Extra "disability benefits" and cancer

Thursday 19 July 2018

Part 1 of a series looking at AA, DLA and PIP. These are favourite benefits for making a real difference when facing the challenges of extra costs associated with living with a cancer diagnosis...


Welcome to the updated first in a four-part series on some of our favourite groups of benefits - the disability benefits - which can each can help with the extra costs of daily living and getting around that often come when living with a cancer diagnosis. Often people tell us that an award can financially "make the difference between living and merely existing"

This first part is largely an update of an excellent blog by my predecessor, Jude, revised to take account of a new benefit kid on the block back in November 2014 and now slightly updated afresh. 

In some all-new additional blogs, I look at :

  • in Part 2  - the rather different criteria for the more recent controversial and troublesome half relation that is Personal Independence Payment PIP)
  • in Part 3 -  how the new PIP points system might apply to common difficulties related to cancer and how the disability benefits deal with the fact that those difficulties can change
  • in Part 4 -  how all three benefits can struggle to deal with the sheer variability of cancer related difficulties 
  • in Part 5  - how these benefits can still help if you experience "late effects" as you move into recovery after all the treatments  hurly burley’s done. 

So, for now it’s over mostly to Jude - with a little light updating from me



  1. Introducing 'disability benefits"


1. 1 Why are  disability benefits such wonderful things?

If we were asked to nominate a 'favourite' benefit, it would definitely have been  - Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - for in spite of its rather off-putting name, it doubtlessly makes the biggest difference to people's lives. This is because:

  • Neither DLA - nor its sister benefit Attendance Allowance (AA) or its new half-sibling Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - are means tested in any way, shape or form and are paid direct to people with longer term health problems, often enabling choice and enhancing independence. If awarded either benefit, then it's entirely up to you what you spend it on.
  • They're paid on top of any other income you have coming into the household and will never reduce your entitlement to any other benefit.  In fact, they can often mean that you become entitled to means tested help - or get more means tested help as a result of the award.
  • This is because entitlement to AA, DLA or PIP increases the amount the Government says you need to live on within Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support and Tax Credits. Though it will only sometimes do so under the future Universal Credit – but that's another blog for another day.
  • You don't have to be too unwell to work either – all three of these "disability benefits" can be awarded and paid whilst still in work - or having returned to work after a period 'on the sick'.
  • And you don't have to have huge difficulties - or even actually get any help at all to qualify - e.g. many women I meet who have gone through breast surgery end up getting some DLA because they are left with problems cooking a main meal, while the DWP gave a case study for someone in similar circumstances getting more under PIP. 
  • Between them, they could be claimed by people of any age - including on behalf of children - although the test for DLA in childhood is slightly different to that for adults, and I'll write more of that another time.
  • And finally, entitlement to AA, PIP Daily Living or the middle and higher rates of DLA Care,  can allow someone else to claim their own benefits as a carer

All three of these “disability” benefits take into account any health problems you have - not 'just' your cancer - including mental health difficulties and sensory impairments, and also any side effects you get as the result of treatment/ tablets. Often a short award is made to take you into recovery and these benefits can stay with you if you are easing back into work.  You may be left with some longer term "late effects" from cancer, it's surgeries and treatments, and you may need to renew your claim, but perhaps with a very different pattern of difficulties from that first form. 


1.2 What's the difference between AA, DLA and PIP?


Who claims which disability benefit?

Essentially comes to your age when you first claim a disability benefit: 

  • Attendance Allowance (AA) remains unchanged as the one for  people who have come of pension age - which is reaching 66 in late 2020 - at the time that they make a new claim for a disability benefit . However,  if you have been awarded DLA or PIP from  before you reached pension age, you carry on with that  benefit into pension age, subject to any review or renewal of your claim.
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)  was originally for  all people making a new claim when aged between birth and pension age.  However,  new claims for DLA are now only open to people up to the age of 16. On rthe run up to 16, you would need to claim PIP to replace your DLA
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced DLA for working age adults i.e. for  new claims from those aged 16 to pension age. These claims have been for PIP since June 2013 in Great Britain and from June 2016 in Northern Ireland. 

