This blog looks at whether an individual suffering from COPD can claim benefits. We define COPD and understand its nuances. 

The blog details the different schemes/provisions that can be utilized under certain conditions to provide relief for the person suffering from the ailment, COPD,  along with their caregivers. 

Can you claim benefits with COPD ? 

Yes , you will be able to claim benefits for COPD if the condition affects your mobility or increases your care requirements. 

However, benefits specifically tailored to COPD do not exist, neither does the condition in itself warrant an entitlement to welfare benefits.

Although there are no specific benefits that can be claimed for COPD, the restrictions that a debilitating and long-term illness or condition like COPD imposes on an individual entitles them to a spectrum of social welfare/disability benefits. 

These are offered to  people facing similar difficulties but perhaps due to different illnesses or circumstances. 

The condition could raise the requirements of care ,restrict mobility, and hinder a person’s ability to work, thereby creating exigent circumstances that justify the receipt of benefits. 

This is because, in myriad ways, an individual’s and their family’s quality of life is affected negatively due to COPD. 

These situations would warrant a claim to benefits due to COPD : 

  • You have special care requirements pertaining to the condition
  • You have restrictions on mobility due to the lung condition 
  • You are unable to work or have had to give up work due to the illness 
  • As a carer, you require benefits since you attend to the needs of someone with COPD

What is COPD ? 

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease- a group of lung conditions that affect breathing and gradually the condition becomes exacerbated,  such that an individual may be unable to perform their daily activities. 

COPD includes both emphysema (which is damage to the air sacs in the lungs and) and chronic bronchitis ( which refers to long-term inflammation of the airways). 

COPD is caused by smoking and usually manifests in middle-aged or older persons; sometimes, they are unaware of its onset and progress until the condition deteriorates and hinders normal activity. 

The condition cannot be cured or reversed but it can be controlled with medication; it has been observed , however, that the condition worsens over time and can even become life-threatening, especially for older patients.  

What benefits can be claimed for COPD ? 

Although there are no specific benefits that can be claimed for COPD, the restrictions that a debilitating and long-term illness or condition like COPD imposes on an individual entitles them to a range of social welfare/disability benefits. 

These include the following : 

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) 
  • Attendance Allowance (AA) 
  • The Blue-Badge Scheme 
  • Special Benefits and Concessions for Terminally Ill People 

We will look at each briefly, in turn. 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) 

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can be availed as a benefit if you suffer from COPD. 

PIP is generally paid to disabled individuals or persons with chronic/long-term health conditions/illnesses.They must be above the age of sixteen but below the State Pension Credit qualifying age. 

The PIP is given in lieu of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which is the equivalent for children with disabilities or chronic illnesses and health conditions. 

The eligibility criteria for PIP is quite simple and hassle-free. The claimant must have suffered from the ailment (in this case COPD) and expects the condition to persist for another nine months at the least.  

Since it is not means-tested and it is non-contributory in nature, the income you earn, savings etc. are not taken into consideration. Even people who are unemployed or unable to work are eligible to claim the benefit. 

PIP has two components, namely the Mobility Activities component and the Disability Living Activities component.

Depending upon the severity and the specific nature of difficulties of the particular illness or condition, payments under one or both of the components will be provided. 

In case the mobility activity component accounts for grievous inability and thus offers the highest slab of compensation, the individual may also become eligible for the Motability Scheme. 

What is the Motability Scheme ? 

It is an exchange scheme whereby the mobility activity allowance/benefit under the PIP can be exchanged in order to lease the following : 

  • A new car that is affordable, so that individuals with disabilities/health problems and their families need not rely on public transport or the assistance of others. 

It allows for easier and more accessible personal transportation which is essential for individuals who need regular hospital visits, amongst other needs. 

It also allows disabled individuals to move about in accordance with their requirements and at their leisure, without the added strain of waiting for public transport that takes time and is very often not disabled-friendly. 

  • A specially fitted vehicle for the disabled or those with special physical needs e.g. a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.
  • Powered scooters or wheelchairs that allow for mobility with the least difficulty. 

For more information , please visit the following site – Motability Scheme – The Car and Scooter Scheme for disabled people

Attendance Allowance (AA) 

This benefit is accorded to people who have attained or have exceeded the State Pension age and it caters to their care requirements that result from their lung condition. 

