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In working out how you can pay for the care that you need or what help you can afford, it is important to consider the contributions that can come from welfare or social security benefits.

There are a number of benefits that are intended to specifically help people with care needs.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to replace Disability Living Allowance

The main disability benefit for people aged 16-64 was Disability Living Allowance (DLA). On the 10 June 2013, Personal Independence Payments (PIP) began to be rolled out in place of Disability Living Allowance. PIP will be rolled out over three years, starting with those who make new applications.

You may be eligible for PIP if you have walking difficulties, need help with preparing or eating food, have trouble reading and communicating, or if you need help with personal care. This has to have been the case for at least three months and is likely to continue for at least nine months more at the point of any claim (although there are special rules if it is considered that you have less than six months to live). There are two elements, the mobility component and the daily living component, which can be awarded in isolation or jointly. Each has more than one rate depending on need.

If your situation changes, such that you no longer have the same difficulties in relation to everyday care tasks or getting out and about, then you need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This includes if you spend any time in hospital or a care home. This can be done on the phone.

PIP payments are usually made every four weeks directly into your bank account. As of June 2013, the maximum amount of PIP that anyone can receive is £134.40 per week.

If you think you might be eligible for PIP, then you need to phone the DWP on 0800 917 2222.  You will need to have contact details to hand, your National Insurance Number, bank or building society details and your doctor’s name, as well as some other details about time spent living abroad, in a care home, or in hospital. Once this is done you’ll be sent a form to complete about ‘How Your Condition Affects You’ and there may be a face-to-face assessment, as the amount you get is based on what you can do rather than what condition you have.   

You can get further help and advice from the PIP helpline 0845 850 3322, from local advice services such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or by finding local support through the GOV.UK postcode search. It is well worth the time getting advice and support to complete the form and guide you through the system. 

Attendance Allowance

If you are over 64 and have not already been receiving DLA, then you may be entitled to Attendance Allowance, (AA), which is the main disability benefit for older people. To be eligible, you must be disabled in some way and that disability be severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you. It is intended to cover the 'additional costs incurred' as a direct result of disability. There are two rates depending on whether you need assistance during the day or night or both. Sometimes a medical examination may be required before a claim for Attendance Allowance can be approved. As of May 2012, the most that you could receive through AA is £77.45 per week.

Just as with DLA, Attendance Allowance is not means-tested or taxable, and there is no restriction on what you can actually spend the money on. You can get advice on claiming AA from the same advice line on 0800 243 355.

Being in receipt of DLA or AA can have knock-on effects on other help that you may receive, as it produces additional entitlements in relation to such things as Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

The mobility component of DLA cannot be taken into account as income when Councils are doing their financial assessments, but other benefits as described above can be.

Pension Credit

According to Age UK, 1 in 3 of the four million people who are eligible for pension credit are not claiming it. There are two elements to Pension Credit: the Guarantee Credit (what most people call Pension Credit) and the Savings Credit.

Guarantee Credit

The Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit is available to those who are of State pension age and tops up income to £142.70 if you are single and £217.90 for partners. It is means tested, however the amount that you are eligible may well be more if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or certain housing costs, such as mortgage interest payments.

Savings Credit

This is the second element to the pension credit and is a reward for those who have tired to save for their retirement over and above the Basic State Pension.

People are likely to be entitled to get some money from Savings Credit if the money they have coming in is up to £189.05 a week (single) or up to £277.23 a week (for couples). Savings Credit is currently worth up to £18.54 a week for a single person (£23.73 for couples). Even if you don't qualify for the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you may qualify for the Savings Credit.

It is worth applying for Pension Credit even if you are only entitled to a very small amount, as if you are granted Pension Credit then it can help you qualify for other benefits such as Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit (if you are a tenant) and some other financial helps such as help with dental treatment fees.  If you get Pension Credit, then you are also eligible for Cold Weather Payments, which means that a payment of £25.00 is paid automatically for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November to 31 March.

If you want to apply for Pension Credit then the easiest way is to apply by phone by calling the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 or Textphone 0800 169 0133

You will need to have the following information available

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Information about your savings, investments and income
  • Details of the account into which you would like any Pension Credit to be paid.

Age UK have created an excellent document called 'More money in your pocket', which can be downloaded here for more information

Disabled Facilities Grant

It may be that you are finding it difficult to use the stairs or get in and out of the bath. Dealing with this may require more major adaptations to the property, such as the construction of a level-access shower, building an extension or redesigning your kitchen. In which case you might qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) from the Council. This can be for up to £30,000 (£36,000 in Wales) and the criteria are pretty broad, but the work will have to be recommended by an Occupational Therapist and the grant is means-tested. 

Disabled Facilities Grant is means tested and is only available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as Scotland has its own system. You can find out more about eligibility and how to claim here

Other welfare benefits that might be relevant include Employment and Support Allowance (see YtB's guidance on earning money), which was formerly known as Incapacity Benefit and Carers Allowance (see YtB's guidance carers personal budgets)

The charity Turn2us has an online benefits calculator, which can help you work out what you may be able to access.

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