For making a new claims, then,  it's DLA if under 16, PIP if aged 16 to pension age and AA if aged over pension age. Blurring the boundaries are:

  • Switching over from "working age" DLA to PIP: Those already getting DLA who had not reached the age of 65  by 8th April 2013, are going through a process of having to apply for PIP instead of their DLA  and face the different  PIP assessment process. Originally the last "invitation" to switch to PIP was due to go out by October 2018, but this has been extended twice and was due to be completed by in October 2020. However the process went on hold during the March to July coronavirus lockdown and is only slowly resuming. No new date but this may continue into 2021.
  • Taking DLA and PIP with you into pension age: You do not switch your DLA or PIP to AA when you reach pension age, but stay with them. This is to to stop you losing help with Mobility (see below) as AA does not offer this. People who were on DLA and had reached the age of 65 by 8th April 2013 stayed with their previous DLA entitlement  and do not have to be re-assessed under PIP rules. However those who reached pension age after that date still have to be re-assessed, so some people may be over 70 and needing to go through a switch from DLA to PIP. So, amongst people over pension age, all new claims are for AA but many people, around a million - will continue with their earlier claims for DLA or PIP. 


Differences  in the rates of benefit:

  • DLA has two components – DLA Care (paid at one of three rates)  and DLA Mobility (paid at one of two rates) , whereas Attendance Allowance (paid at one of two rates) only covers the care side of your difficulties.
  • The  criteria for an award of AA  and the top two rates of DLA Care are identical, so I will take a look at those together below. So when it comes to how much you get, AA lower rate = DLA Care, middle rate, while  AA higher rate = DLA Carer, highest rate. The amounts you get and the criteria for getting them are the same.
  • DLA also has its own separate criteria for a DLA Care, lowest rate for those with lesser care needs. DLA also has a separate DLA Mobility component (paid at one of two rates) that can help with extra difficulties when getting around out of doors
  • PIP also has two components, but this time they are called Daily Living and Mobility.  Each component can be paid at one of two rates The basic purpose of PIP isn't so very different from DLA and at first sight looking at the different rates, the amounts PIP can pay looks just like those of DLA, but  with the lowest rate of Care chopped off.
  • However, PIP difficulties are assessed in a very different way from either AA and DLA using a points-based system, which I will look at next time.  This  means that in the current switchover process from DLA to PIP,   only around 16% end up with the same rates of PIP as they had on DLA. It is much more common for your amount to change: quite a few get more under PIP than under DLA but a higher number get less or no PIP at all after re-assessment. Do get advice as the appeal success rate is high. 


1.3 All three are "long term" benefits

You usually have to have had difficulties for six months to get AA too - as opposed to three months for DLA and PIP. However,  both DLA and PIP also have a “forward test” – in that that you must also be likely to have enough difficulties for at least the following 6 months (for DLA) or 9 months (for PIP). 

But crucially for those affected by cancer these don't have to be the same difficulties right through this time. So, it's not just about effects you may be experiencing during treatment - which may be a very good time to make a claim - but also the potential longer term side effects and late effects. These will be important for meeting that forward test to allow your current claim, and may be relevant should you need to renew that claim in recovery. 

For all three benefits, some more unwell people can get them at once - and without the usual assessment of day to day difficulties - through the separate "special rules" .



  1. The "Special Rules"

These cover people whose cancers have reached a more advanced stage. To receive AA, DLA or PIP under these rules, your GP, Consultant or a nurse has to send the DWP information about your diagnosis and treatment - but not your individual prognosis - on a form DS1500. 

It's also possible for carers or relatives to make Special Rules claims for these benefits without the person who is unwell being involved, either because they're too poorly to apply themselves or are unaware of – or don’t want to know - about their prognosis. 

Special Rules applications are fast-tracked, and almost invariably lead to an automatic three year awards of : 

  • the higher rate of Attendance Allowance, or
  • the highest rate of DLA Care Component, or 
  • the enhanced rate of PIP Daily Living Component, 

even if you would not meet the standard tests for these, which I look at below.

