Reform of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
As part of their programme of welfare benefit reform the Coalition Government is proposing to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The Government plans to introduce PIP in 2013/14 when it will begin reassessing people of working age (16-64) who currently receive DLA to see if they qualify for the new benefit. No decision has been taken as yet on whether to also reassess children and people aged 65 and over.
PIP will be similar to DLA in that it will remain a non-means tested, non-taxable cash benefit to help people with disabilities meet the extra costs of living with a disability (to spend as they see fit). PIP will continue to be available to people regardless of their employment status and will not be dependent on National Insurance contributions. PIP will also be comparable to DLA in that it is made up of two components: Mobility (based on the individual’s ability to get around) and Daily Living (based on the individual’s ability to carry out other key activities necessary to participate in every day life). However, there will only be two rates for each of these components, unlike the three rates for the DLA care component.
There are, however, some significant differences between DLA and its proposed replacement, PIP:
• Applicants will have to qualify for PIP for six months, and be expected to qualify for a further six months, before an award can be made.
• Automatic entitlements for those with certain conditions will cease (but the special rules for people diagnosed with terminal illness will remain).
• The assessment process will focus more on the impact the disability has on the day to day life of the applicant rather than the disability itself; with a greater emphasis on what people can do rather than what they can’t
• Greater account will be taken of aids and adaptations people use.
• Most applicants for PIP will have a face-to-face meeting with an independent health professional, allowing a more objective, in depth analysis of an individual’s circumstances.
The Government is currently holding a public consultation on these proposed changes to DLA, and is asking people with disabilities, disability organisations and other interested parties to share their views. To take part in the consultation visit www.dwp.gov.uk/dla-reform where you can also read the reform proposals in full. If you do not have internet access you can call the DLA Reform Team on 020 7449 7688 and leave a message with your name, address and phone number asking them to send you a consultation document. The closing date for comments is Monday 14 February 2011.
More DLA News
From 11 April 2011 people under 65 ‘with the most severe visual impairment’ will qualify for the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). From November 2010 to March 2011 the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will phone people currently receiving the lower rate mobility component of DLA whose main disabling condition is recorded as sight loss to see if they qualify for the higher rate. If the DWP is satisfied the person meets the criteria their award will be changed so that payment of the higher rate will start in April 2011. For more information about these changes to DLA call the Royal National Institute of Blind People on 0303 123 9999.