Disability benefit changes: Case studies

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The change to a new system of paying disability benefits to people aged 16 to 64 is under way.

The new Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) are designed to meet the extra costs specific to disability, like adapted cars, wheelchairs, personal assistance and daily living aids.

PIPs will be allocated in a different way from the previous Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and there are new rules around eligibility.

Three current DLA recipients describe how the changes will affect them.

Joe (Not his real name)

There are lots of people apparently worse off under the new scheme. But ironically I'm better off.

I have been claiming DLA since 2006, when I was injured (while on duty with the Army) in Iraq. The rules were, you had 18 months to get better or get out. I was booted out of the Army in 2006 and instructed to fill out the forms for DLA. I was entitled to DLA alongside my GIP (the successor to the war pension).

I had been on DLA at the higher rate for mobility and the middle rate for care, but with the change to PIP I am entitled to a rate equivalent to the higher rate for mobility and the higher rate for care. This is about an extra £35 to £40 a week. So far as I am concerned this is great.

Lisa Egan

Lisa is a wheelchair user. She has the incurable condition osteogenesis imperfecta, brittle bones. Lisa has been active in campaigning online against changes to disability benefits and has blogged her concerns about the move from DLA to PIP.

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I've spent a lot of time over the last few years wondering if I ought to be alive because the media constantly tells me I'm a drain on the state”

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I assessed myself for PIPs last year, using the information available at the time. The results said that I would not receive anything under the new rules.

I did it again after they introduced "safely, reliably and in a timely fashion" (the criteria by which assessors judge someone's mobility) and changed the walking distance for the mobility component from 50 metres to 20. This time the results were inconclusive but there's now a faint glimmer of hope.

Whether I get PIPs depends on how they apply those rules to my situation.

Sometimes the bones in my feet snap when I walk, or my knees dislocate. Fractures might happen twice a year, dislocations more often than that. So it's about whether they would consider this frequently enough to say that I can walk "safely and reliably".

The whole thing is scary, because there's a question mark hanging over my head. When they start to assess indefinite awards in two years' time, will I have a car so that I can leave the house to do my own shopping? Will I be able to eat a dinner? Yes, I can feed myself, but my DLA covers the extra costs of buying ready meals and takeaways for days like today, when my knee is twice the size it should be.

I have a lot of pain and my condition fluctuates. Worrying about the changes has affected my mental health. I've spent a lot of time over the last few years wondering if I ought to be alive, because the media constantly tells me that (by living on disability benefits), I'm a drain on the state, a financial burden.

Natalia Jagger

I receive DLA and have a lifetime award. A serious assault left me with injuries which mean I now require crutches, two walking sticks or my walker to walk and I move extremely slowly and with great difficulty. Thanks to the higher rate of the mobility component I currently have a Motability car which my carer drives for me when I need to go out. I live on Mull, a small island in Scotland.

I will not be eligible for the higher rate mobility component under PIP. This is because I can walk more than 20 metres but less than the current 50 metres required to be eligible.

When my DLA is changed over to PIP I will lose my car, my lifeline. I will no longer be able to get to the shops, bus stops are too far away for me to walk to, I won't be able to attend any of my hospital appointments. A car is required to get me there from my home, a journey of over 20 miles, which includes a 45-minute ferry trip.

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