Could you be entitled to benefits and discounts?

by Arthur's Place

A simple guide to which benefits and discounts you might be entitled to and how to get them

Last updated: November 2023

The information in this article was correct at the last update but is subject to change.

Are you a young person with arthritis? Are you worried about the rising cost of living and the pressure on your finances? Do you wonder if you might be entitled to financial support, such as benefits, concessions or grants? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Just getting a diagnosis of arthritis doesn’t automatically mean that you are entitled to financial support. That’s because arthritis impacts individuals differently.

However, if your arthritis is making it difficult for you to work or study as you’d like and leaving you financially vulnerable as a consequence, or if it’s costing you more to live, for example to heat your home or pay for prescriptions, you might be eligible for financial support.

Before we answer some frequently asked questions about arthritis and financial support, please know that there is absolutely no shame in getting benefits, grants or other concessions.

Remember, it’s not your fault that fuel costs are sky-high, food prices are rising and rents and mortgage interest rates are crazy. What’s more, you certainly didn’t choose to have a condition that can affect your freedom to earn what you need, when you need it.

So, give yourself a big hug and remember that you’re deserving of any help that comes your way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Possibly, yes.

There are several benefits but whether you are eligible will depend on personal factors such as how and to what degree you are impacted by your arthritis, where you live and your current financial circumstances.

For example, when it comes to income-related benefits some young people with arthritis can work full-time with only occasional time off for appointments and sick days. For others, work isn’t possible at all.

It also depends which region of the UK you live in, for example Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland, as the rules and benefits can be different.

These are examples of the benefits you can apply for:

Universal Credit

Anyone with no income or a low income, regardless of their health, may be entitled to Universal Credit. This is a monthly payment to help with living costs.

If you have no income or a low income and your arthritis limits how much work you can do you may be entitled to an extra amount of Universal Credit. You may also get a reduction in your Council Tax costs and help with childcare costs.

Find out more about Universal Credit

New Style Employment and Support Allowance

You can apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or physical or mental health condition that affects how much you can work.

ESA gives you:

  • Money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work
  • Support to get back into work if you’re able to.

You can apply if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.

Find out more about ESA

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

You may be eligible for PIP if you have both:

  • A long-term physical or mental health condition or disability
  • Difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition.

PIP is in two parts: a daily living part if you need help with everyday tasks such as washing and bathing, dressing and preparing food, and a mobility part if you need help with moving around.

You can get PIP if you’re working, have savings or are getting other benefits. Once you have PIP you may be eligible for additional money as part of other benefits.

The equivalent of PIP in Scotland is the Adult Disability Payment (ADP).

If you need help understanding or applying for PIP you can:

Find out more about PIP / ADP

Eight Great Things You Could Access with PIP

Attendance Allowance

If your arthritis symptoms mean that you need someone to help you, you may be entitled to Attendance Allowance.

This payment is paid at two levels, depending on need, and you do not have to have someone caring for you to claim it.

Find out more about Attendance Allowance

The simplest way to find out if you might be entitled to benefits, based on your specific circumstances, is to use a benefits calculator from a trusted source.

These free online tools will guide you through a set of questions about your personal circumstances, including which region of the UK you live in, before providing personalised guidance about which benefits you could be entitled to.

Apart from personalisation, a big advantage of using a benefits calculator is that the information is kept up to date. This includes information about which benefits are available, the eligibility criteria and the payment amounts involved.

Here are three independent calculators recommended by GOV.UK that you can use anonymously. The answers you give are confidential and will not affect any future application for financial support.

IMPORTANT These calculators are not reliable if you are a student, not a British or Irish citizen or living outside the UK.

Get help in person

If a benefits calculator is not suitable for you, or you would prefer to speak to someone about your circumstances, you could use this tool to find a local advisor. This tool is recommended by GOV.UK.

