Benefit payments can be received at a higher rate and more quickly than usual if a claimant is expected to have less than six months to live. However, the DWP confirmed in July that this would be extended to 12 months and yesterday, it was confirmed when these changes are expected to come through.
12-month end-of-life approach
Recently, Peter Aldous, the MP for the Waveney constituency in Suffolk, questioned the DWP in Parliament on when the legislative proposals to introduce a 12 month eligibility definition for the special rules for terminal Illness would be brought forward.
Yesterday, Chloe Smith, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work at the DWP, responded. She said: “The Department plans to implement the 12-month end-of-life approach across five DWP benefits, beginning in Universal Credit alongside Employment and Support Allowance next year.
“This will be followed by Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment subject to Parliamentary processes.”
As this updated guidance was released, it was confirmed the move would ensure people in the final year of their life would receive vital financial support quicker than they can do at present and at the highest rate through revised special rules.
Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disabled People, broke down how the simplification of the rules would help claimants.
“Being diagnosed with a terminal illness is devastating and this change will increase much needed support for people who are nearing the end of their lives,” he said.
“The new 12-month approach will ensure people get the financial help they need as quickly as possible in the most challenging of times. We have carefully considered the best approach and I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to our work in reaching this outcome.”
Under the updated rules, clinicians still have discretion and will be supported by a realistic and straightforward definition, which aligns with current NHS practice.
The changes came following a DWP evaluation which heard the views of people nearing the end of their lives, their families and friends, the organisations supporting them and the clinicians involved in their care.
Matthew Reed, the Chief Executive of the end of life charity Marie Curie, welcomed these changes.
“Following years of campaigning for change, Marie Curie welcomed the news which is a significant step forward and a tribute to all those who bravely shared their experiences of the benefits system,” he said.
“This will help ensure that more dying people can concentrate on making the most of the limited time they have left, rather than worrying about their finances. Marie Curie believes that everyone has the right to the best end of life care and support. There is more to be done, but this is important progress and we look forward to working with the UK Government to bring in this change as quickly as possible.
“Marie Curie will continue to play our part in making the case for people living with terminal illness to receive the financial support they need at the end of life, and ensuring that terminally ill people and their health professionals know what they are entitled to.”
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Currently, if a claimant is living with a terminal illness and their doctor or a medical professional has said they might have less than six months to live, they may get benefits at a higher rate or get extra money or, start getting payments quicker than usual. If a claimant lives longer than six months following a claim, their benefits will continue but their claim may be reviewed after three years.
Claimants will need to ask their medical professional to fill in a DS1500 form, so they can get benefits quicker. This form confirms their diagnosis and treatment plan.
Medical professionals can include GPs, hospital doctors and registered nurses. They will send the form to the DWP to support the benefit application, or claimants can send it themselves.
An appointee will need to be assigned if someone wants to apply on another’s behalf unless the benefit being claimed for is Attendance Allowance, PIP or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children.
As the rules on benefits can be complicated, the Government advises claimants utilise benefit calculators where they can. There are independent calculators to help users find out what benefits they could get, how to claim them and how their benefits will be affected if they start work.
These calculators are free to use and while the Government no longer provides the service itself, it does highlight a number of appropriate sources. This includes the calculators found at Policy in Practice, entitledto and Turn2us.
When using these calculators, users will need to have accurate information about their savings, income levels, existing benefits and pensions, outgoings and council tax bills.
It should be noted these calculators cannot be used by those under the age of 18. They will also not give accurate results for those who are a prisoner, a student, not a British or Irish citizen, on strike, living outside the UK or living permanently in residential care or a nursing home.