This blog looks at the definition and implications of diabetes. It explores the various benefits available to diabetics from both structured government schemes and institutional or category wise grants. 

Can you claim benefits with diabetes ? 

Yes, there are a number of social welfare schemes and benefit programs that people with diabetes can claim for themselves or for their children/wards. 

In addition to these government-led schemes there are also institution-specific and category-specific benefits available e.g. work, education, medical etc. These obviously work within the ambit of government rules and guidelines. 

Under the Equality Act of 2010, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus are considered disabilities given that they will have long-term, detrimental and even fatal consequences for human health and well-being. 

What are the different kinds of Diabetes which entitle you to benefits ? 

As mentioned above, the two main types of diabetes mellitus are Type 1 and Type 2. Both make a person eligible for benefits. 

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a genetic disorder that is usually triggered and manifested during the early childhood years. In comparison, Type 2, while having genetic components, is largely a consequence of diet and lifestyle related problems. 

While the inclusion of Type 1 diabetes mellitus in the ambit of benefits is self-explanatory, considering that it is a genetic defect that greatly impacts quality of life, the reasons for inclusion of Type 2 is more complex.

Type 2 diabetes is largely a result of poor eating habits, bad lifestyle choices etc. Although it cannot be cured, it can be maintained at a non-threatening level through medication and insulin injection etc. 

The reason Type 2 qualifies for benefits is because the intake of medicines and insulin interrupts normal life, such as working hours, energy levels, fatigue etc. that all result from low blood sugar (which is known as a ‘hypo’  episode.

It generally impacts the way one works and lives negatively. 

The scheme considers what would happen if the person were to not take medication even while continuing lifestyle changes. Without medication and insulin, the person’s health would deteriorate drastically , perhaps even leading to death.

Considering this, it was established that even Type 2 diabetes mellitus imposes significant long-term disabilities on the patient and thus the person must be eligible to receive benefits, as the condition meets the definition for disabilities. 

What are the government benefits available for people with diabetes ? 

There are several structured benefit schemes open to people suffering from diabetes and their carers. They include the following : 

Disability Living Allowance ( DLA) 

This benefit is provided to children aged 16 and under who suffer from diabetes. The DLA is segregated into different amounts on the basis of care and mobility needs. The higher the needs the higher the grant. 

The table below illustrates the different combinations of conditions and benefit amounts: 

Care componentHow much (weekly)
Higher rate£89.60
Middle rate£60.00
Lower rate£23.70
Mobility componentHow much (weekly)
Lower£23.70
Higher£62.55

The categorization into higher , lower or middle rates depends on the extent of care the child requires. Higher care would mean supervision during all times of the day and night and also assistance with basic functions. 

Lower rates would imply that care is restricted to fewer hours during the day or the night but not both.

In terms of mobility, if the child cannot walk at all, has lost their limbs or vision, then higher rates apply, whereas if they only have trouble getting around in unfamiliar places or terrain or difficulty remembering routes then lower rates would be more ideal. 

For more information on these categorizations please refer to – Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults: DLA rates – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

This is the equivalent of the DLA, but for diabetic people aged between 16 and the State Pension age. 

The benefits received are along a similar line i.e. on the basis of care needs or daily living requirements and mobility issues. 

Attendance Allowance 

This benefit is provided to beneficiaries who are either mentally or physically disabled or who are 65 years or older i.e. State Pension age. The person will have to require someone to care for them due to their condition, which in this case is diabetes mellitus. 

This care could be warranted for completing basic daily tasks or even for safety purposes. As with the previous two benefits, the amount granted depends on the extent of care needed and the unique nature of your needs. 

The benefit is divided into higher and lower tiers.The higher tier applies to care needs throughout the day and night and the lower tier is provided for care needs which are required only during the day or night. 

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

The allowance is geared towards people who have disabilities, illnesses and chronic health conditions that impair their ability to work or render them unable to work completely. 

The assessment for its eligibility will depend on both a medical assessment and a questionnaire that proves that the intended claimant has a limited capacity to work in places that are deemed by the system to be “permitted work”. 

Pension Credit 

This is an additional benefit that is given to people who have attained State Pension age. It provides an extra source of income , especially for people who have disabilities, illnesses and other health conditions/disorders that limit their income and savings. 

It is useful to cover some or all of their extra care needs. 

Housing Benefit 

Money received under this benefit assists the claimant with their rent and other service charges. It can also help in repairs or renovations to the house to make it more accessible and friendly for disabled individuals. 

It is given to those with low levels of income and savings. There are different amounts given for people who stay in private residences versus those who live as social tenants. 

Medical Concessions 

Everybody who suffers from diabetes mellitus is entitled to receive free prescription medications and to access free check-ups such as eye check-ups for retinoplasty. With a medical exemption certificate you can receive free medicines and insulin. 