Any problems with mobility in theory need still need to be assessed separately within DLA and PIP. However,  in practise,  that assessment is based on any indication of mobility problems on the claim form. Awards of the top rates of the Mobility components in DLA and PIP are almost semi-automatic. 

If you've been awarded benefit under these rules, then your award is looked at again after three years and could then be renewed with a fresh DS1500.

Special rules also enable you to bypass the assessments processes for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the basic benefit for being off sick from work, which you can claim alongside DLA or PIP.  This is the same assessment process - that is also bypassed - if you claim Universal Credit (UC)  on grounds of sickness, as a means tested top up. 

For more details on the special rules, see the separate blogs in the links below.



  1. Criteria for AA and DLA Care under the normal rules 

Most claims though will need to be made under the ordinary rules , which involve a self assessment of how your combination of all of medical conditions, treatments and side-effects, limit you on a day to day basis. So, what sorts of difficulty counts towards these benefits? I'll start with the ones that crop up in both AA and DLA...


3.1 AA and DLA Care "attention"

Attention involves help that you could reasonably do with - regardless of whether you actually receive any - with a range of personal care task. It could be that someone lending a hand might make all the difference or it could be encouraging you to give it a go or talk you through concentration difficulties. You may sort of manage on your own as there may be no choice, but would help make a difference, if it was available? So what sort of help counts?

Well, firstly there's struggling with things like getting out of bed, having a wash/ bath/ shower, getting dressed and moving around indoors. You don't have to fail to do any of these things without help; you may simply have difficulty with some of them - for example because of weakness, tiredness, breathlessness, pain or unsteadiness. In fact, many people I meet prefer to do as much as they can for themselves, but end up taking much longer than they would have done before.

Any emotional support you need counts too - e.g. you may be physically able to get out of bed, but if you're depressed, or anxious, then you may well need encouragement to do so day-in-day-out.

AA and the Care part of DLA also look at 'toileting' - which could include difficulties getting to and using the toilet, dealing with any incontinence you've been left with as the result of treatment, any difficulties because of the need to catheterise or use enemas, keeping an unhealed site of surgery clean or coping with a stoma.

Coping with your medical treatment comes into it too - perhaps because you have problems remembering when to take what, or need help with changing dressings, or flushing lines, or can't get to appointments without company = or emotional support. Difficulties dealing with side effects counts too - in fact for people going through chemotherapy it's often the side effects which actually qualify them for benefit as opposed to the effects of their actual cancer.

This will include the gradually fading away of side effects a little while after treatment stops and any "late effects" that remain or emerge, which, while less immediately troubling, may still be important for the DLA and PIP criteria that you are likely to have difficulties over at least the next 6 or 9 months. You don’t need difficulties at a constant level to qualify, but you do need some level of additional difficulty. More on this in later parts...

Encouragement needed with eating is another common area for DLA and Attendance Allowance - because someone's appetite is poor or because they feel nauseous, or because everything tastes horrible, or because of mouth ulceration... and I also often mention the encouragement and reminding someone needs to drink (water!) copiously whilst having chemotherapy... Others may have physical difficulty swallowing and need to be helped and monitored in case of choking. Or you may be fitted with a PEG or RIG feeding tube.

Communication difficulties count too - be they of the spoken or of the written/ typed word variety. As well as the more obvious problems of having physical difficulties speaking - e.g. because of oral or throat cancers, many of the people I work with have described, at different times, days when they can't face making - or taking - phone calls, when they can't concentrate or don't have the energy to deal with paperwork. Forgetting things is also a big issue for some people.

And although they may well have gone out of the window when you were first diagnosed, any difficulties you have with social activities or hobbies count too - e.g. needing a lift or company to be able to get to your nearest Maggie's Centre- or to meet up with friends, or needing someone to help you set up equipment associated with a hobby at home because you're too tired or weak to do it yourself...

