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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 (SPA) for men and women, which recently increased to 66. Further increases in the SPA are planned – ultimately to 68 – although the precise timetable is to be confirmed.

People can continue to get DLA or PIP beyond the upper age limit if they continue to satisfy the relevant disability tests, but new claims must have been made before they reached the relevant age threshold. Attendance Allowance (AA) may be claimed by people above State Pension Age and with care needs, but it has no mobility component.

Effect on other benefits

The upper age limit means that people with health problems or disabilities that 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 linked to receipt of the DLA or PIP mobility component, including the Motability scheme and exemption from Vehicle Excise Duty.

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 State 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.

Scotland’s new disability benefits

Disability benefits are now devolved to Scotland, and the Scottish Government is replacing extra costs benefits with its own disability payments. Some respondents to a recent consultation in Scotland suggested that the planned Pension Age Disability Payment (formerly known as Disability Assistance for Older People) – which is to replace Attendance Allowance – should have a mobility component. The Scottish Government, however, believes this would be “unachievable” given the likely cost, the interaction with reserved benefits, and the effect on other “passported” benefits.

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