What Institutional and Category specific benefits  are available to people with diabetes ? 

National Health Service (NHS) Benefits for diabetics 

Diabetics are entitled to a range of free services through the NHS. These include free check-ups for blood pressure, glucose levels etc. But mainly the free services focus on three crucial tests i.e. the HbA1c blood test, cholesterol and kidney function tests. 

These tests are the crux of diabetes care and maintenance because they could have an impact on other organs in the body. They could affect the limbs, eye-sight and heart function. 

For more information on all the services you can access and the appointment procedure please consult- What care to expect during coronavirus | Diabetes UK

Benefits from Schools and Universities 

Schools and Universities are made responsible along with the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), to make special arrangements for children or university students suffering from diabetes to enable them to attempt examinations with the least distress. 

This includes providing extra time to have a snack to maintain blood sugar levels, setting apart time to check the glucose levels and administer insulin and also providing monitored rest periods when fatigue or other symptoms are triggered.  

This is just one part of the guidelines that schools must follow when they have diabetic students. Especially for children who are just starting school, or transitioning to different grades , certain considerations have to be adhered to. 

Some of these rules are as follows : 

  • Children must be given special medical attention, so that parents do not need to be called in every time a medicine or insulin needs to be administered
  • Children with diabetes must not be excluded from any extracurricular activities or trips such as sports or travel unless they have expressly requested exemption 
  • If they have ‘hypo’ i.e. hypoglycemic episodes, they must not be left alone, and the requisite medical care must be brought in. 
  • Teachers and staff must be trained and sensitized to the needs of diabetic children. 

But they must also never prevent a child from handling his/her own administration of insulin etc. or prevent them from eating when experiencing a ‘hypo’ episode. 

  • Any basic requirements such as minimum attendance should not be imposed on children with diabetes taking into consideration their health issues that often lead them to taking leave frequently.

For more information on how your child can receive the best care while at school please refer to- Diabetes in Schools | Diabetes UK

Workplace Benefits for people with diabetes 

The Equality Act of 2010 also lists diabetes as a disability which can hamper a person’s ability to work. 

In this context, it lays down some guidelines that workplaces have to follow to ensure that people with diabetes are able to work productively and safely without discrimination. 

The act, through the Equality and Human Rights Commission guidelines for employers and workers, ensures that employees with diabetes are given protection in terms of the treatment that they receive. 

It imposes the responsibility to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in this regard. This could mean providing breaks and permitting the employee to have meals or snacks at set times to ensure no dip in blood sugar levels. 

It could also mean ensuring their emotional well-being and not subjecting them to stress, which could aggravate the illness. The in-house occupational health team should ensure this.

Colleagues should also be aware of the condition and keep an eye out for any signs of distress. 

For those whose diabetes has affected their eyesight, special eye-equipment should be provided. In addition, they should be granted concessions in terms of leave to get their annual or regular check-ups done, which are essential to maintain their well-being. 

Essentially, employers should make sure that they provide all possible assistance to ensure that people with diabetes are considered on par with other employees or candidates and have an equal chance to receive job opportunities as anyone else. 

If the person does not want to reveal their diabetic status, then this should be respected. 

The claimant can get a letter from his/her/their General Practitioner (GP), stating that they have a condition or illness that has persisted for the past year and will continue to persist for at least 12 months. 

This could also just be a note to the effect that it is more beneficial for a person to have flexible hours or work from home because of the limitations imposed by their condition. 

But ideally, the specification of the condition will enable the employee to take make better use of the benefits and the regulations to their advantage. For more information on the benefits available at work please refer to – Supporting someone with diabetes at work | Diabetes UK

This blog has looked at the nature of diabetes mellitus and the different benefits that are available to persons suffering from this illness. 

These benefits can be availed from both structured government programs or from government guided institutional or category based regulations, or both. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)- Can you claim benefits with diabetes? 

Is diabetes classified as a disability under the Equality Act, 2010 ? 

Yes, diabetes mellitus is classified as an ‘unseen disability’ under this act. This is not to instill a feeling of being disabled amongst those who have diabetes, who often don’t feel that they have a condition that can be referred to as a disability as such.

However, its inclusion in the act, allows for several benefits to accrue to people suffering from diabetes, which makes their life more equitable. 

It helps pay for extra expenses, it enables the provision of facilities that make mobility and access easier. It also reduces healthcare costs and enables the beneficiary to lead a healthier life. 

The benefits accruing from this act also ensure equal opportunity and no dscrimintaion at the workplace and more considerate provision during education. 

Can I receive free glasses if I am diabetic ? 

The government does cover the costs of prescriptions and medication if you are a diabetic who needs regular insulin and other medication. This can be accessed with a medical exemption certificate. 

You do not automatically qualify for free glasses/lenses unless you have an optical voucher and are between the ages of 16 and 19. 

