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Government extends benefit fast-track for terminal illness

More people nearing the end of their life will now get fast-track access to Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance after the government loosened the eligibility criteria.

As of today, people thought to be in the last 12 months of their life will be able to receive benefit payments under rules that exempt them from needing a face-to-face assessment. The government says that in most cases they will receive the highest rate of benefits.

Previously the ‘Special Rules for End of Life’ only applied to those thought to have up to six months to live – leading to controversy over people dying while waiting for their disability benefit claims to be approved.

Today’s changes only apply to Universal Credit and the ESA disability benefit. The government says the changes will be extended to the Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance as soon as parliamentary time allows.

A person who makes a new claim for Universal Credit under the end of life rules could receive an extra £354.28 a month for having limited capability for work and work-related activity.

person wearing gold wedding band

Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said: ‘Helping more people in the final year of their life get faster access to vital financial support is the right thing to do.

‘I hope by extending this support it will alleviate the financial concerns  of those nearing the end of their life and their families in the most challenging of times.’

Marie Curie Chief Executive Matthew Reed added: ‘We are delighted to see this important change come into force today for Universal Credit and ESA claimants, following years of campaigning.

‘This will help ensure more dying people can concentrate on making the most of the limited time they have left, rather than worrying about their finances.’

Sally Light, Head of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, commented: ‘I am pleased that as of today long fought-for changes to the Special Rules for Terminal Illness will come into effect for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

‘We now hope that more people living with complex and unpredictable terminal illnesses like motor neurone disease will be able to access the support they need via those benefits swiftly and sensitively.’

Photo by National Cancer Institute

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