Benefits – Not for all
Lately we have found that we are receiving more and more enquiries from people who have mental health problems seeking help in regards to benefits.
There have been some major changes to the benefits system over the last couple of years with the introduction of Universal Credit and tighter restrictions on Personal Independence Payment (PiP), which has now replaced Disability Living Allowance.
The main problem with these changes are that the assessment procedures and entitlement checks do not fully take in account for people who are diagnosed with a mental health condition, leaving many without money and vulnerable to debt.
The below video, produced by Tyneside Mind shows how Work Capability Assessments are not designed to assess people based on their mental health and instead focuses on people’s physical health.
Another problem faced by many of our callers is the lack of support for the application process, with may people unable to complete their claim online or not being able to make a claim at all. As well as this, there are many people who are being denied the money they are entitled to and are stuck with nowhere to turn during the appeals process.
What benefits are you entitled to?
There are several different types of benefits that you may be entitled to depending on your circumstances
- Universal Credit
Personal Independence Payment
Job Seekers Allowance
What benefits you are entitled to and how much you will receive will depend on your eligibility and circumstances. To find out what benefits you are entitled to you can use the Turn2Us online calculator: https://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk/AboutYou
Once you know which benefits you are entitled to, your next step will be to make a claim. You are able to apply for most benefits either online or by phone. You may also need to visit your local Jobcentre or fill out an application form by post.
To make a claim for Universal Credit: https://www.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/postcode-checker
To make a claim for ESA, you firstly need to check which of the three types of ESA you are entitled to. You can do this by using the Turn2Us calculator posted above or the one on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators
To make a claim for Personal Independence Payment: https://www.gov.uk/pip/how-to-claim
To make a claim for Job Seekers Allowance: https://www.dwpe-services.direct.gov.uk/portal/page/portal/jsaol/lp
Help and support
Support for helping people complete benefit applications is in high demand. Unfortunately, due to funding cuts, the number of people who able to provide this services is getting smaller.
For help finding someone who can help you with your application you can
- Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau to see if they are aware of anyone in your area who can help.
- Search to see if there are any Rethink Mental Illness services or groups in your area that might be able to help you or point you in th right direction.
- Contact your nearest Local Mind to see if they can help or if they know of any one else who can
- Look for voluntary advocacy services in your area who might be able provide you with an advocate to help you with your application
If you have been denied benefits and need to make an appeal
Due to the way people are currently assessed, many people are being denied benefits for their mental health problems. If you have recently applied for benefits and have been unsuccessful you have the right to make an appeal within 30 days.
It is important that you provide as much supporting evidence for your appeal as possible. If you are undergoing treatment from the NHS, ask them to write you a letter. Your GP, psychiatrist, councilor, support group leader or any provider of services you are currently taking part in will also be able to provide you with a letter of evidence to support your claim.
If you are able to find an advocacy service, they may also be able to help you with your appeals process. As with the help and support section above, search for services and groups in your local area that may be able to help you in the event of an appeal.
Further reading and resources
Below are a number of links to various websites that provide more help and advice on claiming benefits, what you are entitled to and other general information that you may find useful.
Mental Health & Money Advice
Rethink Mental Illness