As a part of the Welfare Reform Bill, Disability Living Allowance is now being replaced with Personal Independence Payment for those of working age. As 2015 progresses it will be rolled across different postcodes. Meanwhile new claimants, regardless of where they live, must apply for Personal Independence Payment.
The UK Government claims Personal Independence Payment will be more efficient and easier to understand than Disability Living Allowance. It hopes this change in benefits will reduce the welfare benefits bill by £2 billion by 2016. The change is causing great concern and anxiety for people living with disability, in particular those living with head injury.
Personal Independence Payment applicants must undergo an external face to face assessment, set by a particular criterion of eligibility. Individual’s ability to perform 12 daily living activities will be assessed.
The activities include preparing food, taking nutrition, managing therapy or monitoring a health condition, washing and bathing, managing toilet needs or incontinence and dressing and undressing. Other activities included are communicating verbally, reading and understanding signs, symbols and words, engaging with other people face to face, making budgeting decisions, planning and following journeys and moving around. Eligibility will now be under constant assessment, gone are the days of any lifetime awards.
How the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment impacts people with head injuries
The most debated change to the criteria is the mobility component. This assesses whether a person is deemed ‘virtually unable to walk’. Under Disability Living Allowance they looked for the ability to walk more than 50 meters. Under Personal Independence Payment the cut off distance is around 20 meters.
However, for those with a Head Injury they would be able to accumulate points if they struggle in planning and following journeys and moving around. Depending on the level of ‘guidance and supervision’ they would need in order to take familiar and unfamiliar journeys it could help them score highly on the mobility component to ensure they get the higher rate.
Other changes to the criteria that will benefit those living with head injury are ‘engaging with other people’ and the ability to ‘make budgeting decisions’ which were never considered under Disability Living Allowance.
The UK Government has changed a benefit which was deemed flexible and open ended to one which is now believed to be rigid and based on a specific, restricted criterion. However, for those suffering with a head injury Personal Independence Payment takes into consideration the individual’s requirements for prompts, reminders, encouragement and supervision to perform tasks. Along with taking into consideration the need for any aids used to perform the tasks, this will include memory aids, all of which will give the individual points in most of the activities.
Nevertheless, the biggest concern throughout the whole process is the medical assessments individuals will have to undergo. The expertise of staff undertaking these assessments in relation to head injury and the impact this could have upon the individual is worrying. Not to mention the impact lengthy delays of benefit payments has upon vulnerable people.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a team of Serious Injury Solicitors who specialise in brain injury compensation claims. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.
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