Roughly speaking, if you have some of the difficulties listed above on and off through most days - or more than once or for longer than 20 minutes most nights - you should qualify for the Middle Rate of DLA Care or the Lower Rate of Attendance Allowance (it sounds a bit mean, I know, but they're actually both worth the same amount and have identical qualifying rules...) If you have this spread of difficulties both day AND night, then you should get DLA Higher Care or the Higher Rate of Attendance Allowance. 


3.2 DLA Lowest Care 

Within DLA only, there's also a Lowest Rate of Care, which relates to having some of the difficulties covered above for around an hour most days, but not spread out over the day - e.g. you might have some difficulties morning and evenings, but be ok in between.

An alternative route to DLA Lowest Care was because of being unable to cook a main meal - e.g. because of weakness or nausea or because of problems lifting or bending and coping with hot pots/ pans and trays safely. Problems with motivating yourself to cook, or co-ordinating things to come ready at the same time could count, as could an inability to tell if food is fresh because you've lost your sense of taste or smell...  

The cooking test  only applied to claims over 16,  so is no longer relevant to new DLA claims, but there is a similar activity within the PIP points system.

People still receiving DLA Lowest Care awards - often common because of restrictions in arm movement after say breast cancer, may well be concerned that in switching over to PIP they may no longer qualify as there is no lowest rate of PIP Daily Living. However, many find that it is easier to score points elsewhere under PIP, because there is no issue of whether difficulties are just concentrated in one part of the day.


3.3 AA and DLA Care "supervision"

You can also get DLA or Attendance Allowance if you need someone keeping an eye on you to avoid some sort of risk - e.g. because you are unsteady or dizzy and prone to falls, or have bouts of fainting, or seizures, or are potentially 'unsafe' in any way if left alone. Again, you don't have to have someone watching over you to qualify - it's the level of your difficulties, not the level of the help you get that counts.

The supervision rules also cover things like people being at risk of hurting themselves - e.g. if someone is having suicidal ideas due to depression.

To meet the daytime test under these 'supervision' criteria though you must potentially have the need almost all the time - e.g. you may only have occasional seizures,  but because one could happen at any time, you need someone to keep an eye on you most of  the time... By night the need for supervision has to last for at least 20 minutes, or happen three times or more.

Again, supervision needs just during the day or night lead to the Lower rate of AA or DLA Middle Care, whilst having problems both day and night lead to the Higher rates.

There is a big gap in PIP as regards supervision needs. They do feature, but only in relation to dangers that might occur when performing certain PIP activities, rather than as a general supervision need.



  1. Mobility difficulties for DLA only...

As well as there being the 'Care Component' of DLA - similar to Attendance Allowance - there's also a 'Mobility Component' - awarded at one of two different rates to those who qualify. This also applies to PIP, but the Mobility Component works rather differently, so we'll look at that and the rest of PIP a bit more next time. Within DLA, the two rates of Mobility are like distinct mini-benefits of their own, each  looking at very different aspects of problems you may have getting around.

4.1 DLA Higher Mobility  

The Higher Mobility Component covers physical difficulties walking - typically for people with cancer because of weakness, pain, breathlessness, or extreme fatigue associated with treatment. If you cannot walk at all, or if walking could be dangerous for your health then you should qualify.

More complex questions arise when qualifying for Higher Mobility through being 'virtually unable to walk'. There isn't a figure put on the distance that qualifies you - in theory the DWP should weigh up the distance you can cover before you have to stop to rest, the time you can do it in and the way in which you are able to walk - but in reality, 50 metres seems a typical measure of thumb with most decision makers. Any walking you achieve whilst in pain or discomfort should be ignored - it's only the walking you can do before you feel 'severe discomfort' that should be measured.

There are other routes to Higher Mobility for people who have sensory impairments or for some with brain injuries/ learning difficulties - if you think you might qualify on these grounds get advice.

People awarded Higher Mobility can get road tax exemption - or a carer/ relative can get it for their car as long as it's used substantially for the needs of the person getting the DLA. Lengthier awards can also be 'exchanged' for a car under the Motability scheme - any good local advice service should be able to tell you more.


