How the Changes to Disability Benefits may Affect you

As of the 27th January there will be significant changes to the U.K benefits system for people that currently receive a Severe Disability Premium. Here is how it may affect you.

The Severe Disability Premium is an extra amount included in certain legacy benefits to support those with the costs of having a disability or a long-term illness. The rules of who is eligible for a SDP can be confusing so it is referring to the Turn2Us Severe Disability Disability guide for advice.

Currently, those who have a Severe Disability Benefit (SDP) included as part of their Income Support, Housing benefit or Income Related Jobseeker’s Allowance/Employment & Support Allowance are blocked from claiming Universal Credit. The reasoning behind this decision was the fact that there is no equivalent provision included in Universal Credit, meaning claimants were blocked from migrating over to UC to ensure they did not end up worse off financially.

However, as of the 27th of January this will all change and those who are subject to a change in their circumstances are now able to transfer over to Universal Credit, despite being eligible for a SDP in the last month. What constitutes a change of circumstances can be confusing and there is a brief guide from Turn2Us about what change requires you to claim an alternative benefit. If you are unsure whether you need to inform the DWP, HMRC or other benefit provide about change in your circumstances then you should call Worcester Citizens Advice on 0808 278 7891 or by going to their website. Non-Worcester City residents should call the national Citizens Advice Advice-line on 0800 144 8848 or the Help to Claim Team on 0800 144 8444.

Currently the SDP is set at an additional £66.95 per week for single people and at £133.90 per week for couples (which is paid on top of what the claimant already receives in legacy benefits). Whilst there is no equivalent payment on Universal Credit, those that are required to claim Universal Credit after the 27th may be eligible for a Transitional Element. The Transitional Element rates are as follows:

Single People:

  • Those with a Limited Capability for Work Element (LCWRA) included in your UC Award: £120 a month
  • Those without a LCWRA included in your UC Award: £285 a month

Couples:

  • The Higher SDP Rate was payable in your legacy benefit: £405 a month
  • You weren’t getting the SDP rate and a LCWRA element is included in your UC award for either of you: £120 a month
  • You weren’t getting the higher SDP rate and no LCWRA element is included in your UC award for either of you

If you are in the Support Group as part of your ESA claim then you will automatically be grated the LCRWA Element. For more information on what group you will be placed in on UC go to Entitled to’s Universal Credit Limited Capability for Work guide.

There are some circumstances in which claimants who become the member of a couple with someone already claiming UC will be unable to access the SDP Transitional Element. If you are unsure about whether you will qualify for the element you should contact your local Citizens Advice or the Help to Claim Team on 0800 144 8444.

Sadly this is further evidence of the creation of a system which is designed to be complicated and extremely difficult for the vulnerable in our society to navigate. If you have any worries or queries about the changes then get in contact with you local advice agencies to ensure you are receiving all that you are entitled to. If you are not comfortable talking to an adviser on the phone you can check your benefit entitlement via the Citizens Advice Webchat function or you can use one of the many benefit calculators online (however please note these are prone to being slightly inaccurate).

It is estimated that £16 billion in means tested benefits remain unclaimed each year so it is essential people check their entitlement and seek advice – particularly in these difficult times.

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