You should also be enrolled in full-time education and require complex lenses. These claims should be made in a HC2 certificate. 

You can also get free glasses or contact lenses if you are receiving benefits such as income based ESA or Job-seeker’s Allowance or Income Support etc. For details refer to – Diabetes and Help with Health Costs (HC11 Form)

Can I continue to drive if I have diabetes ? 

There are complex conditions imposed on the right to drive when you have been diagnosed with diabetes. A consolidated idea will be presented here. For more information you can visit – Driving with Diabetes

There are a few possibilities that can be highlighted : 

  • If you maintain your diabetes with diet and lifestyle and no medication, then there is no need to inform the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) about the situation unless a potential complication may arise according to your doctor. 
  • If you use insulin, your driving license must be renewed every year to every 3 years depending upon the severity of your condition.  

However, if you are on temporary insulin that is administered for a period of 3 months then this condition does not apply. 

  • If you are at risk of having a hypoglycemic episode or have had one in the past 12 months then the DVLA needs to be informed. 

In addition, you must also refrain from driving if your blood sugar is lower than 4mmol/l and the levels need to be checked every 2 hours. 

  • The requirements vary for Group 1 drivers (using cars and motorbikes) and for Group 2 drivers ( driving buses and lorries). For further information refer to the link above. 
  • If you are at risk of developing complications such as heart , kidney or eyesight problems, then it is best if the doctor properly certifies you as fit to drive. 

If your eyesight tends to get impaired, then you will have to pass a visuals test requirement to be permitted to continue driving. 

Will I be able to receive a Carer’s Allowance if my child is diabetic ? 

In 2017, the Disability Living Allowance was extended to children under 16 who had diabetes Type 1. As a consequence, people aged above 16, who spent at least 35 hours a week caring for Type 1 diabetic children were extended the Carer’s allowance. 

To claim Carer’s Allowance, the child must receive DLA. If you are caring for someone older than 16, then the person must be receiving PIP. Then only can the care-giver claim the Carer’s Allowance. 

Type 2 diabetes does not seem to be included in the entitlement for Carer’s Allowance, perhaps because those with Type 2 diabetes, can administer medicines and insulin themselves and control their illness to a large extent through diet or lifestyle changes. 

In essence, perhaps they do not need as much assistance as Type 1 diabetics and that is perhaps why Carer’s Allowance has not been extended to the caregivers of Type 2 diabetics.

For more detailed information on eligibility please refer to – Disability Allowance for a children with Type 1 diabetes (childrenwithdiabetesuk.org)

Will Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes receive the same set of benefits ? 

Yes. Since both Type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus are categorized as disabilities (or unseen disabilities) under the Equality Act, 2010, people who suffer from either kind are eligible for the same set of benefits, except where specifically stated otherwise. 

For example, in the above case of Carer’s Allowance, the benefit is restricted to Type 1 diabetics due to differences in care needs and requirements. 

To understand the dynamics of the benefit packages better , kindly read – Is Diabetes a Disability? | ADA

References 

  1. Editor. (2019, January 15). There are a number of free welfare benefits that may be available to people with diabetes if complications lead to difficulty in daily life. Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-and-benefits.html
  2. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/dla-disability-living-allowance-benefit/DLA-rates
  3. Can I get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)? – Turn2us. (n.d.). Www.turn2us.org.uk. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Employment-and-Support-Allowance/Who-can-get-Employment-and-Support-Allowance#guide-content
  4. Your legal rights when you have diabetes. (2017). Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/life-with-diabetes/your-legal-rights
  5. What care to expect during coronavirus. (n.d.). Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/care-to-expect
  6. Exams and diabetes management at school. (n.d.). Diabetes UK. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/your-child-and-diabetes/schools/school-staff/exams
  7. Diabetes in Schools. (n.d.). Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/your-child-and-diabetes/schools
  8. Supporting someone with diabetes at work. (2019). Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/life-with-diabetes/employment/employers
  9. Work and diabetes. (2017). Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/life-with-diabetes/employment
  10. Editor. (2019, January 15). Some people worry about what bearing their diabetes will have on their employment. Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-and-jobs-faqs.html
  11. Editor. (2019, January 15). Having diabetes can make us more susceptible to certain health issues and so people with diabetes qualify for free sight tests and, if your diabetes is treated with medicatio, no prescription charges. Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/nhs/help-with-health-costs.html
  12. Is Diabetes a Disability? | ADA. (n.d.). Www.diabetes.org. https://www.diabetes.org/resources/know-your-rights/discrimination/is-diabetes-a-disability
  13. Disability Allowance for a children with Type 1 diabetes. (n.d.). Www.childrenwithdiabetesuk.org. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://www.childrenwithdiabetesuk.org/benefits-and-allowances/

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

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.