CORONAVIRUS: If you are already getting Housing Benefit, Income-Related ESA, Income-Based JSA, or Income Support and you get daily living Personal Independence Payment then you may be protected from claiming Universal Credit – seek advice before making a claim.
What is the Severe Disability Premium Gateway?
In January 2019 the government introduced a new rule that protects certain disabled claimants from having to claim Universal Credit at the moment.
Instead, for the time being, they can stay on or make new claims for any of the ‘legacy benefits’ ie:
- Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit.
How does the Severe Disability Premium Gateway Condition work?
If you are getting the ‘Severe Disability Premium’ in an existing or recent benefit award and you continue to meet the qualifying conditions for it, you may not be able to make a new claim for Universal Credit.
Instead you can stay on the legacy benefit system until you are told you have to claim Universal Credit. You may then be entitled to some ‘transitional protection’.
What is the Severe Disability Premium?
The Severe Disability Premium is not a benefit in its own right – but an addition that is included when an award for Income-Related ESA, Income-Based JSA, Income Support or Housing Benefit is assessed.
It is given to claimants with a recognised need for care but who have no-one caring for, or who could be expected to care, for them.
Why were these rules introduced?
These rules were introduced because there is no equivalent extra money in Universal Credit. So, where someone getting the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) had a change in their circumstances that triggered the need to claim Universal Credit, but would not have meant the loss of the SDP, they would have lost a significant amount of income.
So this ‘Gateway Rule’ says that anyone who is in the following situations will not be able to make a new claim for Universal Credit:
- They have the Severe Disability Premium included in their Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Housing Benefit award.
- They have had it included in a claim for one of these benefits in the past month and have continued to meet the qualifying conditions for it ever since.
- They still meet the qualifying conditions for it after having the change in circumstances that is triggering the need to claim extra help.
If this applies to you then you will be able to remain on, or make a new claim for, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits or Housing Benefit – and so will retain your Severe Disability Premium.
How do I know if I am getting the Severe Disability Premium?
Look on your benefit award letters to see if it includes the Severe Disability Premium – sometimes called ‘extra money because you are severely disabled’. If you’re not sure contact a benefits adviser.
The Severe Disability Premium is an extra amount (£66.95 pw from April 2020) which should be included when someone’s Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Housing Benefit is assessed where all three of these situations apply:
- They are getting Daily Living Personal Independence Payment, mid or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance,
- No-one gets paid Carers Allowance or has the Carer Element included in an award of Universal Credit for looking after them,
- They either live alone or are treated as living alone – ie certain household members are ignored, such as dependent children, other household members getting one of the benefits listed above, and lodgers.
If you are not sure whether you are getting the Severe Disability Premium included when your benefits are assessed – or whether you are entitled to it (and many people do miss out on this addition) – then contact a benefits adviser or ask us for help.
Angela has been claiming Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance. She also gets standard rate daily living Personal Independence Payment. She lives alone and no-one carers for her, this means that when her Income-Related ESA is assessed it includes a Severe Disability Premium. Following a recent ESA medical assessment Angela is found fit for work – this means her Income-Related ESA is ending. She’s worried that she will need to claim Universal Credit and so contacts her Support Worker who explains that normally this would be a trigger, but she is protected by the SDP Gateway Condition, and can make a new claim for Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance instead which will include a Severe Disability Premium. Because there is no gap between her Income-Related ESA ending and Income-Based JSA starting, Her Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support are unaffected. Her Support Worker is also going to help her challenge the ‘found fit’ decision.
Nigel has been living alone, but is moving in with his partner at the weekend. Nigel has been getting Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance and gets mid rate care Disability Living Allowance. Because he lives alone and no-one cares for him, his Income-Based JSA award include a Severe Disability Premium. His partner Tina works and has two children. She has been getting Working Tax Credit to top up her income and help pay for her childcare costs.
When Nigel moves in with Tina he will no longer be living alone, and he would lose the Severe Disability Premium and so there is nothing to protect. Moving in as a couple will bring Tina’s Tax Credit award to an end and they will need to make a new claim for Universal Credit.
Mohammed has been living at his daughters house since his wife dies 3 years ago. He gets Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance and enhanced rate daily living Personal Independence Payment. At the moment because he is not classed as living alone his Income-Related ESA award does not include a Severe Disability Premium. He has been offered a one bedroom flat which he moves into on Monday. The Lettings Officer explains that normally taking on a rental liability would trigger the need to claim Universal Credit, but that Mohammed can avoid it and be around £45 a week better off. He follows her advice and when he moves in he contacts the ESA Department to let them know that he has moved, that he is now living on his own and that no-one is getting paid Carers Allowance or has a Carer Element included in their Universal Credit award for looking after him. His IR-ESA award is reassessed to include the Severe Disability Premium. He then makes a new claim for Housing Benefit.
IMPORTANT: If you are not currently getting the Severe Disability Premium but are having a change in your circumstances, check whether you are now entitled to it before you make a claim for Universal Credit.