In a ground breaking move, the Scottish Government is introducing a new devolved disability payment, the Pension Age Disability Payment, to replace the existing Attendance Allowance for nearly 130,000 seniors. The phased pilot initiative is set to kick off this Autumn, with a nationwide rollout expected in early 2025.
A distinctive feature of this novel benefit is its focus on providing financial aid to individuals of State Pension age grappling with disability-related challenges. Significantly, the Scottish Government has affirmed that the Pension Age Disability Payment will not encompass a mobility component. However, it is confirmed that the application procedure will not involve in-person assessments.
Commencing this Autumn, new claimants will begin receiving the Pension Age Disability Payment under the phased pilot launch. Around 129,641 individuals currently receiving £68.10 or £101.75 per week through the Attendance Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will seamlessly transition to the new system. The integration will occur gradually as these individuals become part of the Social Security Scotland IT system.
The primary objective of the Pension Age Disability Payment is to lend support to older individuals dealing with disabilities that necessitate assistance with self-care or supervision to ensure their safety. Social Security Scotland aims to assess eligibility based on the applicant’s account of their circumstances and existing supporting information, eliminating the need for in-person assessments.
Importantly, supporting information can be derived from various sources such as occupational therapy assessments, district nurse reports, or information from partners. Social Security Scotland has assured that it will take charge of gathering necessary information from suggested sources in cases where it is deemed necessary.
Eligibility for the Pension Age Disability Payment hinges on specific criteria, including being of State Pension age and over, having the condition for at least six months, and requiring additional care. The guidance from Gov.Scot indicates that eligibility rules for this new benefit are expected to closely align with those of Attendance Allowance.
The Scottish Government has clarified its intention to maintain the rate of Pension Age Disability Payment in sync with the current rate of the equivalent UK disability benefit. Furthermore, the rate is expected to undergo annual increments in line with inflation.
A significant migration process is in progress, with approximately 700,000 individuals, including those on Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and Carer’s Allowance, making the transition from DWP systems to the new Scottish welfare system by the end of 2025.
While Social Security Scotland has refrained from specifying a detailed timetable for the nationwide rollout, a pilot scheme is slated to commence in Autumn 2024, paving the way for a comprehensive rollout in early 2025. Existing claimants receiving Attendance Allowance will undergo systematic transfer to the devolved system following the introduction of the new benefit.
Applicants for the Pension Age Disability Payment are assured of a straightforward and inclusive application process, with a commitment to providing clear guidance on eligibility criteria. The application forms will be accessible in various formats and available through multiple channels, including online, phone, post, and in-person.
The payment rates for the Pension Age Disability Payment will mirror those of Attendance Allowance, with the lower rate set at £68.10 (rising to £72.65 in April) and the higher rate at £101.75 (rising to £108.55 in April).
In conclusion, the unveiling of the Pension Age Disability Payment marks a pivotal moment in enhancing support for elderly individuals contending with disabilities in Scotland. The emphasis on a streamlined application process and the exclusion of in-person assessments aim to make the system more accessible and user-friendly for those in need. As the phased pilot initiative takes flight this Autumn, it signals the commencement of a transformative shift in the landscape of disability assistance for the elderly in the country.