Disability Living Allowance rates 2009/2010

Note: Rates for 2010/11 are here.

.

Beware of simply adding 1.5% to IB rates, as many people get supplements on the basic rate to which the increase may or may not apply. For 2010-2011 DLA rates, click the link above.

.

Disability Living Allowance rates 2009/2010

Care component – high rate               £70.35

Care component – middle rate           £47.10

Care component – low rate                £18.65

Mobility component – high rate          £49.10

Mobility component – low rate            £18.65

Lots more benefits rates here.

What qualifies you for free NHS prescriptions?

Here’s a question I’ve not seen before “DLA – does it entitle you to free prescriptions?”

Simple answer, no. Very few things do, and the benefits that do are just Income Support, Income Related Jobseekers Allowance and Pension Credit (the latter is a bit disingenuous as you get Pension Credit at 60, and you also qualify for free scrips at 60 – sod all to do with Pension Credit).

Some medical conditions will get you free scrips, too:-

  • A permanent fistula requiring dressing.
  • Forms of hypoadrenalism such as Addison’s Disease.
  • Diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism.
  • Diabetes mellitus except where treatment is by diet alone.
  • Hypoparathyroidism.
  • Myasthenia gravis.
  • Myxoedema (underactive thyroid) or other conditions where supplemental thyroid hormone is necessary.
  • Epilepsy requiring regular anti-epilepsy medication.
  • If, because of a permanent disability, you cannot leave your home without help.

What pisses me – and a whole lot of other people – off is that incurable respiratory illness – COPD, bronchiectasis, asthma – don’t qualify, and neither do other life-threatening illnesses of which there are many. You may think that’s a fairly arbitrary selection, and I’d be inclined to agree. I don’t think it’s changed for decades, either (if at all).

There are a few other circumstances in which you’ll get free scrips – see here, but mostly, you’re on your own.

You can get a prepayment certificate, assuming you can afford it (some benefits just won’t stretch that far). A 3-month one will cost you £27.85 and a 12-month, £102.50.

ME/CFS and DLA…

The question of why ME/CFS sufferers have trouble getting DLA was raised today, so I thought I’d try to address it.

The biggest problem is that ME/CFS is almost entirely subjective, and diagnosis is based on the symptoms plus the patient’s medical history. There is no accepted diagnostic test, and no symptoms that specifically confirm the diagnosis. It is, therefore, very hard to prove, when claiming benefit,** you’re actually sick, despite the fact that you may be barely able to get out of bed. This isn’t helped by the fact that, while the World Health Organisation class ME/CFS as a neurological illness, the dishonest pricks at the DWP class it as “psycho-social” when there’s not the slightest evidence to support that. FFS, people are dying from ME/CFS – how the hell can it be a psychological problem?

** I went from being a superbly fit (within the limits imposed by my respiratory problems), cyclist, backpacker and rambler to someone who could barely get out of bed, and who walked with the aid of crutches, all in the space of a year – and yet even my own bloody GP refused to believe I was sick, and spent years, when they weren’t telling me I was imagining things, trying to prove I was mentally ill. It took me ten years, almost to the day, to get a diagnosis of ME/CFS. Bitter, me? Too ‘kin right!

Then there’s the problem of doctors who, in the face of 55 year’s worth of evidence since the first documented outbreak among staff at the Royal Free Hospital in 1954 – some of whom are still sick! – refuse to accept that ME/CFS exists at all.

The ME/CFS community, especially here in the UK, is beset by quacks and charlatans all claiming to be able to be able to cure ME/CFS – very often by getting the patient to talk it out, or change the way they think. This, in the minds of the DWP trolls, just reinforces their view that it’s all psychological, because you can’t bloody well cure a physical illness, which ME/CFS quite clearly is, by those means. It’s bullshit.

Occasionally, ME/CFS sufferers are their own worst enemies, because in desperation  they latch on to the most idiotic, and sometimes dangerous theories that appear from the realm of quackery – the most obvious one being unfounded food intolerance (NB – VEGA testing does NOT work!) – plus an assortment of utterly useless electronic and magnetic gizmos, that claim a lot and do nothing whatsoever. You bring stuff like that into a DLA medical examination, or a tribunal, and you’re probably doomed.

