This blog looks at what Fibromyalgia is, what entails and the different benefits available to a person suffering from this condition.
It details the different benefit schemes and what they offer and clarifies some issues around the assistance ecosystem for fibromyalgia.
Can you claim benefits with Fibromyalgia ?
Yes. If you live with fibromyalgia and you face any number of its possible symptoms you are eligible to claim quite a few benefits.
These include, but are not limited to benefits extended for disabilities such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance etc.
What is Fibromyalgia ?
This condition is quite a complex one, with doctors still unable to understand with finality what could be causing it.
It is both a physiological and psychological disorder that throws up symptoms such muscle cramps and pains throughout the body, mood changes and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
It can also cause severe tiredness and loss of productivity due to inability to concentrate, recall/memory issues, cognitive difficulty and insomnia or poor quality of sleep.
It is a bone and muscle condition physiologically which is thought to exist because the brain and spinal cord are not able to accurately process pain signals being sent from the nerves all over the body.
Since there is no test as such to diagnose fibromyalgia itself, doctors will conclude its presence by ruling out conditions that cause similar symptoms such as arthritis, osteoporosis, lupus etc.
It can affect your quality of life, mobility, ability to work/study and your general well-being and to this extent therefore, is considered a disability which can have varying degrees of severity and difficulty.
What Benefits can be claimed with Fibromyalgia ?
The Department of Work and Pensions has recognised fibromyalgia as a condition that causes substantial disability.
The condition fits the U.K. government requirements of a disability in that it causes enough mental and/or physical difficulty that it can hinder your normal daily activities and/or it is chronic and long-term in nature , thus affecting the beneficiary for considerable periods of time and hampering their quality of life to a large extent.
As a consequence, a couple of benefits can be accessed by claimants with fibromyalgia. These include Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance (AA) and Employment Support and Allowance (ESA).
The eligibilities and entitlements will be discussed in detail below :
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
The Disability Living Allowance (DLA), is a benefit that is extended to people who have disabled children who need more care and supervision than other children of the same age.
The children must necessarily be under 16 years of age and must meet other eligibility requirements.
In addition to the care and age requirements, the child and the parent(s) must also be habitually resident in the United Kingdom and not be restricted by the regulations of immigration control.
In addition the child must also have suffered from the condition for at least 3 months before the claim and the condition is expected to persist for at least the next 6 months.
These requirements need not be met if the child is terminally ill and has only 6 months or less left to live.
The care requirements may pertain to mental, cognitive, physical, mobility or psychological distress/difficulty. The benefit allowance helps cover these additional costs that are due to the condition.
How much monetary support the claimant receives depends on the extent of difficulty and care requirements. The monetary support comprises two components- care and mobility. Each component has different rates.
The table below will illustrate the two components , their varied rates and the rationale that justifies these distinctions in each case as well.
The Care Component
|Care Component||Rationale/Requirements||Weekly Rate|
|Lowest||The child requires assistance for some portion of the day/couple of hours.|
|Middle||Regular supervision during all hours of day and night and assistance during hospital treatments.||£60.00|
|Highest||Constant supervision the entire day and night is required. Or this rate is warranted if the child is terminally ill.||£89.60|
The Mobility Component
|Mobility Component||Rationale/Requirements||Weekly Rate|
|Lower||This rate applies to children who do not have difficulties walking but may need assistance getting around and supervision when they walk outdoors.In addition, the child must be 5 years of age or above to be eligible for this benefit.||£23.70|
|Higher||Children who cannot walk on their own have immense mobility impairment that could be endangered or fatigued by walking or those whose vision is impaired or who are blind are eligible for this benefit. The child must be 3 years and above.||£62.55|
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the equivalent of the DLA, but for people who are 16 years of age and above but under the State Pension age.
The eligibility is the same as for the DLA in terms of the condition itself, but now that an adult is claiming the benefit, the condition should also be shown to hinder their daily activities and normal functioning, including mobility.
Even if the claimant is working or has savings, they are still eligible for the benefit. This holds when they are in receipt of other benefits as well.
