More choice for disability benefit applications

Wednesday 14th August 2019

Disabled people will have more choice in how they apply for benefits under a new system to be introduced in Scotland next year.

Under the current scheme, run by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), applications for Disability Assistance can only be made by post or telephone.

When the Scottish Government takes responsibility for the delivery of these benefits in 2020, people will also be able to apply online or face-to-face.

Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Sommerville said the move was part of building a social security system which was “inclusive and puts people at its heart”.

She said: “By giving people more choice and flexibility about how to apply for assistance we hope to encourage more people who are eligible for benefits to apply and get the money they are entitled to. 

“The online application option together with our commitment to an improved assessment service puts people’s wellbeing first and will greatly improve the experience of people in Scotland who need Disability Assistance.”

The Scottish Government will have responsibility for all devolved benefits, including their funding, from 1st April next year. Around half a million cases will transfer from DWP to Social Security Scotland in 2020.

New claims for Disability Assistance for Children and Young people will start in summer next year.

By the end of the year, it is planned new claims will open for Disability Allowance for Older People, the replacement for Attendance Allowance.

In early 2021, the replacement for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will be introduced, which will be known as Disability Assistance for Working Age People.

In research commissioned by the Scottish Government to help guide the new system, disabled people described DWP eligibility assessments under the old system as ‘degrading’, ‘humiliating’ and ‘stressful’

Ms Somerville said the new social security system for Scotland was “making real progress”.

She added: “By the end of this year Social Security Scotland will be delivering seven benefits, and these plans demonstrate the progress being made as we get ready to take responsibly for disability payments next year.”