It is a non-means-tested and non-contributory benefit , which means the claimant’s income/savings or their partner’s income is not taken into consideration. 

The amount of benefits one can claim depends solely on the extent of care needed by the claimant and is divided into a high and low slab/rate on this basis. The claimant must have required care for 6 months prior to when the benefit claim was made. 

Unfortunately, the AA does not provide for a mobility component, despite the awareness of mobility issues outside the house. Hence, it may need to be supplemented by other benefits such as the Blue Badge benefit, which will be discussed below. 

The Blue Badge Benefit 

The Blue Badge scheme is available for disabled people or people with illnesses that affect their mobility. Eligibility for a Blue Badge is automatic if you claim certain benefits such as DLA, PIP, War Pensioners Mobility Supplement etc. 

The Blue Badge allows its beneficiaries to park closer to their destination than is permitted for other citizens, keeping in mind the mobility difficulties. This can greatly ease a lot of their difficulty when accessing public places. 

The beneficiaries would be facing a lot of difficulties in walking – they may walk very slowly, experience pain while walking or moving, have mental confusion about the area etc. 

In the case of PIP, there are additional conditions, which if met, automatically qualifies the claimant to a Blue Badge. 

For more information on the requirements to get a Blue Badge and related benefits, please refer to – Applying for a Blue Badge – Citizens Advice

Even without automatic eligibility, if you have health problems like COPD which restrict your mobility or cause problems in walking/movement you are entitled to the benefit.

If the doctor attests that the problem could persist for a year at the least,  you can still claim a Blue Badge. 

The same applies for parents who have disabled children below the age of 3 who have mobility issues and thus requires a vehicle to be located in proximity. 

Special Concession for the Terminally Ill 

The Department for Work and Pension (DWP), will expedite the receipt of both the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the Attendance Allowance (AA), for those claimants who are terminally ill and only have six months or less left to live. 

For more information on how to fast-track applications in such circumstances please refer to : Get benefits if you’re terminally ill – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Additional Benefits offered for claimants with COPD 

In addition, to the above mentioned benefits, a claimant may also be entitled to the following benefits in specific circumstances : 

  • If a person with COPD is currently employed but is unable to work, they can avail Statutory Sick Pay from their employer/organization.

For more information on the specific conditions and amount please refer to – Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

  • If your struggle with COPD does not permit you to be employed or to perform work, you are entitled to claim the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). 

This benefit will help you with living costs in case you are not able to work at all or it can also tide you over until you are able to work again. 

  • Caregivers of people suffering from COPD, be they middle-aged or elderly people, may also claim Carer’s Allowance. 

The receipt of Carer’s Allowance also makes you eligible for other benefits such as the National Insurance Credits. 

Apart from these, specific living circumstances such as low income, presence of children, unemployment of members of the family etc. can also render you eligible to claim other benefits e.g. Housing , Income Support, Universal Credit etc. 

This blog has defined what COPD is , and made the distinction between its status as an impairment vis-a-vis other disabilities. It has explained all the different benefits and their components that are available for a person with COPD to claim. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Can you claim benefits with COPD ? 

Does COPD count as a disability in the U.K. while claiming benefits ?

No, COPD does not come under the definition of disabilities per se, under the Equality Act, 2010. 

However, it does qualify as an ‘impairment’ which prevents you from functioning normally on a day-to-day basis, obstructs your mobility or hinders your capacity to work.  

COPD thus comes under the classification of ‘impairment’ which could be due to long-term or chronic health conditions, sytress, mental health problems etc. 

As a consequence, you are still eligible to claim the benefits mentioned in this blog, although not under the purview of the disability provisions. 

You can still claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP),  Attendance Allowance (AA)  and Blue Badge, along with Employment and Support Allowance, Carer’s allowance, etc. amongst a few others.  

It is to be noted that the Blue Badge , is in fact, for disabled requirements. But it is granted for impairments like COPD as well. 

For further information on the nuances of the difference between disabilities and impairments, please refer to – What counts as disability – Citizens Advice

What facets of COPD will make me eligible to claim PIP/AA ? 

It is essential when you apply for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or the Attendance Allowance (AA) benefits, that you clearly state the exact difficulties that require extra care or hinder mobility or work capacity. 

