More than 100 teens in Midlothian stripped of disability benefits after 16th birthday

More than 100 teenagers in Midlothian were stripped of disability benefits after their 16th birthday, figures show.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:07 pm
A view of signage for the Department of Work & Pensions in Westminster, London. Photo: PA

A third of the young people who claimed Disability Living Allowance in childhood failed to qualify for the adult version of the benefit, Personal Independence Payment

A spokesman for Disability Rights UK said a sudden loss of benefits could be traumatic for disabled young people and their families and said support needed in childhood did not disappear at 16.

An estimated 197 young claimants in the area - 55 per cent - saw their benefit award rates increase or stay the same after moving to PIP but 119 had their awards withdrawn, according to data from the Department of Work and Pensions.

Of the cases disallowed between October 2013 and October last year, 83 applicants were rejected after failing to score enough points - awarded to reflect their mobility and care needs - during the assessment part of the process.

There were also five youngsters who were refused due to failing to attend assessments without good reason and 31 who did not meet the basic eligibility criteria.

Another 45 applicants were approved for PIP but had their award rate cut.

Where the number of outcomes is nil or very low, figures have been excluded so totals could be higher.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said over 60 per cent of child DLA claimants go on to receive PIP, with award rates staying the same or increasing for over half of claimants.

He said the Government was working hard to ensure disabled young adults received support, adding: “PIP is designed to assess how people are affected by their disability, rather than just the disability itself. Many DLA claimants have not undergone any kind of assessment of their needs for several years and as a result their condition or their needs arising from their condition may have changed substantially.”

DLA and PIP are awarded to help meet the extra costs associated with long term health conditions and disabilities, with claimants currently entitled to receive up to £152 a week tax free.

Ken Butler from Disability Rights UK said sudden withdrawal of benefit support at a young age could be traumatic and impact upon household finances and the ability to remain in education.

He said: “If a young person is still meeting the conditions for DLA while a teenager, it is difficult to see why they would not continue to have the same level of needs at 16.

“The level of support and extra financial costs do not disappear overnight when a disabled young person becomes 16.”