The major ME/CFS charities in the UK provide information on claiming benefits with DLA and, specifically, claiming DLA (it’s certainly possible to get DLA with ME/CFS – everyone I know with the illness is getting it – we just have to work a little harder than someone with an obvious disability or illness).

Action for ME has free benefits information sheets available as PDF download on this page and a lot more free information on this page too. Those which are available free online should be right-clicked and saved as a normal PDF file (If you don’t know how to do this, post a comment, tell me what browser you use, and I’ll post the details).

The MEA’s information is available at cost from their shop; download a PDF order form here. Their guide to claiming DLA, for example, is £3

There’s a page on my website that deals with quackery and ME/CFS – not just my opinion, there are supporting links to the excellent Quackwatch website (please let me know if any links don’t work). The link to my new blog brings you back here.

Disability Benefits 101…

One question that keeps cropping up – and I’ve addressed it here several times – is “Will a particular illness qualify me for/entitle me to DLA?” The answer is no.

Having an illness – any illness – is not a qualification for claiming any sort of disability benefits. Continue reading

War of attrition against the chronically sick and disabled…

If you are chronically sick and disabled in this country, you’ll have realised by now that you are very much a second-class citizen. If you doubt that, see this.

In addition, the Queen’s Speech, today, will reveal that benefits claimants are to be subject to lie detector tests – something the worst criminals will never encounter, because they’re not admissible in court, yet you can lose your benefit if you take a deep breath at the wrong time. Talking to DWP people makes you nervous? Yep, that’ll be picked up too, and may well be interpreted as guilty nervousness. If it is, kiss your benefit goodbye for a month, minimum. I know people, on benefits because of mental illness, who find it very difficult to communicate without displaying extreme nervousness, and I suspect these people will trigger this infernal device in droves.

By the way, the lie detector is already in use by 25 district councils, in their Housing Benefit offices. It’s not a polygraph, by the way, it’s a computer program that looks for stress indicators in the voice, indicating lying – as if anyone applying for benefits wouldn’t be stressed anyway.

What has really pissed me off, though, even before I’ve had my toast and marmalade, is this,from this morning’s Guardian:-

A Cabinet Office paper, which claims to be trying to put the emphasis on fair rules in the context of the difficult financial climate, says:

“As everyone enters difficult economic times … fair rules will become more important.

“If people perceive that not everyone is treated equally, that some get preferential treatment, that people who break the rules get away with it, respect for rules is undermined.”

You really couldn’t make it up – a football pitch on Everest would be more of a level playing-field. If you are chronically sick and disabled you’re treated worse than a criminal – where’s the equality in that? We shouldn’t be too surprised by this, though, as it’s just the latest and most savage stage in the government’s  unprecedented campaign of attrition againt benefit claimants, with particular emphasis on those of us unfortunate enough to be dependent upon disability benefits. By the way, for those of you young enough to be unfamiliar with that phrase, attrition means:-

Wearing down by friction, or, a gradual diminution in numbers or strength because of constant stress.

I would say, don’t let the bastards grind you down, but that, from today, would be futile. It’s OK to feel paranoid, because they really are out to get you.

An afterthought:- This is for those of you who are chronically sick and disabled – if you are to be interviewed by benefits personnel, council or DWP, ask for a home visit. You have that right, and it gets you away from their egregious lie detectors, which also operate on the telephone. Not that I’m suggesting you’d lie, but no system is perfect, and the lie detectors WILL pick up perfectly innocent people – and just one innocent victim is one too many.

DLA, COPD, Disability & ME/CFS questions…

Please Note: The question of COPD – will it kill you, and variations on that theme (will I recover, will I get better, etc), is addressed specifically in this post . All my COPD-specific posts are collected together here.

Note: this is a very long post, I’m afraid, so to find a specific item, use your browser’s Find function for a keyword search of this page and successive pages. This normally lives in Edit, in the toolbar, at least it does in Firefox, Opera and IE.