Just as with the DLA, the PIP also has two components- the daily living component and the mobility component- which covers for difficulty in doing daily tasks and for difficulty walking around/getting to places respectively.
The amount of monetary support received will be dependent on different criteria within these broad components. This will be explained in detail in the table below.
|Lower Weekly Rate||Higher Weekly Rate|
|Daily Activities/Living Component||£60.00||£89.60|
The lower and higher rates for the Daily Living Component depend on the difficulty the claimant faces while doing few or multiple of the following activities and needs assistance as a consequence :
- Bathroom functions like bathing, dressing, using the toilet etc. are hard to do by oneself
- Inability to independently manage and track medicine intake
- Difficulty eating food or making food/ any dysphasia like choking or inability to swallow food and drink
- Cognitive issues in terms of reading, understanding, comprehending
- Trouble with interpersonal skills and or problems in interactions
- Inability or struggle with communication
- Distress/inability in making decisions e.g. decision about financial management
The rate differentials in the mobility component are a consequence of differences in ability to perform the following tasks and the level of assistance required :
- Difficulty/distress/inability to leave your home unaccompanied
- Inability or difficulty navigating routes and understanding directions
- Inability to move about whether indoors or outdoors without assistance
The problems with mobility need not necessarily be due to physical capacity or disability but due to mental confusion or anxiety as well.
If a person afflicted with fibromyalgia has reached or is above State Pension age, they can claim the Attendance Allowance benefit.
If the condition demands extra care and it hinders their functioning either mentally, physically, through sensory/bodily degeneration or cognitive decline, then they are eligible to claim the benefit.
They can also claim the benefit for fibromyalgia and other illnesses/conditions, if they feel that without extra care they could endanger themselves, or put others in harm’s way as well.
The beneficiary’s illness could have had to have been a medical issue for at least 6 months prior to the claim being made. The rates of benefit provided vary according to the level of distress and supervision or care requirements needed.
The table below will explain the relations therein.
|Rate Level||Weekly Amount||Reasons/Rationale|
|Lower Rate||£60||This rate applies if the claimant needs regular supervision during either the day or the night.|
|Higher Rate||£89.60||This rate is for beneficiaries who need round-the-clock attention and care throughout the day and the night.|
Employment Support and Allowance
The ESA is given to people who are under State Pension age but are unable to work to their capacity or unable to work at all given their health condition or their disability.
To claim this benefit, you need to have been working at some point prior to claiming the benefit, either as a self-employed individual or for another organization/persons i.e as an employee.
You also need to have a minimum of 2-3 years of adequate National Insurance Contributions/credits to access this benefit. You may be able to get Universal Credit along with this depending upon your circumstances.
It can be claimed while working as an employee or self-employed person or even if you are unemployed. The conditions for claiming credits while working are slightly different.
The amount that a person receives depends on their age and their ability to go back to work.
The benefit is extended to both tide over costs until a person who is able to work finds an appropriate job and as an income support to people who are completely unable to work because of their limitations.
The beneficiary must also not be in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay form their employer or must be in the last 3 months of its receipt if they are to be eligible for this benefit.
If the beneficiary is able to go back to work in a while, the money will tide over the period and they will receive £74.70/week. They form part of the work-related activity group.
On the other hand, the people who are unable to resume work form part of the support group and they will receive £114.10 per week.
If you wish to understand more about the intricacies of the ESA benefit including some details like the allowance given during the waiting period i.e assessment rate etc. you may refer to – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): What you’ll get – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
This blog has detailed the benefits that can be received by a person who has fibromyalgia. It examines what the disorder means and what its consequences are for the individual.
It has looked into the details of the benefits and the applicability for different types of distress. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, kindly contact us and leave a message. We welcome all inputs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)- Can you claim benefits with Fibromyalgia?
Do I get extra benefits with PIP ?
Yes. If you receive any rate of the mobility component, then you may be eligible to claim other benefits that make moving around and transportation easier for you.