While you personally will know how disabling you find your arthritis, in terms of being considered ‘disabled’ in the workplace or by your local authority, or a grant-making body for example, your best source of information is the Equality Act 2010.

Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010 says you’re disabled if:

  • You have a physical or mental impairment
  • Your impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to do normal day-to-day activities.

Long-term means more than one year, which does include flare-ups that last less than one year but are substantial when they happen and are likely to happen again. Substantial means ‘more than minor or trivial’.

Citizen’s Advice provides some great information about how to know if you are disabled.

The legal test of disability is based on what the impact of your condition would be without any medication, walking aids or treatment. So, imagine how you would feel without your Methotrexate, for example, or your walking stick if you have one.

Self-identifying and / or registering as disabled

No-one can stop you describing yourself as disabled, if that’s how you feel, though you may wish to check that you meet the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010 if you want extra reassurance before you self-identify.

If required, a doctor or other medical professional can provide supporting evidence for applications, such as details of your diagnosis, what would happen without treatment and the impact on your life. You can also keep a diary of your symptoms and the impact to use as evidence.

There are, however, some advantages to actually registering as disabled with your local authority, especially if you want to apply for benefits, grants and concessions or ask for additional support or protections from your employer.

It is voluntary to register as disabled and you don’t have to be registered to apply for disability benefits.

Access Card

As well as, or instead of, registering as disabled with your local authority, you could take part in a recognised scheme such as the Access Card.

Trusted schemes such as the Access Card will verify your eligibility as a disabled person and make access to certain concessions easier. A small fee applies though some local authorities will provide it free for residents who are also registered disabled.

Beware of scams and take great care to establish that you are engaging with a reputable and trusted scheme before you share any personal details.

You can apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

ESA gives you:
• Money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work
• Support to get back into work if you’re able to.

You can apply if you’re employed or self-employed and if you’re already receiving other benefits, such as Universal Credit.

Find out more about ESA

You can apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that means you can’t work at all.

ESA gives you:

  • Money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work
  • Support to get back into work if you’re able to in the future.

You can apply if you’re unemployed and if you’re already receiving other benefits, such as Universal Credit.

Find out more about ESA

Yes, possibly.

You can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if you have a long-term illness such as arthritis, a mental health problem or a disability and are on a full-time or part-time course lasting at least one year.

DSA is support to cover the study-related costs you have because of your health. It can be paid in addition to any student finance you get and you don’t need to pay it back.

The type of support and how much you get depends on your individual needs, which will be assessed. It can be quite a sizeable amount depending on your needs (up to £26,291 a year for the 2023 to 2024 academic year for undergraduates and postgraduates, for example) but remember, it is support for study-related costs only and not general living costs.

In some instances, you may be entitled to Universal Credit too, such as if you are a full-time student, registered disabled and were claiming PIP before you started your course.

Try the Student Services department at your place of study for more information about help with the cost of living.

Find out more about DSA

Find out about the NHS-funded Disabled Students Allowance if you are studying on healthcare, medical, dental or social work courses.

Find out more about Universal Credit and Students

Top Ten Student Money Tips from UCAS

You should start by making sure you’re claiming Child Benefit for each child, which all families are entitled to unless one parent is earning over £50,000 per year. At this level of earning a graduated tax on the benefit will be applied. Find out more about Child Benefit

If you live in Scotland, you may be entitled to the Scottish Child Payment for parents or carers on low incomes with a child under 16. Find out more about the Scottish Child Payment

Help with childcare costs

Beyond Child Benefit, you may be eligible for help with childcare costs. The simplest way to find out is to use this childcare calculator from GOV.UK.

