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Social security benefits for older people with mobility needs

Published Friday, January 10, 2020

Both Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (which is replacing DLA) provide help with the extra costs disabled people face when getting around. The DLA or PIP mobility component can continue to be paid indefinitely, but there is an upper age limit for new claims - now the State Pension Age. This means that some older people cannot get benefits for mobility needs and cannot access linked schemes such as Motability.

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What mobility benefits are available?

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit to help people with the extra costs of being disabled. The mobility component of DLA – for help with getting around – is paid at two different levels. The care component – for help with personal care needs – is paid at three levels. For people of working age, DLA is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which has a mobility component and a “daily living” component, each of which has two rates (“standard” and “enhanced”).

DLA and PIP age rules

For both DLA and PIP, there has always been an upper age limit for new claims. The age limit for DLA was 65, and this was carried over to PIP when it replaced DLA for new claims from April 2013.  The upper age limit is now the equalised State Pension Age (PSA) for men and women, which is rising beyond 65.  Further increases in the SPA are planned - ultimately to 68 - although the precise timetable is to be confirmed.

Effect on other benefits

The upper age limit for new DLA or PIP claims means that people with health problems or disabilities which emerge only after they have reached State Pension Age cannot get help through the benefits system for mobility needs. It also means that they are unable to access other benefits which are linked to receipt of the DLA or PIP mobility component, including the Motability scheme and exemption from vehicle tax.

Why is there an upper age limit?

Successive governments have justified the age limit for new claims on cost grounds and the need to give priority to those disabled earlier in life, who are likely to have had less opportunity to work, earn and save than those with mobility needs emerging only after they reach pension age.

Isn't this discrimination?

It is often argued that this constitutes age discrimination, but the courts have ruled that the age limit is not unlawful.

Commons Briefing papers SN07160

Author: Steven Kennedy

Topics: Disability discrimination, Pensions, Roads, Sickness, disability and carers' benefits

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