4.2 DLA Lower Mobility 

The lower rate of the DLA Mobility Component, meanwhile, is paid to people who - although physically able to walk - need someone with them to guide them or monitor them when they're in unfamiliar surroundings. This could be due to tiredness or unsteadiness, a tendency to fall, problems with communication, or, equally well, anxiety or panic attacks - it doesn't have to be a physical problem that gets in the way.


4.3 PIP Mobility

The basic concepts – of physical difficulties mobilizing (as in DLA higher Mobility) and the guidance and monitoring in unfamiliar circumstances (of DLA Lower Mobility)  carry over into PIP Mobility. However, the two are merged within the PIP scoring system, so that -  unlike under DLA - it is now possible for those with slightly less severe physical difficulties walking around to get the lower amount and for those with more profound needs for guidance and monitoring to get the higher one. The general direction though in this flexibility is for a decrease in PIP Mobility awards over DLA ones. More on this rather different PIP approach in Part 2



  1. How to make a claim:


5.1 Claiming AA and DLA

Both these benefits can be claimed using paper forms or online. You can order a dated AA claim form by ringing the Attendance Allowance Helpline on 0345 605 6055. 

You can only make a new claim for DLA for children and young people aged under 16 – again by ringing for a form this time on 03457 123456. You can also download a form to fill up on screen. See the link below for more details 

When you order a form, it will be dated with the date you asked for it. You then have up to 6 weeks to return it. The advantage of requesting such a dated form is that any award will then be payable from the date the form was issued. Otherwise there is no backdating possible for new claims.

There are now no longer any adult DLA packs being issued across the UK. If  your award is due to run out or you need it looked at again because you feel things have changed for you, then you will be invited to claim PIP instead - you may want to get advice before making a voluntary switch. The only exception will be for people aged over 65 at 8.04.13  if they happen to need to have their DLA renewed or looked at again. 

AA and DLA forms contain some straightforward questions which you may know the answers too – Who am I? Where am I?  as in name and address rather than philosophically . But the big filling sandwiched between two sets of these more straightforward questions is a big filling of blank boxes to describe “How am I?” and all the difficulties you face. 


5.2 Claiming PIP 

PIP works rather differently, in that the two sorts of questions - that appear on the same form under AA and DLA - are dealt with separately under PIP. 

When you ring them – this time on 0800 917 2222 – they will be very keen to ask those more factual questions over the phone and enter your claim onto the system. You can though speak to them briefly and then hand over to someone else to carry on the conversation.

Or with some reluctance, they can be pushed into sending you those same questions on a PIP 1 Claim form. You can see what one looks like – and what questions they will ask on the phone by clicking on the link below.  You cannot however use that sample form to make a claim.

The “how your difficulties affect you?” questions will follow in a separate  PIP2 form which they will then send you a couple of weeks after your claim  – you can see a blank example form. You then get 4 weeks to fill those in.



  1. Filling in claim forms 


6.1 Claiming AA, DLA or PIP under the special rules

If an AA, DLA or PIP claim is under special rules, the person with cancer does not have to be involved at all.  Anyone can make the claim on their behalf, but the claimant will receive a letter telling them about the award – though not mentioning the criteria. 

There is no need to describe day to day difficulties on AA and DLA forms,  except for Mobility ones under DLA, so you can leave most of the claim pack blank.  For PIP, these mobility questions will be asked during the phone claim or via the PIP1 claim form. This avoids any delay that would be caused from sending out and returning a "PIP2 How Your Disability Affects you?" form.

The form either goes in with a DS1500 medical certificate or that can be sent separately


6.2 Filling in the big boxes for claims under the normal rules 

For others, there is a need to fill in the middle parts of AA and DLA forms or the separate PIP2 forms, to explain the day to day health related limitations that you face. A GREAT deal of very personal and potentially upsetting information is asked for; it's one thing to know how limited you have become, it's quite another to have to put it down on paper - to face up to it in black and white. And equally helping loved ones with such claims can be very painful for relatives and friends

I hope then that you might consider getting 'outside' help with your application - either from a benefits advisor at a Maggie's Centre or another good and sensitive source of advice. If you're not aware of any such source in your area, then your local authority or library service might be able to help you track one down - or ask people involved in your care if they are aware of anyone who might help. 


