Disability benefits fall short of covering costs people with sight loss face
Thursday, 30 November 2017
Research has revealed that benefits and minimum wages often don’t provide blind and partially sighted people with the extra income they need.
Benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance help cover the additional costs of living with a disability, while Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), tax credits and Pension Credit provide income for everyday living costs for those who lack sufficient income from other sources such as earnings or pensions.
But do these provide people with sight loss the income they need in order to meet a minimum income standard (MIS)? MIS are a measure of what incomes people in different situations require for a minimum acceptable standard of living.
Research by Loughborough University, which was commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust, drew on examples of sight impaired and severely sight impaired people receiving different amounts of income from different sources, such as wages and benefits, and compared this to the income they need in order to meet a MIS.
Findings showed that:
Visual impairment brings substantial additional costs. Costs are also greater for people who are severely sight impaired than for people who are sight impaired, and greater for visually impaired people of pension age than for those of working age.
Benefits for additional costs of disability often fall short of covering the extra expenses of having sight loss.
Receipt of PIP or Attendance Allowance can also trigger supplements to other benefits, such as ESA and Pension Credit.
Evidence also shows that blind and partially sighted people are less likely to work than, or to have as much income as, people without disabilities. Fewer than one in four people who are sight impaired or severely sight impaired of working age are in work, and over a third of those are only in part-time work (My Voice, RNIB 2015).
One of the recommendations from the study is that priority should be given to ensuring that claimants receive the correct award following the initial assessment.
The study also illustrates why a periodic review of the adequacy of benefits is so important to people with sight loss, as well as a benefit check to make sure individual entitlements are being claimed, as they contribute greatly to their ability to reach an adequate overall income.
Want to make sure you’re receiving what you’re entitled to? Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 999 to have a benefit check and advice on how to claim. If an appeal is needed later, RNIB Legal Rights Service will be there to help.