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Know your disability rights

17 August 2018 ( 27 February 2020 )

As we age, minor niggles with our health can become a serious – and costly – problem. However, there are state benefits to help. The rules are complex, but don’t be put off. You have paid taxes all your life for others and now is the time to take something back yourself. Here is a brief summary…

Key on a keyboard with the word Benefits on it
If you need help, then find out about the benefits you could be claiming.

Personal Independence Payment

PIP is a relatively new benefit and is replacing the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). You cannot claim PIP after you reach 65, but if you are already on DLA it can continue. You can keep receiving DLA if you were born on or before 8 April 1948 and have an existing claim.

With PIP you receive either £58.70 or £87.65 a week, depending on how severely your physical or mental disability affects you. It is paid on the basis of what you can and cannot do for yourself, such as washing, bathing, budgeting, making decisions and so on. The rules are set down in a series of what are called ‘descriptors’.

There is also a mobility component depending on how far you can walk or how capable you are at planning and executing journeys; it is £61.20 a week or £23.20 for those who are more mobile. The higher rate can be used to lease a car through the Motability Scheme.

Attendance Allowance

If you are already aged 65 or over, consider claiming Attendance Allowance. It is paid on a different basis from PIP. You qualify if you are physically or mentally disabled and need help with personal care or supervision to stay safe. You get the lower rate of £58.70 a week if you need help from another person by day or night. You’re paid the higher rate of £87.65 if you need 24-hour help. You must have needed that care for at least six months.

If you are terminally ill, you automatically get the higher rate without waiting.

Carer’s Allowance

If you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who gets PIP or Attendance Allowance (or DLA at the middle or higher rates), you should qualify for a Carer’s Allowance of £67.25 a week from 6 April 2020. However, if you also have a job and earn more than £120 net a week, you are unlikely to be eligible. If you are entitled to a state pension, you will receive the Carer’s Allowance only if it is more than your pension. However, it can still be worthwhile claiming the allowance, as simply having the right to it may enhance the means-tested benefits you receive.

Universal Credit

This controversial and much-discussed benefit replaced six other benefits – income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Income Support –for people under the women’s state pension age, which will match men’s state pension age at 66 from October 2020. Universal Credit (UC) rules are complex. It tops up incomes to a certain level depending on your circumstances. There are extra amounts available for people with disabilities, carers and children.

Pension Credit

People born before 6 November 1953 can claim Pension Credit to top up their income to £167.25 a week for a single person or £255.25 for a couple. The qualifying age is set at the state pension age for women, which became the same as that for men from 6 March 2019. If you or a partner have a disability or are a carer, the rates can be higher.

Housing Benefit

People with disabilities can get help with their rent through Housing Benefit. Amounts rise considerably at state pension age. If you have been refused, it is worth claiming again.

The same applies to council tax reduction, which is a means-tested cut in your council tax that can be reduced to zero for those over 65. Disabled people get higher amounts of both these benefits. Some people with severe disabilities can get their council tax band reduced, and anyone living alone can claim a 25% reduction. Contact your local council. Social services can help with mobility needs and home adaptations.

More information on benefits

Disability Rights UK has free factsheets to download and you can also buy a Disability Rights Handbook.

Turn2Us has guides to benefits, a benefits calculator, plus a database of charities that give grants.

Carers UK and Carers Trust both have information for carers and on disability issues.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.