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Can I claim any state benefits after a serious injury?

The consequences of suffering a serious injury can be devastating and may affect your ability to work and support your family. Welfare benefits after a serious injury can be a complicated matter and so it is always useful to do your research.

There is a wide range of benefits available, and each has their own set of rules and procedures for claiming. Some of the more common benefits you can claim after a serious injury include:

Statutory Sick pay (SSP)

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

  • This is a benefit available for people who have had an accident at work or suffered an illness as a result of their working environment. The scheme also covers people who were not employees but were on an approved training course when the incident took place and is paid weekly.
  • Under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, claimants are assessed to help understand the degree to which they have become disabled. The minimum disability covered is 14% of a fully abled person’s ability to work. This would therefore enable you to receive 14% of the full monthly benefit. The amount of benefit depends on the extent of your disablement. For example, if you were assessed at 40%, you would receive a slightly higher benefit than those at 14%.
  • Self Employed people are not covered by this benefit

There are three main disability benefits – Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance (AA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They are based on long term difficulties due to an illness or disability and are not affected by earnings, most other benefits, income or savings.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

  • This is a benefit for people who need assistance with their care or mobility for people who are aged 16 to 64.
  • 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.
  • You must have had care and/or mobility issues for a least three months before a claim is made.

Attendance Allowance (AA)

  • Attendance Allowance is a tax free benefit for people aged 65 and older who need help with personal care or require supervision to remain safe, either due to physical or mental disability or illness.
  • There is a qualifying period of six months which means you must have the needs for at least that time.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

  • This is a benefit available for children under 16 years old who need assistance with their care or their mobility

Other benefits you may also be able to claim for include:

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.
  • You cannot claim ESA whilst SSP is in payment, but it can be paid in addition to contractual or occupational sick pay.
  • This is a non means- tested benefit so is not affected by savings and most other income that you or your partner have.
  • You will need a ‘fit note’ from your doctor or the hospital to confirm the period you will not be able to work for. If there has been a delay in you being able to claim – as is perfectly normal when you are first injured – you can request backdating of up to three months.
  • As part of the claim you will need to go through a work capability assessment. This involves having to complete a questionnaire and, in most cases, an assessment. The outcome will determine if you can continue receiving the benefit and at which rate.

Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)

  • ESA is an income replacement benefit to assist people with their living costs if they’re too unwell or disabled to work full time.
  • 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.

Universal Credit

  • This is a means tested benefit for people of working age who are on a low income or who are looking for work, are a lone parent, if you care for someone or if you’re unable to work due to sickness or a disability. 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.

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.

What are means-tested and non means-tested benefits?

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.

Non means-tested benefits are payments that don’t take into account a person’s income and capital.

Non means-tested benefits include:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • State Pension
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Contribution Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance/Statutory Maternity / Paternity/ Shared Parental / Adoption Pay

Will the benefits be recovered from my compensation?

It is important to be aware that if your claim is successful it will be necessary for any DWP benefits you have received as a result of the injury to be deducted from your compensation payment and repaid to DWP, this is handled by the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU).

As you will have read in last week’s article, compensation is split into 2 categories. Firstly, compensation for pain and suffering, called “General Damages” and secondly, other losses called “Special Damages” which relate to your loss of wages and any other losses as a direct result of your accident.

DWP benefits can only be deducted from your special damages e.g., loss of earnings, and therefore any compensation in respect of pain and suffering will not be affected. You must always keep you solicitor informed of any changes in your benefit situation, as this can materially affect your claim.

Does my compensation affect my benefits?

Capital affects means tested benefits including:

  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit.

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.

How can a Personal Injury Trust Help?

If you receive any means tested benefits you can use a personal injury trust to avoid losing your eligibility after a compensation claim. Money in a personal injury trust can only be accessed by “trustees” – usually you and at least one other close relative or friend.

Each trustee must agree to any money being released from the trust, but the funds can pay for anything from housing adaptations to mobility equipment.

If you have been involved in a serious accident because of the negligence of a Third Party then please do not hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation (by phone, video or in-person). Our Solicitors can advise you on what welfare benefits you will be able to claim to help support you and your family after the accident.

Our main number is 01623 468468 or complete the enquiry form below.

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