BENEFITS EXPERT: Benefits for mental health issues?

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Our daughter was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) four years ago and although she has been able to work she is now off sick.

She receives Employment and Support Allowance and some help with her rent and Council Tax but we still have to help her out. We have heard that there are benefits for people with mental health issues. Is there anything she could qualify for because of her OCD?

The benefit for working-age people with disabilities, either physical or mental, is called Personal Independence Payment or PIP. It is paid in recognition of the problems a person has with their ‘daily living activities’ or their ‘mobility activities’ or both.

 Payments range from £21.80 to £139.75 a week depending upon individual need.

 However, there is no list of disabilities or conditions that would automatically entitle the person to PIP.

 Entitlement depends upon how much difficulty a person’s disability causes them in carrying out particular activities, not upon a specific condition.

 The assessment for PIP looks at 12 different types of activity and the person is awarded points depending upon their ability to manage them. Whether the person qualifies, and for how much, is based upon their total points score.

 I could not, therefore, predict if your daughter would be eligible for PIP without knowing a good deal about what her OCD prevents her from doing.  People with OCD can and do qualify for PIP, as the following example shows.

 But I must stress that all cases are different and I could not say if this would apply to your daughter.

Example: Among the activities in the PIP assessment for daily living are ‘preparing food’ ‘washing and bathing’ and ‘dressing and undressing’. A person with OCD may have to go through lengthy unavoidable rituals when engaging in these activities.

 If he/she is judged to be unable to cook, wash, bathe, dress and undress because they cannot complete these tasks in a reasonable time they will score enough points for PIP for daily living. If he/she could not undertake a journey because it would cause ‘overwhelming psychological distress’ due to OCD the mobility element of PIP would be payable as well.

 Your daughter can claim PIP by phoning 0800 917 2222. A representative can call on her behalf in her presence.

You have said that the new State Pension will not become payable until 6 April. I will reach pension age in March.

 If I defer claiming my State Pension until after April will I be able to claim the new pension?

No. It is the date you reach pension age, not the date from which you claim your pension that matters.