This post grew from my responses to Google searches that bring people to my blog, when what they’re looking for isn’t already covered. These searches generally relate to benefits, medications, Motability, ME/CFS and COPD, and for the most part, and I’ll do my best to cover them here. Note:- Benefit answers aren’t just off the top of my head, they’re properly researched, even if I already know the answer, as is anything else of which I don’t have personal knowledge.

February 10 2009 – this post is as long as it’s going to get; it’s a whisker away from 10,000 words, and this paragraph takes it past that level. In future new items will get their own individual posts. I’m reluctant to stop adding to this, as it’s my all-time most popular post, but I think it’s a matter of people being able to find information quickly. I’ve suggested, at the top, using the browser Find function, but people will still do their own thing, and scroll down, and there’s probably a limit at which they stop bothering. If you think I’m wrong, do tell me. By the way, 10,000 words is the equivalent of 20-25 A4 pages (depending on font and size), just to give it some perspective.

Obviously, by its nature, this is a work in progress, so if you have any questions about the above subjects, the areas in  which I have personal experience, post a question in Comments and if I can answer it, I will. (NOTE:- Comments are moderated before being posted, so I can read them and delete them for those who require confidentiality):-

M

Can my wife work if I get DLA?

Absolutely – it matters not at all who works, even you (see below). Conversely, if they qualify, both partners can claim DLA – one person’s claim has no effect on another.

Return to work and lose your DLA?

There is no reason why working, of itself, should cost you your DLA. DLA can be paid regardless of income, wages or savings. It is paid for mobility or care – or both – and the need is not automatically obviated by working. I believe that if a claimant starts work, then that will trigger a DLA review, and THAT may result in loss of benefit, but it need not. I used to know a guy who worked and claimed Mobility Allowance, as it was before it was DLA, but his disability was incontrovertible – he’d lost a leg, and no-one can argue with that. Were I able to return to work – fat chance – then, because of the nature of my disability, I would find it very hard to justify continuing to claim DLA, and I would almost certainly be re-assessed, and lose it. The bottom line – working does not automatically prevent you claiming DLA, or retaining it if you already have it, it all depends on what’s wrong with you.

Attendance Allowance & COPD

That depends on age. Up to the age of 65 the benefit is DLA; over 65 you can no longer claim DLA but you can claim Attendance Allowance. In either case, the benefit is payable for COPD, providing it is sufficiently disabling. As with any illness, simply having it isn’t a qualification, it’s the disability that counts.

“clenil modulite”+”alcohol”

Presumably the questioner wants to know if you can drink with Clenil Modulite, a steroid inhaler. The answer is yes. Unlike oral drugs, inhaled drugs go straight to the lungs, they don’t get there via the GI tract and the blood stream, so alcohol has little/no effect. There is, though, with CM at high doses (2 puffs 4 times daily and up), the prospect of systemic side effects like those you get with oral steroids, including weight gain, which alcohol will exacerbate.

DLA medical examination uk – how to pass

It’s not a matter of passing – it’s not a driving test and there are no right or wrong answers to the questions.

The simple answer is to always tell the truth. That is, the version of the truth which is beneficial to your claim. If, say, you can walk a mile every few months on a rare good day, but usually are restricted to a short distance, then the latter is the truth in reply to the questions about how far you can walk. Actually, the question is about how many metres/yards you can walk without pain or discomfort. In my case, as pain accompanies every thing I do, the answer is zero. If it’s, in your case, say 40 yards, don’t say 10 yards, because there’s a good chance they’ll take you for a walk – they did with me (and just saying ouch, ouch, when you reach your limit won’t wash!). Basically, it’s what your normal situation is that matters – you don’t tell them about good days. That’s not dishonesty, it’s irrelevant. You don’t say how much you can do if someone helps you, either. It’s all about your unaided capabilities.

Unlike in the past, you don’t apply for the components of DLA (they used to be separate benefits, Attendance Allowance and Mobility Allowance), you submit a blanket application and wait and see what you get.

