Patients with chronic lung disease and their carers may be eligible for financial support. There are a large number of potential benefits that can be claimed, and the process is often time-consuming and complicated. The best sources of information are:
• Benefits Enquiry Line 0800 882200 (F 0800 220674 in Northern Ireland)
• http://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled/overview (useful guide)
• http://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits (various online tools)
• The Citizens Advice Bureau http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
• The ward social worker is usually a good source of information.
Statutory sick pay (SSP)
A doctor’s certificate (‘fit note’ = Med 3) is usually required for >1 week’s SSP. Paid up to 26 weeks. New rules now make the doctor’s certificate the responsibility of the hospital consultant under whom the patient was admitted, and it should be completed on discharge to cover the advised period off work. This also applies to patients needing time off work but not admitted to hospital. Nursing staff usually complete the forms for the period during which the patient was in hospital.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
(replaces Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance). Has two phases: (1) assessment phase, in which patients must get Med 3s for first 13 weeks of claim and complete a medical questionnaire (ESA50), (2) work capability assessment phase, during which patients attend a face-to-face assessment to determine ongoing need and set a date for further assessment. For patients who are terminally ill (<6 months’ life expectancy), doctors complete a DS1500 form, and such patients normally avoid requirement for face-to-face assessment.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
for those <65 (replacing Disability Living Allowance) or Attendance Allowance (AA) for those >65. These are benefits for the extra costs of disability and are designed for help with personal care or mobility. For PIP, patients have to satisfy a 3-month qualifying period and have a prospective estimate of disability lasting at least 9 months. ‘Special rules’ allow terminally ill people (<6 months’ life expectancy) to claim PIP/AA quickly, using a DS1500 form completed by doctors.
These are payments from Social Services to allow patients to buy care services for themselves.
Those who care for someone receiving allowances, including PIP/AA, for at least 35h/week are eligible.
Working Tax Credit (with extra credit for disability)
This is not a benefit as such, but a tax credit from the HMRC (paid in addition to benefits).
Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
Available for higher education students in England with disability or long-term health conditions.
Access to Work Grant
Financial support to help disabled people to undertake their job, giving money for, e.g. specialist equipment, travel when unable to use public transport.
Disabled Facilities Grant
Available from local councils to allow essential household modifications (e.g. widen doors, stairlifts).
Other transport assistance,
e.g. Blue Badge, exemption from paying vehicle tax, disabled person’s bus pass/railcard.
Disablement benefit (see Chapter 36 on pneumoconioses, pp. [link]–[link], and Chapter 17 on asbestosis, pp. [link]–[link]). Patients can additionally claim Constant Attendance Allowance if require daily care and attention because of a disability.
Reduced earning allowance
For those suffering from disability caused by a work-related accident or disease that happened before 1 October 1990.