W h a t H e l p I s A v a i l a b l e ?
- Benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions -
There are numerous options for those not able to work, or who need a little extra help with things. The two main benefits you may be entitled to are Disability Living Allowance and Employment Support Allowance.
- Personal Independence Payments -
There are many different types of Disability Living Allowance or DLA, which is a tax-free benefit for disabled children and adults to help with extra costs you may have if you are disabled. DLA is gradually being replaced by Personal Independence Payment or PIP. The Department of Work and Pensions will assess individuals who apply to determine what level of help they need.
You can find a very useful guide on how to fill in a DLA application form as it is a very long process.
Some people find they have to take their case to appeal or to a local tribunal service. It is worth pursuing this as PoTs is now a recognised illness with the Department for Work and Pensions.
You can apply for DLA even if you are in some form of employment.
- Employment Support Allowance -
Employment Support Allowance or ESA provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability. It also provides personalised support to those who are able to work. You may be limited if you live with or are married to someone who has an income. Please check the following link for further information.
- Blue Badge (Car Parking) -
If you drive or you are a passenger in a car and cannot walk very far or need to use a wheelchair/scooter, you may find that a blue badge is very useful. The blue badge scheme operates all across the UK and this can be obtained by filling out an application form from your local council website. You will need to send a photocopy of your proof of benefit, a doctor’s letter from your GP or specialist as well as various forms of identification. If you are turned down the first time, there is the option to appeal the decision.
Apart from being able to park in disabled parking spaces, a large majority of car parks do not charge for disabled blue badge holders, but always check as it is different in every car park. Rules for parking in London can differ in each borough. Make sure you check the blue badge hand book to see where it is legal to park with your badge in different areas in London.
- Radar Key -
You can apply to have a Radar key. This allows access to disabled toilet facilities where the door to the toilet is usually kept locked. You do not need to prove your disability and will need to pay a small charge for the key.
- Freedom Pass -
For those of you who live in London and are a permanent resident of one of the London boroughs, then you are entitled to a Freedom Pass. This provides you with free unlimited travel across London’s tube, bus, tram, dlr and overground networks. The pass can also be used on some local train routes in and out of London. The Freedom Pass can also be used across the UK bus network.
You will need a doctor’s letter, preferably from your POTs specialist (or EDS if this is also an issue to your mobility), proof of your benefit and you will have to undergo a medical assessment.
- Local Train Network Priority Pass -
Most train companies in the UK run a scheme where you can apply for a priority card which allows you to show your card to get a seat on the train at busy times. Many people with an invisible illness such as POTs feel uncomfortable about asking to sit down as they are greeted with funny looks as they do not look disabled or unwell. This is legitimate proof that you have a disability. Again you will be asked to prove your disability by showing your proof of benefit and a doctor’s letter from your GP or specialist will always help.
- Local Authority Bus Pass -
You may be entitled to a bus pass from your local authority if you are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. It is worth applying though as some people have been successful in gaining passes, have not been in receipt of this benefit. This will allow you to use your local and UK bus network, during off peak hours.
- Congestion Charge Discount -
If you visit London on a regular basis and find you are in and out of the congestion charge zone a lot, then you can apply to get a discount (Please note: you must have a blue badge to apply for this). You pay just £10 a year and can then use a special exemption pass if you are disabled, which means you do not have to pay each time you travel.