Disability Living Allowance
Although we may be living longer, the chances of a disabling medical condition remain present throughout many retirement years.
Limited assistance is available if you are disabled and these are designed to help towards meeting the additional living expenses you face because of your disability.
Previously, this has taken the form of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), but this is being phased out, to be replaced by a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and it is this for which new claimants need to apply.
If you are already in receipt of DLA, and were born on or before the 8th of April 1948, payments will continue to be made for as long as you need them. If you were under 65 years of age on the 8th of April 2013, you will be reassessed for the new PIP when DLA is finally withdrawn in 2018. Personal Independence Payments, however, are not available for those aged over 65, who might instead qualify for an Attendance Allowance.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – rates
- DLA is calculated according to two components – the need for care and the degree to which your mobility is impaired. Both components are also graded according to higher and lower rates;
- currently care component payments range between £21.80 and £82.30 a week;
- the mobility allowance varies between £21.80 and £57.45 a week;
Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – rates
- PIPs, on the other hand, are only payable to those aged between 16 and 65 – so of little practical benefit to those who have retired;
- this is a non-means tested allowance for the over 65s who need a degree of support or care, when your ability to look after yourself is impaired by a mental or physical illness or disability;
- there are two bases for qualification, with payments currently of £55.10 a week if you need care during either the day or the night; and £82.30 a week if you need help and support during both the day and the night.
A comparison of the figures for the former Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance reveals that the level of financial support available for those who need care at home during their retirement have been significantly decreased.
Housing Benefit is another of the publicly funded sources of help – for those of working age and for the retired – that is being phased out and replaced by Universal Credit.
Housing Benefit is intended purely to help people on low incomes to pay their rent. It is available only for tenants and not for those looking to pay a mortgage or other form of home loan.
Housing benefit is paid by your local council and the amount you get depends on a range of factors such as the amount of rent you pay, what income you have – including that from other benefits – and where you live.
A story in the Mirror newspaper on the 23rd of November explains some of the background to the introduction of Universal Credit, which is intended eventually to replace a whole catalogue of existing benefits – Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Working and Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
When it comes into nationwide effect, however, Universal Credit is not available to anyone over the state pension age. Instead, pensioners seeking financial help with the payment of rent or any other expenditure if their income is less than the current maximum state pension payment of £155.60 a week