into account the amount of daily living component you get when working out how much you pay towards any social care services they provide.
If you already get a means-tested benefit, like income-related employment and support allowance or housing benefit, a successful claim could mean these benefits increase – you may even find you can claim these benefits for the first time. You should get advice to check how PIP might impact on your other benefits.
Although you must be under 65 when you first claim, PIP can carry on being paid after 65 as long as you continue to meet the qualifying rules.

You can find out more about PIP, the assessment criteria, how to claim and the current rates of PIP on the GOV.UK website.

Disability Rights UK produce a free guide to PIP which explains the benefit in more detail. 

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Attendance allowance

Attendance allowance is a benefit paid by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to people aged 65 or over who have a long-term physical or mental illness or disability. It is not taxable and is paid on top of any other income and savings you may have.

If you are already getting disability living allowance or personal independence payment at 65, this will continue as long as you continue to meet the qualifying rules; you do not need to claim attendance allowance.

You can claim attendance allowance if, because of your condition:

  • you have a lot of difficulties looking after yourself, e.g. getting in and out of bed, washing, dressing, bathing, moving around indoors, using the toilet, eating and drinking, taking your medicines, seeing, communicating with other people; or
  • you need someone to keep an eye on you to stop you hurting yourself or others. This might be because you are forgetful or easily confused.

You cannot get attendance allowance if you just need help with household chores like cleaning and gardening and, unlike disability living allowance, it does not include money for any walking difficulties you have outdoors.

You usually must have had difficulties for at least six months. There are, however, special rules if you are terminally ill and not expected to live six months. For new claims from 8 April 2013, you also need to have lived in the UK for at least 2 of the last 3 years (time spent in another European country may count, get advice if this applies to you).

Attendance allowance is generally not counted as income when working out the amount of other social security benefits and tax credits you get.  However, the local council may take it into account when working out how much you pay towards any social care services they provide. If you already get a means-tested benefit, like pension credit or housing benefit, a successful claim could mean these benefits increase – you may even find you can claim these benefits for the first time. You should get advice to check how attendance allowance might impact on your other benefits.

You can find out more about attendance allowance and how to claim it on the GOV.UK website. 

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Employment and support allowance

Employment and Support Allowance offers financial support if you're unable to work and are under the qualifying age for pension credit. You can apply for ESA if you're employed, self-employed or unemployed. ESA replaced incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and parts of income support. You might be transferred to ESA if you've been claiming these old benefits. 

There are two types of ESA. You can claim one or both depending on your circumstances:

  • Contributory ESA is based on your National Insurance contribution record. You can find out about the contribution requirements on the Citizens Advice website.  Any occupational or personal pension you get may affect the amount you are paid, but not any other income or savings you and your partner may have.  It is taxable.  If you are put in the work-related activity group, benefit will only be paid for a year. You may be able to claim income-related ESA at this stage (see below). A new claim for contributory ESA may also be possible at some point, but you should get advice about this. The HMRC website has information on how to check your national insurance contribution record.
  • Income-related ESA is based on the amount of income and savings you and your partner may have. If you (and your partner) have savings over £16,000 you usually cannot get income-related ESA. You also cannot get this type of ESA if your partner works 24 hours or more a week. Help with mortgage costs may be included. Income-related ESA does not have a time limit. (Income related ESA is due to be replaced by Universal Credit over the next few years and has already been replaced in a small number of areas across the UK). 

You must go to a Working Capability Assessment while your ESA claim is being assessed. You will then be placed in either a work-related activity group or the support group. The main way of claiming ESA is by phone (0800 055 6688 or textphone 0800 023 4888). However you can also claim by printing the form and posting it to Jobcentre Plus.

You can find out more about ESA on GOV.UK. Disability Rights UK have a lot of information about ESA and the transfer of people to ESA. 

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Industrial injuries benefit

Industrial injuries benefit is for those who have had an accident at work or who suffer from a prescribed disease. 

If you have an illness or disability caused by an accident at work, you may be able to claim industrial injuries disablement benefit. You may also be able to claim if you are suffering from one of a list of diseases or conditions known to be a risk in a job you have done at some point. You cannot claim if you were self-employed in the job that caused your accident or disease.

Industrial injuries disablement benefit is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the amount you get depends on how badly you are affected by the accident or disease. It is not taxable and there is no time limit for claiming, so it does not matter how long ago the accident or disease occurred.

Check the GOV.UK website for more information about industrial injuries disablement benefit, including how to claim.

A similar scheme run the by Service Personnel and Veterans Agency exists for people who have an illness or disability caused (or made worse) by service in the forces. Again, there is no time limit for claiming and service in the Territorial Army is included.  More information about this scheme can be found on the Veterans Agency website.

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Armed forces independence payment (AFIP)

The AFIP is an alternative to personal independent payment and disability living allowance for service personnel and veterans seriously injured as a result of service. Your income does not affect the amount you get and the payment is not taxable.

The Turn2Us website has more information about the qualifying conditions for AFIP. As with DLA and PIP if you are awarded AFIP you may qualify for extra money in other means-tested benefits and tax credits.