There are four main disability benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Adult Disability Payment (ADP) - only in Scotland

They are based on long term difficulties due to an illness or disability and not affected by earnings, most other benefits, income or savings. These benefits cannot be claimed or paid at the same time.

Prior to PIP being introduced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was the main disability benefit. It is not possible to make a claim for DLA now unless you are under 16. Most people who were on DLA have had to claim PIP instead.  Some adults are still on DLA, so if you are and your needs have changed due to a spinal cord injury you should seek advice before claiming PIP.

PIP or Adult Disability Payment can be claimed by those who are under state pension age. If you are awarded it, then you can continue being paid even after pension age.  You must have had care and mobility issues for a least three months before a claim is made. Therefore,  unless you had these needs before your injury you will need to be three months post injury before making a claim. However, if you have a terminal illness you may be able to claim straight away under ‘special rules’.

If you are over state pension age and not already in receipt of PIP, you will need to consider making a claim for Attendance Allowance. There is a qualifying period of six months which means you must have the needs for at least that time. 

Whilst claims can be made whilst you are an inpatient you will not receive a payment whilst in hospital or in some cases a care/ nursing home. If you are on any of these benefits already it is important to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of the start date of your admission as this will avoid any overpayment issues in the future.