Having a combined sight and hearing loss can mean that you are entitled to certain benefits and other services. These vary by the severity of your combined sight and hearing loss, age and any other impairments or difficulties that you may experience.
With the exception of a specialist deafblind assessment, there are no other automatic entitlements. Legislation like the Accessible Information Standard, and the Equality Act (2010) will apply but how they are met will vary based on your own needs.
Working age benefits
There are a range of benefits to which people with combined sight and hearing loss of working age (16-65) may be eligible, these include:
Employment Support Allowance
Is an income replacement benefit, to which you may be entitled if due to your sight and hearing loss you have limited capability for work. ESA is a complex benefit, in which the amounts received vary based on your age, stage in the application process, previous work history and the severity of your needs.
Is a single benefit that replaces six other benefits including ESA, Income Support and Housing Benefit. UC is currently being slowed rolled out across the UK. At the moment only people living in a full digital service area can claim UC instead of claiming each benefit individually, as claims are managed only online. It is expected by 2022 full roll out of UC will be completed.
Personal Independence Payments
Is a non-means tested benefit to provide help to meet some of the extra costs caused by long term ill-health or disability. PIP payments are split into two parts a daily living amount and a mobility amount – it is possible to qualify for only one part. The amount received will depend of if you meet the assessment criteria for the standard or enhanced rates. PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance.
Non-working age benefits
There are a range of benefits to which people with combined sight and hearing loss of non-working age (65+) may be eligible, these include:
Anyone who has reached the appropriate pensionable age and has paid the appropriate contributions is eligible to receive a state pension. This replaces any previous working age income replacement benefits.
If you have a low income and claim your state pension you may be eligible for pension credit which can increase your household weekly income to an ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’. Disability specific benefits of DLA, PIP and AA are not counted as income.
Is a non-means tested benefit to help pay for care if you have a disability. There is only a daily living element to this benefit, and two payment rates. The higher rate is paid if you need help to look after yourself during the day and night, and the lower rate if help is needed only during the day or night. (If you are claiming PIP before your 65th birthday, you will able to stay on PIP).
Other benefits and entitlements
There are a range of other benefits and entitlements to which people with combined sight and hearing loss of all ages may be eligible, these include:
Is a means tested benefit to help you pay your rent if you have a low income, whether employed or unemployed. Depending on your income and personal circumstances the amount you receive could be for all or part of your rent. Any adult can apply for HB but those under 35 years old may face accommodation restrictions.
Council tax reduction
Depending on your age, whether you live alone or with another person, the severity of your sight and hearing loss, your income and whether you claim other benefits you could be entitled to a reduction in your council tax payments. Applications are made to your own local council. (A different scheme exists for Northern Ireland).
Reduced TV licence fee
If you have been certified as being severely sight impaired you can apply for a 50% reduction in your TV licence fee.
If you have been registered as severely sight impaired, you can apply for an automatic entitlement disabled blue badge. The blue badge scheme offers parking spaces that are larger and nearer to shops and other facilities, and can include parking charge concessions. Other levels of sight and hearing loss may also be eligible for a blue badge on application, you can apply via your local council.
Disabled travel passes
As part of national schemes your local council can issue disabled bus passes to give you free off peak bus travel. Local restrictions may also allow for the use of local tram / metro / rail services off peak or as in the London Freedom Pass scheme may allow unlimited travel on Tube, Overground and DLR. You can apply via your local council, who will also have information on any local restrictions.
Disabled persons railcard
If you have been certified as sight impaired or severely sight impaired, or receive one of Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance you can apply to purchase a disabled persons railcard. This railcard entitles you and a carer / friend / family member travelling with you to 1/3 of rail fares – the discount is available peak and off-peak. You can obtain an application online or at your local rail station.
Free directory enquires
If you have been registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired you can contact BT to register for free directory enquiries. This service is free no matter who is your phone provider.
It is possible to text 999 in an emergency, and gain emergency access to the police, ambulance, fire or coastguard services. The service is free and requires registration in advance before it can be used. http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/
For further information on how to apply for any of the benefits / entitlements identified above, please contact us and we will signpost you to the right organisation to support you.
As the UK benefit system is constantly changing, decisions made within the courts and updating of benefit entitlement criteria can lead to variation in entitlements.