A medical examination is pretty standard, to verify your disability, and if you take a lot of medication for your condition, you may think it’s a good idea to reduce it or just not take it – I couldn’t possibly comment. I would suggest, though, that you insist on being examined at home. My personal view is that if you are well enough to go trekking off across town – or further if you live in a rural area – then that might adversely influence how you are perceived.

If you are asked to perform any actions that you feel would be harmful, then refuse. I can’t kneel, for example, and if asked to demonstrate that, or climb stairs, or bend down – anything, in fact, that involves bending my knees beyond an absolute minimum, I would refuse, because it would damage my knees, the ligaments, and leg muscles, and I’d be even more disabled for weeks. They cannot refuse your benefit on the grounds of your refusal; you are within your rights to refuse to injure yourself. Explain, though, just don’t say no.

If you have a mental illness, then you may want to take a close friend with you who can speak for you, or seek a benefits advocate, if you feel it would be difficult for you to properly explain your situation. In fact, I would suggest that anyone does this if the claim is turned down and goes to appeal. One thing you should not do, at appeal, is come up with new stuff that you should have told them in the first place, it just makes them suspicious. Unless, of course, your condition has deteriorated in the meantime. And one thing to bear in mind is that most rejected claims are granted on appeal.

Appeals are a pain in the butt. I’ve never been to one, but I understand that you’re pretty much treated as if you’re lying. My advice is to be firm with them but, no matter how justified you might feel, never lose your temper. A favourite tactic is to repeatedly ask the same question. My advice is that asking twice is acceptable, more than that is not, and a polite “We’ve covered that at length, can we move on? would be perfectly in order.

I’m sorry I can’t be more precise than this, but everyone’s experience of the application process is different. I’ve never had any problems with benefits, though I’m wary of applying for the middle care rate (I already get lower care and higher mobility), as every time you apply you’re reassessed, and that’s risky.

I also know, very well (this isn’t hearsay from the Daily Mail!), a woman who is little more than a hypochondriac, yet in her time she has managed to get every disability benefit available, including direct payments to hire her own care staff. Go figure.

One final though – fill in the downloadable application form from here . That way you’ll have a copy of everything. Also, you may find it easier to type your answers on separate sheets of paper. This is acceptable as long as your name and NI number is at the top of each sheet, and you show the numbers of the questions your answers relate to. I also date and sign each page, but that’s not a requirement.

Clenil Modulite gains weight

Not necessarily. Like any other steroid, it all depends on the dose. As I say above, at high doses with this high-strength inhaler (2 puffs 4 times a day), you get pretty much the same systemic effects as with oral steroids like Prednisolone (Prednisone in the US), including weight gain, and you should carry a steroid card. Clenil Modulite is a replacement for Becloforte, and contains the same drug with a CFC-free propellant, so you should expect the same side-effects. In addition I’m convinced that it causes increased sputum production, which is not a good thing.

Tesco website access issues

For a major player in the online retail market, Tesco’s website is pretty rubbish. The only way to ensure proper functionality in all areas is to access it via Internet Explorer – it malfunctions badly and unpredictably with Firefox, though it seems OK with Opera.

How long am I contracted to my motability

I’m not entirely certain what the questioner is asking, but the standard period for DLA-based contracts (HP or lease), is three years.

Help, I can’t get d.l.a. and I’m ill

A common complaint sadly, but being ill isn’t a qualification for DLA – being disabled by your illness is – the two are quite different. There is some advice about DLA above, and also elsewhere on this blog – type DLA into the search box at top right, and the titles of the posts it throws up will show which are relevant (DLA also cops up in posts which aren’t about benefits. In addition, if you’re in the same position, post a comment and I’ll see if I can help. Comments are moderated before they appear, so if you want confidentiality say so, and I’ll delete your personal details.

Poverty and benefits…

This evening, on BBC News 24, poverty was officially defined as an income less than 60% of the average wage – this equals about £14,400 (assuming an average wage of £24,000 – it’s probably a bit more than that).