These include the following :
- The Blue Badge – this scheme allows people with disabilities to park in closer proximity to public places or other destinations. For more details such as rules etc. kindly visit – Blue badge scheme | London Councils.
- Discounts on vehicle tax or complete tax exemptions can also be claimed
- Council tax discounts
- Discounts on bus fare
For the last two, the local council needs to be consulted to ensure that you do meet the eligibility criteria.
If you receive either the daily living component or the mobility component or some combination of the two, then you can also claim a Disabled Persons Railcard to subsidize your railway transportation costs.
If you are privy to the higher rate of the mobility component then you could also be eligible for the Motability Scheme, in which the mobility rate is exchanged for a disabled friendly vehicle.
The beneficiary does not have to wait for public transport and can conduct their daily activities at their convenience.
For more information on the Motability Scheme, the vehicles available, the exchanges and fitting possible, you may refer to – Motability Scheme – The Car and Scooter Scheme for disabled people.
Can I receive disability premiums for fibromyalgia ?
Yes. If you already receive the PIP and other benefits such as ESA, JSA, Housing Benefits etc. you may be entitled to receive some extra money ( called a top-up) if you qualify for a disability premium.
Depending on which set of benefits you receive and what your circumstances are you could receive any or any combination of three possible premiums : The disability premium, the severe disability premium and the enhanced disability premium.
The receipt of ESA only allows you to claim an enhanced and severe disability premium. To understand the different rates available you may visit – Disability premiums: What you’ll get – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Of course the combination of welfare benefits (including Universal Credit) and disability premiums will be subject to a benefit cap i.e. the amount and range of benefits will be curbed in keeping with a welfare benchmark of maximum monetary support from the state.
Do I get extra benefits with Attendance Allowance ?
You do not receive extra welfare schemes/benefits by way of claiming Attendance Allowance. However, you can continue to claim other benefits such as tax credits, JSA, ESA, etc. along with it or claim it anew ( now as Universal Credit).
You will also receive extra top-ups i.e. additional monegart support on your other benefits when you claim Attendance Allowance.
For example, you will be able to claim additional Pension credit, Housing Benefit and Council tax Support if you claim Attendance Allowance.
You must speak to the local council that handles your benefits to see what additional monetary support can be added to existing benefits that you claim.
Can I claim general benefits like Universal Credit along with disability benefits ?
Yes. You can claim a number of general benefits related to Universal Credit, tax, employment, Housing benefit etc. along with your disability benefits.
But since each benefit may sometimes make concessions for disabilities or may have a premium for disabled claimants you will have to understand its components better.
Some benefits may be rejected because they overlap with the ones you may already be claiming.
For this reason you may have to clarify the details with your local government officers responsible for your welfare scheme management to clarify which are underlying benefits you can’t claim due to benefit overlap e.g. Carer’s allowance and contribution based ESA.
For a quick understanding you may want to look at – Overlapping Benefit Rule – Turn2us.
Is fibromyalgia even considered a disability ?
Indeed, it is. The fact that it is hard to diagnose and that there are no tests or scans to definitively diagnose Fibromyalgia had people skeptical for a while.
However, the U.K. Parliament and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has incontrovertibly stated that fibromyalgia is a ‘hidden disability’ that that many people and their carers suffer from and causes immense pain and difficulty and that benefits are to be extended to them as well.
- Is fibromyalgia considered a disability? (2021, July 19). Brian Barr. https://brianbarr.co.uk/blog/is-fibromyalgia-considered-a-disability/
- Fibromyalgia – Symptoms and Causes. (2017). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780
- Hecht, A. (2008, May 29). What Is Fibromyalgia? WebMD; WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/what-is-fibromyalgia
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children
- Government Digital Service. (2013, June 10). Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children/eligibility
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children/rates
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP). (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/pip/how-much-youll-get
- Attendance Allowance. (n.d.). GOV.UK. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance/eligibility
- Attendance Allowance. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance/what-youll-get
- Government Digital Service. (2012, January 19). Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/what-youll-get