It can be a difficult working out which benefit to apply for... New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit (UC); Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Attendance Allowance (AA) and which other benefits that might apply to you depending on your particular circumstances.
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UK ME & Chronic Illness Benefits Advice Group
This is an excellent Facebook group that you can join to contact some really lovely and crucially, very knowledgeable “group admins” and other people with ME/CFS, who have already gone through the application, mandatory reconsideration and appeals processes for various benefits. They also have lots of very well written information files and people in the group will always help you find the right information.
We hope this group will be very useful for you. If you don’t have a Facebook account, please contact our committee and one of them will ask your question to the group for you.
Please do try and make contact with this group prior to applying to the DWP, as getting your application right first time can reduce the stress involved. Once you contact the DWP to apply, you initially have a four week time limit to complete the form, if you need more time to fill in the form or to collect more medical evidence to support your claim then you will be able to phone up and request a time extension, they usually give these four weeks at a time.
Disability Rights UK
A member of the committee can also send a query on your behalf, (especially if your situation is complex and no one at the Facebook group knows the answer) to Ken Butler, the benefits advisor from Disability Rights UK.
We also have copies of their guides for applying for and appealing benefits.
Other Sources of Help
Benefits and Work have very good guides and advice. There is a membership fee to join the group, which is good value for money. Someone in our group may also have their up to date guides. It’s always worth asking!
Citizens Advice have very useful, step by step guides to applying for benefits.
Even the UK government website has some surprisingly useful resources!
If you would like to, please do contact the Richmond and Kingston ME Group committee
Unfortunately in many cases the DWP don’t award you the level of benefit you deserve at your initial application you have the right to ask for a mandatory reconsideration also DWP and then the right to appeal your claim at an independent tribunal, which, thankfully has a very much higher success rate for people with ME and other chronic illnesses.
We are subscribed to the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K), who we can refer you to, in order to receive free legal representation for your appeal. If you need more information let us know.
The Disability Law Service (DLS) is an excellent source of help but is currently closed. See their website for updates.
We hope this has given you food for thought regarding claiming benefits.
If you have a useful link we could add or advice to share, please let us know. Thanks!