6.3 Medical evidence and assessment

You don't usually have to undergo any sort of medical examination for your claim for AA and DLA, but the DWP do sometimes decide to ask for this. You can reduce the chances of this happening - and increase the chances of your claim being successful - if you can get some sort of medical evidence to go with it. This could be the 'statement' part of the form completed by your GP, Consultant or nurse or a separate letter or letters - as long as it's supportive, the more you can send, the better.

The PIP process is much keener on everyone having an assessment session with one of the Health Professionals from the two private assessment providers, Atos and Capita. They will however certainly look first at all the information you send in, so that it is still common to avoid the need for such a face to face session.

The other sort of medical evidence you may be able to access to send with your DLA application is any recent report in relation to an ESA award. You can request copies of these from the DWP - but it's always a good idea to have a read through before sending them off, just in case they have missed anything, or contradict what you have said on your form.

For special rules claims the only requirement is for a DS1500 certificate. No other medical evidence is needed and there will be no need for any medical assessment.



  1. Getting a decision on your claim 


7.1 How long will it take ?

Special rules claims are usually decided within a week or two, but claims under the normal rules can take some time- although you should get an acknowledgement of your claim soon after posting.

For claims under the ordinary rules, AA and DLA suggest allowing up to 11 weeks, though this may be much quicker if they don't feel the need for you to have a medical assessment.

PIP has always had a similar 13 week target, but disgraced itself with waits of a year or more in the early chaos. However, normal service resumed / started from January 2015 and you can now expect it to take up to 13 weeks


7.2 Linked increases in means tested benefits

If you currently receive a means tested benefit, an award of one of the "disability benefits" will never mean a reduction in your means tested benefit and can often entitle you to an increase there as well. However long it takes to get your AA, DLA or PIP award, any extra amounts within means tested benefits or tax credits can be fully backdated, as can Carer's Allowance for a carer. These extra amounts are known as disability premiums or elements within the legacy benefits means tested benefits and additions within Pension Credit. 

Universal Credit does not have any adult disability elements, so AA, DLA or PIP don't usually trigger any increases within UC.  Exceptions include:

  • for children getting DLA or PIP - as there is an extra child disability addition
  • for older people drawn into Universal Credit  by starting a claim with a partner under pension age. In that situation the older partner may get some extra entitlement if they receive a disability benefit. Do get advice in that situation as to whether there may be a way to still claim legacy benefits instead, as there can be a considerable financial difference. 

Sometimes you are not entitled to a means tested benefit as things stand now,  but would be when AA, DLA or PIP sprinkle their magic dust. In these circumstances, it may well be worth making precautionary claims for those means tested benefits such as Pension Credit or Housing Benefit. The answer may be a correct and predictable "No”  for the moment,  but you can then reclaim PC once your award of AA, DLA or PIP is successful. Your new claim will then connect with the old one and so can be fully backdated. Otherwise, restrictions on making a backdated claim for means tested benefits, may mean that you could miss out on a considerable amount. 

This is especially so if the initial response to your disability benefit claim is also a no. It is then really worth getting advice about how you can challenge that decision; this can be very successful, but can take quite some time. So that  extends potential losses if you haven't protected your means tested benefits claim. You might be happy to leave off making that precautionary claim until then, but you may want to have another think, should you need to challenge a decision. It can take many months, or even a year to get to an appeal and that could mean a big loss of potential means tested income. 


7.3 How long will my award be for?

Awards are made for varying lengths of time - from six months minimum for DLA to indefinitely. Often it can seem puzzling if you are being told by the medics that you will have cancer for many years to be awarded benefit for a much shorter time. But remember that the key thing for benefits is less your diagnosis and more the day to day impacts on you and that can change through your cancer journey. 