So, pretty much anyone depending on benefits is so far below the poverty level, it’s obscene. Based on my own income, my Incapacity Benefit and DLA amount to £7,373 a year, so I would need an increase of almost 100% to actually reach that level! OK, there’s my DLA mobility too (£2,418 a year), but I don’t see that in hard cash, it goes to Motability (and having a car isn’t a luxury, it’s essential – I’d be totally housebound without it as, for a variety of reasons, I can’t use public transport, and even taxis are iffy) – if I did it’d give me a total of £9,791 a year, and I’d need an increase of about 48% to bring me up to the poverty level.

All I’ve heard on the news tonight, though, is a lot of bitching and whining about poor old pensioners! Isn’t it time we heard about those of us struggling to live on state benefits, and not in a position to provide for our old age, as many pensioners can but often don’t? We don’t have a choice – we simply don’t have enough money to save or invest. We experience just as much poverty as the average pensioner, quite possibly more, and as we get older that’s not going to get any better – where the fuck is our publicity?

It’s time, people, that we made our presence felt, and made the general public – and the politicians – aware of our situation, and move the focus out from the pensioners to include the rest of us. Most pensioners of my acquaintance are a damned sight better off than I am…

By the way, this is not an ageist issue – I’ll be a pensioner myself in 16 months!

Incapacity Benefit – some figures…

Here’s an interesting statistic from the Disability Alliance’s Employment Support Allowance Briefing document “…there are some 550,000 current IB claimants who have been receiving IB for more than 5 years…”.

The total number of IB claimants is about 2.4 million (2007 figure), which means that almost 2 million claims date from the last five years, which rather gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that the Thatcher government shoved people onto Invalidity Benefit (IVB), in droves to keep them off the unemployment stats in the eighties.

It also poses the question, bearing in mind that the figure of 550,000 embraces claims from 5 years ago right to the inception of IVB, and maybe even further, as to why there has been such a massive boom in the last 5 years – almost 2 million claims having been generated in that period.

Perhaps, then, the DWP fraud investigations should focus on all the claims for bad backs, dicky knees and “stress” (not to be confused with mental illness, as the Daily Mail is fond of doing), and similar difficult to disprove claims from the last five years – with such a massive increase in claims even I find it hard to accept they can all be genuine – and leave the rest of us lifers alone. Anyone surviving on IVB/IB for decades deserves a medal, not harassment…

Employment and Support Allowance – screwed again?

First of all, there is a load of ESA information here.

Anyone who thinks that life will be better when Employment and Support Allowance is probably in for a nasty shock. The government really has no interest in making your life – or mine – better. Quite the opposite.

The government’s stated aim is to get people off IB and, by extension, DLA, and into the employment market (and if you’re moved to UB you’re “officially” not disabled, and you can bank on your DLA claim being put at serious risk).

In reality they are fully aware that this will mean people now claiming IB will be shifted to Unemployment Benefit and, subsequently, Income Support, where they will remain as they will be unemployable (there will be an appeal process, presumably). No-one who has been on IB/IVB for, say, 2O years+, as I have, even if they were suddenly to become perfectly fit and well, will ever be employable – no employer in their right mind would take the risk, but the government cares about this not one iota. They don’t care about you, or me, all they care about is the numbers – and sucking up to the Daily Mail and its brain-damaged readership. If you think that’s a bit harsh, I suggest spending some time on their website, reading the comments from readers, especially in relation to articles concerned with disability benefits.

If you – or me, or anyone – is unemployable in the real world, that will matter not at all if they decide you should be employable, even if only theoretically. It’s all about reducing the number of disability benefit claims, and that’s all they care about – why else would they be disseminating all the disinformation about us, like two-thirds of us are perfectly able to work, or claimants under 35 are frauds? What about disabled kids then? They know it’s bollocks, we know it’s bollocks, but it makes them look ‘ard and it impresses the rabid readership of the Mail, who lap this stuff up – and you underestimate their influence at your peril.

Most, if not all, political commentators believe that Brown & Co. are vigorously and actively cultivating the Mail and its readers, as it’s the only friend they have left in the press – everyone else is backing Cameron (but don’t get the idea that the Conservatives will be any better – they won’t be). Impressing the Mail was the sole reason for upgrading cannabis recently – everyone else knows it’s nonsense – the only effect will be to create more criminals, grist to the Mail’s mill.