Working families who claim Universal Credit can apply to claim back up to 85% of their monthly childcare costs. Find out more

Healthy Start cards

Healthy Start cards are to help you buy fruit, vegetables, milk and vitamins if your income from employment after tax is less than £408 a month and either:
• you have a child under the age of 4
• you’re at least 10 weeks’ pregnant.
Apply for a Healthy Start card on the NHS website

The equivalent in Scotland is a Best Start Foods payment. Find out more

Free school meals

Your children can get free school meals if your income after tax is less than £7,400 a year. This figure does not include any Universal Credit or other benefits. Find out more

Maternity grants

If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you could get a £500 Sure Start Maternity Grant if you’re pregnant with your first child. You can claim up to 11 weeks before you are due to give birth or up to six months after your baby is born. Find out more

If you live in Scotland you can apply for a Best Start Grant. Find out more

Home adaptations

If you feel you may need financial help to adapt your home so that you can care for your children safely, you could start by applying for a free home assessment. Find out more

Fuel costs have rocketed during the cost-of-living crisis, and people living with chronic health conditions such as arthritis, who need to keep their homes warm, are suffering.

The availability of financial support towards fuel costs changes often and depends on factors such as changes in the price of oil, suppliers’ pricing plans and government policy. It’s no surprise if you’re finding it hard to keep track of what help is out there.

At the time of writing, there is still help available in the form of one-off payments, grants, benefits, fuel vouchers and discount schemes, with varying eligibility. There is also help from some energy suppliers directly.

To get up-to-date advice about help with fuel costs call the free Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or visit the Get Help Paying Your Bills page on the Citizens Advice website.

Possibly, yes, depending on where you live, what you need and, in some instances, your current financial position.

The first step is to get a free home assessment, to see which adaptations or gadgets could help you. You can apply for one of these via your local authority or online. Apply for a free home assessment

Examples of small adaptations with big impact include:

  • Easy-to-turn taps
  • A raised toilet seat
  • A kettle with a holder to make it easier to pour
  • Gadgets to help pull zips or put socks on
  • Chairs to help support children in the bath.

According to GOV.UK, your local authority should pay for small adaptations that cost less than £1000, if they agree that they are needed, but we’ve found that local authorities differ in what they will pay for. Plus, you must always seek help before spending money, and not afterwards.

For more expensive adaptations, you could apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant.

If you live in Scotland, you can find out more from Care Information Scotland about equipment and making changes to your home, as well as any help you might be able to get.

It’s also worth Googling for charities that provide grants or actual equipment and adaptations.

If you think you may qualify as disabled you can apply for the following:

Buses and trains

By car

By Taxi

You may be able to get help with prescription, dental and other NHS costs though some criteria apply, such as where you live, how old you are and your household income.

The simplest way to find out if you can get help with costs is to use this free eligibility tool provided by GOV.UK. It will guide you through a set of questions about your personal circumstances to make sure the answer is tailored to you.

While we hope a financial emergency never happens to anyone in our Arthur’s Place community, sadly it’s a possibility that any young person, regardless of their health, might find themselves in dire straits.

If you find yourself with no money and are unable to pay for essentials such as food, rent and bills, you could:

  • Get in touch with your local authority and ask for urgent help. Find your local authority
  • If you’re a student, in addition to the suggestions here you could approach Student Services at your place of study and ask about hardship funds.
  • Find your nearest Food Bank. Find out more about Food Banks
  • Contact Citizen’s Advice. Find out more about Citizen’s Advice
  • Call the Versus Arthritis Helpline on 0800 520 05520. Advisors can provide information on benefits. Find out more about Versus Arthritis Helpline
  • Call the Help Through Hardship Helpline, provided by the Trussell Trust in partnership with Citizen’s Advice. Find contact details for your region
  • Tell your GP. They should be able to point you to the right sources of support.
  • If you live in Scotland, contact your local authority about a Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant. Find out more about a Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant
  • Try the Bank of Mum and Dad. If you can, don’t let embarrassment hold you back from going to your parents for emergency help, if you are lucky enough to still have parents, no matter what age you are. While it might not be possible for your parents to give you money, telling family (or friends) about your situation might result in some fresh ideas about ways to cope.

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