RNIB NI supports people with sight loss to claim over £950K in unclaimed benefits

Post date: 
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Northern Ireland

From April 2014 to March 2015 RNIB NI Welfare Rights team secured a life changing £956,896 in previously unclaimed benefits for people who are blind or partially sighted across Northern Ireland.  This extra income can mean the difference between isolation and stress over financial uncertainty, to being able to get out and about independently to necessary appointments, places of work or leisure and make the most of life.

The benefits system can seem very confusing. It's not always easy to know what you qualify for or what to write on an application form. We offer a confidential benefits check and advisory service free of charge for people who are blind or partially sighted. Our qualified advisers can provide information on the full range of social security benefits, tax credits and other allowances or concessions available to people with sight loss. 

Visit our webpage that explains more about RNIB NI’s Welfare Rights service in Northern Ireland.

A story of success 
One notable success this past year was for Ben.  At the time of his sight loss Ben lived in Belfast and had just finished his education.  He enjoyed an active life riding his motorbike and had not long started a part time job.  At the age of 19 his vision deteriorated rapidly overnight.  He attended his local Optician who urged Ben to attend the Emergency Eye Clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.
Whilst in hospital and nervously waiting for a diagnosis, Ben and his family were offered practical and emotional support by one of our Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs).
Our ECLOs work closely with medical staff in the eye clinic, and sensory support teams in social services, to help people understand their diagnosis, deal with the affects of their sight loss and signpost them to other services that can help.
Ben was informed that his sight was not going to improve and he was registered as severely sight impaired by his ophthalmic Consultant.  As a result, he was not able to return to his job, was struggling to get around independently and found doing everyday things much more difficult.  
An ECLO referred Ben to one of our Welfare Rights Advisers who met with Ben and supported him in claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and a family member was able to claim Carer's Allowance as Ben’s carer.
In total, we were able to successfully secure £11,000 in benefits for Ben and his family. The Welfare Rights team were also able to secure other benefits like the Blue Badge, 50% off his TV licence fee and a free travel pass from Translink, the public transport provider in Northern Ireland.
Ben remains in contact with a range of other services within RNIB including our Employment Service and Youth Service.

Get in touch

We want to make every day better for everyone affected by sight loss, by being there when people need us and supporting independent living.  If you, or a member of your family, are affected by sight loss and wish to talk to us about Social Security benefits or other concessions that you could be entitled to, please contact us on 028 9032 9373 or email [email protected]