By the way, I’ve read that some people have been awarded hundreds of pounds a week extra on ESA, but my understanding is that ESAis not due to be introduced until October this year. Anyone out there know anything different?

There is one thing, more than any other, that makes me doubt the government’s honesty over ESA – where are all these jobs supposed to come from? They simply aren’t there – it’s merely a ruse to shift us onto cheaper, and less politically-sensitive benefits.

My personal view is that it will be harder to claim ESA than IB, and that’s hard enough, as the “capacity for limited work” criteria are savagely stringent, and almost anybody is capable of doing something at some point – god help anyone with ME if they’re assessed on a good day, because I seriously doubt that will be taken into account. See here for an overview of the criteria.

Personally, I’m relieved that I’ll probably be drawing my pension before I’m caught up in ESA, because there are days when – in theory at least – I am capable of work. The fact that travelling to a job would render me incapable of doing it will, I suspect, count for nothing. Nor will being unable to know, today, just how ill I’m going to be tomorrow (I mean, right now, typing this is a massive challenge, and there’s a risk I might puke all over my laptop, thanks to migraine). Hell, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get out of bed until I try, so how can I plan ahead for stuff like going out to work? I can’t even be sure of being well enough to go and visit my doctor. Indeed, I haven’t been, and I really need to. The capacity for limited work assessment is very unlikely to take account of any of this.

My opinion, when ESA arrives, is that most of us are in danger of being seriously screwed, as the only people safe from its depredations are those who meet the following conditions:-

1. You are suffering from a severe life threatening disease in relation to which there is medical evidence that the disease is uncontrollable, or uncontrolled, by a recognised therapeutic procedure; and in the case of a disease that is uncontrolled, there is a reasonable cause for it not to be controlled by a recognised therapeutic procedure.

2. You suffer from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and consequently there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if you were found not to have limited capability for work.

Consider clause No.1 – My ME, yours too, probably, is totally uncontrolled by a “recognised therapeutic procedure”, because there isn’t one, but seriously, how much ice do you think this will cut with DWP-appointed doctors who are probably completely ignorant of the condition? Bloody good luck with that!

COPD and DLA…

One of the search terms that brought someone to this blog was “What rate DLA will I be entitled to with COPD?), so I thought I’d try to address the question. Then I realised it was well nigh impossible without sweeping generalisations – ah well… Note: I am not an expert!

First of all, benefit rates:-

Incapacity Benefit (IB) (for as long as it remains!), has a long-term rate, I believe, of £84.50 per week (others rates are lower, short-term, for example, is £63.75), payable weekly, with supplements payable based on previous National Insurance contributions. It’s an earnings-related benefit, despite what the Daily Mail likes to scream, you have to have worked, and then become to ill to continue, to qualify – it’s not free money handed out to all and sundry on demand. The website below clarifies the eligibility situation.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is rather more complex, but the rates are as follows; it’s paid every 4 weeks:-

Mobility Component

Lower rate £17.75 per week

Higher Rate £46.75 per week

You need to qualify for the higher rate to be eligible for a Motability vehicle.

Care component

Lowest rate £17.75 per week

Middle rate £44.85 per week

Highest rate £67.00 per week

How do these benefits apply to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)? It depend very much on how ill you are. I have COPD and some people get less than me; conversely, some get more, and it’s not unfair to say that it’s a bit of a lottery. A good place to start is this website, which deals with financial support for disabled people. That’s where I got the rates info.

Your IB claim is based on a points system – check out this website for details. You can also download the information as PDF document – see foot of that page.

If you have become unfit for work, then once your Statutory Sick pay runs out, you should transfer to Incapacity Benefit, after completing a form which, to put it bluntly, is a minefield – get help from a benefits expert if you are at all unsure. Officially, there may also be a medical examination – given the current demonisation of IB claimants, I think you can guarantee being summoned for one.

