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Welfare and benefits advice after serious injuries

The consequences of suffering a serious injury can be devastating and may affect your ability to work and support your family.

At Digby Brown, we have solicitors who specialise in serious injury cases and we recognise that the last thing you need is to be worrying about finances and how you are going to manage.

Our team of specialist Welfare Advisers can help you find out what benefits you are entitled to and assist with the claims process.

Our team has huge experience in dealing with clients with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and amputation injuries.

What benefits can I claim after serious injury?

There is a wide range of benefits available and each has their own set of rules for claiming.

Some of the more common benefits after serious injury that our Welfare Rights team can advise you on include:

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit for working age people that replaces a number of existing benefits and tax credits. It is designed to support people who have a low (or no) income with their basic living expenses and housing costs. The amount you can get depends on your circumstances and how much other income you have. You can continue to get Universal Credit if you are in work but have low earnings.

New Style Employment and Support Allowance

New Style ESA is a contributory benefit for people who are unable to work because of illness or disability. This means you may be able to get it if you’ve paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions in the 2 full tax years before the year you’re claiming in.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is a benefit for people who are disabled because of an accident at work, or unwell with a disease caused by certain types of work. The rate of benefit payable depends on the level of your disability. Self employed people are not covered by this benefit.

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a non means tested benefit for adults who have additional care and/or mobility needs due to an illness or disability. It is made up of two components: The Mobility component and The Daily Living component and you can be paid either component or both. Entitlement to PIP is based on the effect a long term health condition has on your daily life, not the condition itself.

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a non means tested benefit for children who have additional care or mobility needs. Your child must be under 16 years old to claim and have difficulty walking or need additional care in comparison a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability

Pension Credit

Pension Credit is extra money for low income pensioners to bring their weekly income up to a minimum amount. It is a means tested benefit and you must have reached the Pension Credit qualifying age to claim.

Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Reduction (CTR) is a national scheme in Scotland which can help you to pay your council tax if you have a low income. The local authority in your area runs the Council Tax Reduction scheme. If you are entitled to a CTR, your council tax bill is reduced.

Benefits which still exist but pre-date Universal Credit

Since Welfare Reform and the introduction of Universal Credit, there are now some benefits that are no longer available to claim - they have been replaced by Universal Credit.

Many people still receive these benefits while they are waiting to be moved to Universal Credit. Our Welfare Rights team can also help and advise on those old style benefits.

Some of the more common older style benefits include:

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance is a means tested benefit for people who have an illness or disability that affects their ability to work. It is payable if you have a low income and have not paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions. It can also top-up contributory Employment and Support Allowance. This benefit is no longer available for new claims; you should claim Universal Credit instead.

Income Support

This is a means tested benefit for carers, those who are pregnant or lone parents of a child under 5 years old to help with living costs. This benefit is no longer available for new claims; you should claim Universal Credit instead.

Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit is for people who are on a low income who need help to pay all or part of their rent. This benefit is no longer available for new claims; you should claim Universal Credit instead.

Important - If you are already claiming these older style benefits it is best to seek advice if you are considering changing to Universal Credit before DWP ask you to. This is because moving to Universal Credit can sometimes reduce the amount of benefit you receive.

Some benefits are means tested, what does that mean?

Means testing is where the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) looks at what income and capital you have available when deciding if you are entitled to benefits.

These benefits are available to people who can demonstrate that their income and capital are below a certain level. If your means (income and capital) are greater than your needs (the amount the government estimates you need to live on), the benefit is reduced or may not be paid at all, so the amount you are entitled to can vary from one person to another.

Does my compensation affect my benefit?

Yes it can. The reason for this is because capital affects means tested benefits. If your total household capital is more than £16,000, you are not allowed to claim most means-tested benefits. Capital between £6,000 and £16,000 will cause a reduction in your benefit.

If you receive a lump sum compensation payment which takes your capital over the DWP capital limits your benefits could be stopped or reduced as a result. This does not apply to people who have reached state pension age as DWP will ignore any payments of Personal Injury compensation in these circumstances.

Your compensation can also affect your entitlement to future state benefits. Our solicitors can speak to you about how you can continue to receive your benefit entitlement by setting up a personal injury trust.

What is a Personal Injury Trust and how can it help me with my benefits?

A personal injury trust is a type of trust fund set up using the compensation you receive from your personal injury claim.

The aim of this trust fund is to allow you to keep your compensation money even if you have to claim some kind of state benefit, either immediately or further down the line.

For example, a personal injury trust can protect your compensation against long-term care fees if you need to move into residential care in the future. Having a trust fund in place is the only legitimate method for you to protect your benefits.

Expert welfare and benefits advice

The benefits system is very complicated, can be extremely difficult to access and the rules are always changing. That’s why it is best to work with a firm of solicitors like Digby Brown who has huge experience in assisting clients to claim their rightful compensation but who can also offer expert welfare benefits advice when you need it.
 

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