BENEFITS EXPERT: Claimants will get extra help at an earlier period of time
From April 4 there will be changes to people claiming Universal Credit and/or New Style Employment allowance under Special Rules, these changes will also apply to current claims for these benefits if the claimant meets the conditions for Special Rules.
In essence, Special Rules apply when a claimant has a diagnosis of a terminal illness.
Currently for Special Rules to apply the claimants GP, specialist or other health professional must complete a DS1500 form certifying they expect the claimant to die in the next six months.
Please note that if death does not occur within the six month period it does not mean claimants run the risk of benefit overpayments, sanctions, etc.
The GP, etc. must only provide that they reasonably expect death within this period.
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Claiming under Special Rules means that if this is a new claim it will be fast tracked; it also means the usual WCA assessment process does not apply, claimants will automatically be deemed to be incapable of any type of work and their benefits will usually increase because of this.
There will also be no need to provide continuing sick notes.
If Special Rules apply for an existing UC/ESA claim then again the additional payments will be fast-tracked, requirements for fit notes will end.
The six-month period has been increased to 12 months which will allow claimants to get additional support at an earlier period and brings England in line with the other devolved areas of Great Britain.
Special Rules requirements also apply to Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance: if they apply to a claimant then they’ll automatically get the highest rate of the care elements of these benefits (but not the mobility elements if applicable), the claim will be fast tracked and a medical assessment won’t be needed.
Parliament will also be changing the six-month period to 12 months but there is currently no timescale for when this will happen as it requires new legislation and other events may delay the introduction of such legislation.
Again for the other devolved regions of Great Britain the changes for DLA, PIP & AA under Special Rules is already in effect or will be before England.