The precise description of your difficulties in the application form will determine to a large extent the amount of benefits you are eligible for. 

These could include difficulties in :

  • Problems with dressing, bathing, hygiene etc. 
  • Incontinence, difficulties using the bathroom
  • Inability to walk around by yourself; requiring assistance to move from one place to another  
  • Inability to take care of one’s needs e.g. cooking or even eating on your own 
  • Difficulties with comprehension, communication, or deterioration in mental faculties etc. 

For more information on what impacts of COPD can render you eligible for benefits please visit- Check if you’re eligible for PIP – Citizens Advice

What are the requirements to claim a Blue Badge ? 

If you qualify for a higher slab/rate of the mobility component of the PIP benefit, then that automatically entitles you to claim a Blue Badge. 

If you are awarded the mobility component under the War Pensioners scheme, then this is also a way to get the Blue Badge. 

However, if you don’t meet either of these requirements you can still apply for a Blue Badge. For example the AA benefit has no mobility component, hence you may need to apply for a Blue Badge to address your mobility difficulties to some extent. 

If you are able to walk for only 50 meters or less , you are entitled to a Blue Badge. For more information on the eligibility standards for a Blue Badge please read – Frequently asked questions | My Lungs My Life

How does having a Blue Badge help a person with COPD  ? 

Considering the moderate to severe mobility issues that people with COPD face and their difficulty moving around from one place to the other, they need to be provided with as much support as possible when they leave their homes. 

This benefit is not merely a monetary concession. It is also a concession of time. 

Considering that people with COPD have difficulty moving about and may require much more time to complete their tasks in public places, the Blue Badge allows them free parking in public areas with parking meters or pay-and-display machines. 

The parking concession is for as long as they require, to ensure that their restricted mobility does not hamper the completion of necessary tasks or impose any monetary or time burdens on them.  

For more information on the Blue Badge scheme and how it helps people suffering from COPD please refer to – Using your Blue Badge – Citizens Advice

Will I have to undergo a Blue Badge assessment when claiming for COPD ?  

Yes, for all claimants of  Blue Badge a designated health professional will assess your mobility requirements based on your condition by conducting a series of mobility exercises. 

The health professional’s assessment will be passed on to the local council and will inform the council’s decision in granting a Blue Badge. This is applicable for all relevant illnesses/disorders, including COPD.  

For further details on the applicability and the procedures to claim the Blue Badge scheme for beneficiaries with COPD, please refer to – Tips and Advice for Applying for a Blue Badge | Fish Insurance

References 

  1. What you might be eligible to claim. (2015, December 16). British Lung Foundation. https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/welfare-benefits/what-am-i-entitled-to#:~:text=Having%20a%20lung%20condition%20doesn
  2. NHS. (2019, September 20). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/
  3. Benefits if you have care or mobility needs. (2015, December 16). British Lung Foundation. https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/welfare-benefits/care-and-mobility
  4. Motability Scheme – The Car and Scooter Scheme for disabled people. (n.d.). Www.motability.co.uk. https://www.motability.co.uk/
  5. Applying for a Blue Badge. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/help-for-disabled-travellers1/blue-badge-scheme/applying-for-a-blue-badge/
  6. Get benefits if you’re terminally ill. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/terminal-illness-benefits
  7. Government Digital Service. (2011, September 9). Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay
  8. Government Digital Service. (2012, January 19). Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance
  9. NHS Choices. (2020). Living with – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/living-with/
  10. Citizens Advice. (2019). What counts as disability. Citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/protected-characteristics/what-counts-as-disability/
  11. Check if you’re eligible for PIP. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/before-claiming/check-you-are-eligible/
  12. Frequently asked questions | My Lungs My Life. (n.d.). Mylungsmylife.org. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://mylungsmylife.org/topics/group-1/copd-faq/frequently-asked-questions/
  13. Using your Blue Badge. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/help-for-disabled-travellers1/blue-badge-scheme/using-your-blue-badge/
  14. Andy. (2020, February 3). Tips and advice for applying for a blue badge. Fish Insurance. https://www.fishinsurance.co.uk/tips-and-advice-for-applying-for-a-blue-badge/

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.