My advice would be to insist on being examined at home – the reasons you give depend on your personal situation – because how you live (how well you cope day-to-day), is central to your disability. Turning up at some hired-by-the-day office, to be confronted by a person who has no idea of who you are, and how well you cope, can be extremely counter-productive (and, of course, you’ve no idea how well qualified the private-enterprise doctor is to assess you – he may be so rubbish he’s unemployable in the real world, or some old, retired, doc working for pocket money; there are many reasons why these people work for DWP contractors, instead of themselves or the NHS, and being the best doctor in the world certainly isn’t one of them!). So, get them on your home turf, and make them see how badly you are affected on a day-to-day basis.

That applies to DLA as well – I had my DLA examination at home in 1986, I never even considered not doing so (I’m affected by several other factors as well, not least the damage done by being struck by lightning in 1983), and it was so rigorous I spent the next three days in bed. Had I driven to a venue for my examination, it’s extremely unlikely I would have been able to drive home again. That’s something you need to bear in mind, as is the fact that you have the right to decline to perform any action that you believe will be harmful to you.

If the IB form is a pain, you won’t like the DLA form – it’s huge. The main problem with DLA is that you can’t apply for a specific component, like mobility, you have to submit a blanket application and wait to see what you get, and how long you get it for. I get the impression that awards “indefinitely”, like mine, are scarce these days, and many people have to reapply every couple of years – this will make it almost impossible to obtain a Motability vehicle (on benefit, it’s pretty much the only way to afford a car, and for many disabilities, a car is essential; I’d be completely housebound without mine, as I can’t use public transport or taxis – long story). You need the higher mobility rate for at least three years to qualify for Motability.

When completing the DLA and IB forms, resist the temptation to flannel – be honest and concise. Always tell the truth – lies will drop you in the mire – but tell the truth that benefits you. For example, you describe how you are on your bad days, NOT on your good days, nor do you expand on that to say, for example “But some days I feel a lot better”. Sounds obvious, but I know people who have done just that, and talked themselves out of benefits. It’s also a bad idea to exaggerate how badly your ability to walk is affected, because they are very likely to take you for a walk – they did with me. At the moment, I’m completing a DLA claim form in the hope of getting the middle care rate, as I really need to employ someone to clean for me, and the “how far can you walk” question is multi-choice for time and distance – so I went out with a stopwatch and timed myself. The result was a lot worse than I thought. So had I guessed, I’d have done myself no favours.

There is a question about how far you can walk without pain. If, like me, you can’t stand without pain, then the answer that goes there is “Zero”. Don’t fanny about with “Oh, on a good day maybe a few yards,” if it’s zero, then say so unequivocally. And the same applies to all the questions.

Going back to IB for a moment, I’ve just had a re-assessment, and the IB50 form is a bad joke, so I suspect the application form may be too (some sources suggest it’s the same form). What I did, then, when I felt the multiple-choice questions just didn’t apply to me, was write “None of the above,” in each case, and submitted my answers to the entire form typed on 12 sheets of A4 paper, suitably keyed to the questions to which the answers referred*. I’ve done this several times, as it allows me to give a fuller picture than ticking boxes does, and as long as your name and national insurance number is at the top of every sheet, there won’t be a problem. I’d also advise signing and dating the final sheet. Doing this is also a god idea if, as in my case, writing is painful and, consequently, illegible – if they can’t read it, you could lose money. Why this form isn’t available as a download, like the DLA form, I’ll never know.

* Just one example of the stupid, inappropriate, questions was “Can you tie a bow in a piece of string?” Why would I want to? My answer said that this was irrelevant, but I can’t tie my shoe-laces so that they’ll stay tied, which in the real world is far more important than tying bows in bits of string!

Obviously, for anyone with COPD (or any other illness supported by substantial medication), how well you are will depend on how assiduous you are with your meds. You may think that, on the day of your medical assessment (if you have one), that it may be a good idea to omit or reduce some, or all, of your meds – I couldn’t possibly comment!

And that’s pretty much it, without getting deeply into each benefit, which has been done elsewhere online, though I can’t find any advice specifically regarding claiming DLA with COPD, so my advice would be to get yourself a claim pack and give it your best shot. You’re almost certain to get something.