Around 25% of the population (both here and worldwide) have some kind of disability. Not only does this make life difficult regarding accessibility, but often it’s a more expensive lifestyle as you have to buy adaptive devices and comfortable wheelchairs. Be sure to check online benefits calculators, as often disabled people (and their carers) are not receiving the full benefits they are entitled to. Sometimes you can claim around 3 months backpay (if you didn’t know). But you have to ask, it’s not offered automatically. Visit help our carers tag, for more helpful resources.
financial grants to help people with disabilities
The government offers Disabled Facilities Grants (these don’t affect other benefits) that can be used to widen doors, install ramps or grab rails, improve access, build downstairs bathrooms, install heating systems or easier-to-use heating or lighting controls. Family Fund can offer grants to help children with disabilities, including home and garden adaptations, sensory toys, clothing and even days out and holidays.
where to find free or discounted disability aids
NHS website has information on how to apply for a free walking stick, wheelchair or other mobility device. Although NHS wheelchairs are free, some people are eligible to apply for budget help to go towards buying one that is better to use and more comfortable. Therefore instead of being stuck with a rigid uncomfortable wheelchair that won’t move, you can head to Argos and get a decent one, and read reviews before you buy. Which? has a good post on how to choose the best wheelchair for your needs.
Wheelchairs that are free on the NHS may not be good for short or tall people, nor comfortable for people who are very underweight or overweight. They are also often more cumbersome to push for carers. Speak to your GP about applying for the budget, which can give you extra towards buying a better quality wheelchair.
Remap is a super little organisation, where ‘garage tinkerers’ come up with free inventions to help unique needs for disabled people. Previous ‘wins’ include a relaxing garden chair for an amputee, an oven door opener (for someone with weak hands), a one-handed sandwich cutter (for a stroke survivor) and even an emergency brake for a woman prone to epileptic fits, in case she had one when out with her baby. If there’s a problem, some inventive tinkering mind in England can likely solve it!
Ben Ryan created a fantastic bionic limb for his young son, who had to have a limb amputated at birth, due to a blood clot. He quit his job to set up Ambionics in his home in North Wales and despite winning an inventor’s prize, the government won’t fund him. So this genius could change the lives of so many children, and yet our MPs spend money on bombs.
disability benefits entitle you to other benefits
It’s important to know that once you qualify for disability benefits, it’s almost certain that you will then qualify for other benefits, and not all of them are automatic, do take some time to seek them out, to ensure you are getting everything that you are entitled to. Prescriptions are usually free, ask your GP. Same with dental care. If buying goods in shops or online related to your disability, you can ask for VAT to be not added, as you legally don’t have to pay it. Some of the other benefits you may qualify for include:
Check with your local water board, as most offer capped bills for disabled people, as often more water is needed for care needs etc. The same applies for parents on benefits who have three or more children under 19.
You can claim a 50% discount on your TV license (over 75 or on Pension Credit is free) and also receive discounts if you live in residental care. You also get a discount if you are registered blind (one of the most bonkers rules in England is that you also get a discount as a blind person if your TV is black-and-white?) Why on earth is this not free? No wonder people are campaigning against TV license fees.
Relay is a free app to help people who have difficulty using the telephone. You can also register with BT Protected Services Scheme, so they have another contact to avoid cutting off your bill, in case you forget to pay. BT Home Essentials offers cheaper calls and broadband (and ask about BT Priority Repair and free BT directory enquiries).
If you’re registered blind, Royal Mail offers free postage (national and international) of books, printed materials,audio/electronic media and mobility aids. Also benefit from free loan of digital radios. Blind and partially-sighted adults and children can get free loan of touch-to-see books from Living Paintings Library.
People who use wheelchairs may also be entitled to other free equipment to make their homes safer including raised toilet seats, bath rails and slip mats, easy-grip kitchen equipment, bed rails and reclining chairs. For just £5, you can receive a radar key (to access disabled toilets). Also apply for a blue badge (for easier parking).
The Disabled Person’s Railcard is available for many people on benefits (and epilepsy). It costs £20 for 1 year and entitles a third savings on all fares. Read rules/tips for train travel with pets. Animals must be kept on leads or in carriers, and bring water and treats, to keep them relaxed. Pets are not allowed on seats or escalators (they must be carried) and never allow animals near train.
You can claim for compensation if you were made disabled (or have mental health issues) while serving in the Armed Forces (including the reserve forces). Paid as a lump sum or regular payments, you can also claim if you were victim of a violent crime while serving abroad, under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.