Epilepsy and Welfare Benefits

If you have epilepsy, what are you entitled to and how do you claim?

Turn2us has been frequently hearing from people with epilepsy saying they are struggling to get access to welfare benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP).




We spoke to a NHS clinical nurse specialist for epilepsy, who outlined the problem:

“When patients present for an assessment for PIP, they are usually well, having had no seizures. On the outside, as with mental health, they appear well.

“It has become increasingly difficult to explain to assessors that when a person has epilepsy they often have a condition that will render them incapacitated for several times a day and the effects of seizures can last days to weeks.

“Overtime family become carers, often resulting in loss of employment opportunities or decreasing work hours and ultimately isolation.

Epilepsy

If you have epilepsy, you may be entitled to a range of welfare benefits. What you can claim and how much you can receive will depend on your personal circumstances. You can use the Benefits Calculator to find out what you are entitled to.

The following explains how to apply for PIP and what you should do if you are unsuccessful.

PIP

PIP is money for people who have extra care needs or mobility needs as a result of a disability.

To claim PIP, you will need to fill out an initial form. You can get the claim form by ringing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). You should start collecting the documents that you want to put with your claim at this point.

Once the form arrives you should fill it in and send it back to the DWP with any documents you have.

You will then hear from Atos or Capita to arrange a medical assessment. After the assessment, you will receive a letter telling you of the result.

Find out more about Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Appealing

If you are unsuccessful in claiming after your first face-to-face assessment, you can appeal. The first stage of appealing PIP is a mandatory reconsideration.

A mandatory reconsideration is when the DWP look at their decision again and decide whether to change it.

If the decision is still not changed, you can appeal to a tribunal. The tribunal is independent to the DWP.

In the last four years, only 4% of all PIP decisions were overturned at mandatory reconsideration. However, at the tribunal stage of PIP, a staggering 72% of appeals were overturned. So if you believe the decision is wrong, it is worth going to the tribunal stage.

If you need help appealing a decision, you can Find an Adviser near you.

New NHS ‘Help Us, Help You’ Campaign Supports the Public to Stay Well over the Winter Months

This winter, NHS England and Public Health England are helping the public to better understand what actions they can take to manage their own health and get the best out of their NHS with the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign.




During the winter months, ‘Help Us, Help You’ will highlight that by following the expert advice of NHS staff, the public can take the right steps to stay well, prevent an illness getting worse, or get well again sooner.

Stay Well this Winter

If you are eligible, the best way to help you avoid flu is to have the flu jab, as well as helping the NHS. And this year the flu programme is bigger than ever with 24 million people in England being offered the flu jab.

Older people across the country are being offered a more effective vaccine as part of the programme, which is providing a record 8.5 million doses, free of charge.

The campaign will also help to educate the public on how best to use a number of services:

  • NHS 111 – you should phone 111 for urgent, but non-life-threatening medical needs where a specially trained advisor will be able to tell you the best course of action
  • Extended GP hours – appointments with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional are now available in the evenings and weekends, either at your local practice or another nearby NHS service
  • Community pharmacies – at the first signs of winter illness or for minor health conditions that do not require a GP appointment, you should visit your local pharmacist, who is a qualified healthcare professional, and could be able to give you something to help more quickly

New research from a survey of 2,000 UK adults has revealed that 8 out of 10 people believe they are responsible for keeping themselves healthy and a further 9 in 10 agree that they could help the NHS by taking NHS advice on how to stay well and making sure as a patient, they use the right services.

The research also showed that 8 in 10 agree that too many people visit A&E when they don’t need to and go to their GP when they could get help from the pharmacist. Around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E are for self-treatable conditions. Although A&E is there for those who need it in an emergency, alternative services can be better depending on medical needs.

If other NHS services were used correctly across England, it is estimated nearly four in ten visits to A&E could be avoided.

Dr Dawn Harper said: “To ensure every patient who needs it gets the best care possible, it’s important that the NHS and the public understand each other, and that’s what ‘Help Us, Help You’ is all about.

It’s our job to make sure the public are properly informed about the full range of services available to them, and it’s the public’s job to make good use of those services when needed. Our hope is that this winter, we can help improve the speed and availability of A&E care for those who truly need it, together.”

Over half of those surveyed (52%) admit they do not feel confident they know when they should visit a pharmacist instead of their GP, while 56% admit they are not confident about when to call 111. Furthermore, over half of respondents are not aware that their surgery offers early-morning, evening, or weekend appointments.

 How the campaign reminds people to stay well during winter

The same research has shown that only half of people (50%) are confident of the things they can do to reduce the likelihood of catching a winter illness. There are a number of things that these people can do to keep themselves and their family well this winter, such as keeping warm, stocking up on prescriptions, receiving a free flu jab if eligible, visiting their community pharmacist at the first signs of winter illness and checking in on elderly neighbours and relatives.

The NHS ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign will also from part of ‘Help Us, Help You.’ For some people, such as those with underlying health conditions, older people, pregnant women and young children, winter ailments can be more serious, and they are more likely to end up in hospital or need to use other NHS services.

During the winter months cold weather can have a bigger impact on your health. Exposure to cold indoor or outdoor temperatures increases blood pressure and can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.Research also shows that for every one-degree centigrade drop below five degrees in outdoor average temperatures, there is more than a 10 per cent increase in older people consulting their GP for breathing problems, a 0.8 per cent increase in emergency hospital admissions and a 3.4 per increase in deaths.

The research also showed that 8 in 10 agree that too many people visit A&E when they don’t need to and go to their GP when they could get help from the pharmacist. Around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E are for self-treatable conditions. Although A&E is there for those who need it in an emergency, alternative services can be better depending on medical needs.

About NHS England
NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England – setting the priorities and direction, encouraging and informing the national debate to improve health and care.

The NHS in England deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours and employs more than 1.5 million people, putting it in the top five of the world’s largest workforces NHS England shares out more than £100 billion in funds and holds organisations to account for spending this money effectively for patients and efficiently for the tax payer. It strongly believes in health and high quality care for all, now and for future generations.

About Public Health England

PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care. For more information on PHE visit www.gov.uk/phe or follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

If other NHS services were used correctly across England, it is estimated nearly four in ten visits to A&E could be avoided.

To find out more about how you can help the NHS help you this winter including leaflets in easy read, audio, large print, BSL and braille visit: www.nhs.uk/staywell