So, it is quite common for relatively short awards to be made for that hectic time after diagnosis when surgery and aggressive treatments can lay you rather low. But then for a perhaps longer awards, perhaps at a lower level, as you maybe settle into recovery during a time of less severe late effects or less drastic follow up treatments. 

So, a time limited award doesn't mean that you will lose entitlement after that time, just that you will need to re-apply, based on the difficulties you are experiencing then.

If you have were awarded adult DLA before June 2013 in Great Britain or June 2016 in Northern Ireland, you will be sent an invitation to claim PIP instead of a renewal pack. This will also apply to any new Child DLA claims once the young person turns 16. 

If you are still on “working age”  DLA, then you will also be receiving an invitation to claim PIP instead regardless of how long your DLA award has to run or even if it was indefinite. These invitations - or "offers you can't refuse" - started going out in October 2015 in Great Britain and the last ones should have gone out by October 2018. In N. Ireland the same process kicks off in December 2016 with some added mitigation measures in place that gives you some additional protections if you are turned down for PIP.


7.4 Not taking "No" for an answer

Sometimes people are genuinely and correctly turned down for these benefits. That doesn't mean that they don't have genuine difficulties or are being disbelieved, it's just that the level of those difficulties might not be sufficient for the benefit.

However, people are, not infrequently, wrongly turned down for these benefits, or awarded it at a rate lower than they should have been. If you think this may have happened to you, then remember that there's a good chance that this decision can be changed, and try to get support in doing so. There seem particular problems and a high appeal success rate of 75%  - with PIP.

There is a 2 stage process - first asking the DWP to have another think and then putting the matter before an independent appeal.  There can always be genuine and reasonable differences of opinion, but too often Tribunals are expressing their astonishment that appeals have ever got so far, and the 75% success rate at PIP appeals does suggest something is not quite right

Do get advice.  You have done the hardest work already and challenging a decision is not as difficult as it may first sound. The moral then is NEVER TAKE NO for an answer; or at least not without having a chat with me or a local adviser first 



Well that’s quite enough…

Apologies then that a  once decently sized blog has got longer, but that’s often the way with welfare reform.

For face to face support whether to make a special rules claim or fill in all the boxes under a normal rules one, then do contact your nearest Maggie’s Centre. 

If there isn’t one near you then you may want to check out alternative sources of advice more locally such as Macmillan Benefit Advisers or Citizen’s Advice see links below .  

In Part 2 of this series of blogs I will move on to take a more detailed look  at the slightly different points based approach taken by PIP, before moving on to look at how these relate to the kinds of difficulties that often come with cancer and then finally consider how late effects means that you may still qualify for a disability benefit sometime after immediate recovery from surgery and major treatments .

My thanks to Jude and all the other people affected by cancer who continue to inspire my bloggings.




Links and further reading


External links:

  • details of opening times for the AA claim line are available here.
  • details of the DLA claim line and form are available here
  • Citizens Advice - general suggestions on completing an AA form linking to more information about AA - here
  • Citizens Advice - general suggestions on filling in a DLA form for someone under 16 and information on DLA - here

For more information on PIP,  please see Part 2 of this series and the links from there


Other blogs in this series:

  • In Part 2 – a look at how PIP works in a very different more points based way - here
  • In Part 3-  a look at how the PIP points system might apply to common difficulties experienced by people with a cancer diagnosis -here
  • In Part 4 – a return to all three benefits, as they deal with the sheer "variability" of the effects cancer and its treatments can cause - here.  
  • in Part 5 -  how "late effects" can mean a further award when it's time to renew your claim during recovery - here 


Other benefit blogs you might like to view:


Getting face to face help from an adviser

There is an art to getting over all the relevant difficulties if you need to do the full claim form for any of the disability benefits. This series will help you understand what they are looking for but you may want to get face to face help from a benefits advisor from the start :

  • visit your local Maggie's Centre  and talk with one of our benefits advisors. Find your local centre here
  • see if there is a Macmillan benefits advice service near you - here
  • find your local Citizens Advice office: in England & Wales - here. In Scotland - here

Get cancer support near you

To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.

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