There are a range of state welfare and local authority benefits that may be available to vulnerable people, including those who have brain injury or other physical disability or mental impairment.
Identifying benefit entitlement and making a successful claim by understanding the eligibility criteria is key to unlocking support.
The process of applying for state benefits and support is not always straightforward even for those applying on behalf of a vulnerable adult or child. It can be taxing and time consuming or even intimidating for someone applying directly who has communication or memory difficulties.
It is important that vulnerable eligible benefit claimants are not put off from applying and that those caring for them do not overlook available benefits. This may extend to allowances such as Carers’ Allowance should your loved one require full time care.
The state assistance and benefits available will depend on age, the extent of any disability a vulnerable person may suffer and their individual’s circumstances. Mental health conditions should not be overlooked, as these may be treated in law as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 where there is a long-term effect on normal day-to-day activity.
Some benefits are means-tested meaning that qualification is linked to income and capital. Others are dependent on qualifying National Insurance contributions or determined by the specific nature and extent of any disability or disadvantage a person may have.
For some it is important that evidence is obtained from a professional, such as a GP or social worker, to support a claim for benefits. This must be provided by the individual claiming or a representative on their behalf. There is no obligation on the DWP to collect such material, even when dealing with claims from the most vulnerable individuals.
When we are acting for vulnerable clients, signposting benefit entitlement is part of what we do. Equally where we have acted to recover damages following an injury we can advise on personal injury trusts to ensure benefit entitlement is not affected.
Alternatively, to find out exactly what financial and other support you may be entitled to, start with your local Jobcentre Plus or the Jobcentre Plus website at www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk or talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau www.citizensadvice.org.uk. Many charities and voluntary organisations also provide invaluable guidance and assistance, both practical and financial.
You can go online at the www.gov.uk website to use an independent benefits calculator to find out what benefits you could get, how to claim, and how your benefits will be affected if you start work. A similar online benefits calculator is also available on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.
The www.gov.uk website features an A-Z list of the various kinds of benefit available and a similarly convenient A–Z listing of various charities offering help for those with some form of impairment can be found on the Scope UK website.