Hundreds of teens in West Lothian and Falkirk stripped of disability benefits after 16th birthday

Around 400 children in the Falkirk Council area and nearly 200 children in West Lothian were stripped of disability benefits after their 16th birthday, figures show.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 6:00 am
A view of signage for the Department of Work & Pensions in Westminster, London.

Hundreds of young people in those areas who claimed Disability Living Allowance in childhood failed to qualify for the adult version of the benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

A spokesman for Disability Rights UK said a sudden loss of benefits could be traumatic for disabled young people and their families and said support needed in childhood did not disappear at 16.

Around 289 young claimants in the Falkirk Council area - 50 per cent- saw their benefit award rates increase or stay the same after moving to PIP but 209 had their awards withdrawn, according to data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Of the cases disallowed between October 2013 and October last year, 155 applicants were rejected after failing to score enough points - awarded to reflect their mobility and care needs - during the assessment part of the process.

There were also 16 youngsters who were refused due to failing to attend assessments and 38 who did not meet the basic eligibility criteria. Another 73 applicants were approved for PIP but had their award rate cut.

Around 380 young claimants in West Lothian - 58 per cent - saw their benefit award rates increase or stay the same after moving to PIP but 193 had their awards withdrawn. Between 2013 and 2020 140 applicants were rejected after failing to score enough points. There were also 15 youngsters who were refused due to failing to attend assessments and 38 who did not meet the basic criteria. Another 75 applicants were approved but had their award rate cut.

Where the number of outcomes is nil or very low, figures have been excluded so totals could be higher.

A spokesman for the DWP said over 60 per cent of child DLA claimants go on to receive PIP, with award rates staying the same or increasing for over half of all claimants. He said the Government was working hard to ensure disabled young adults received support.

Adding: “Many DLA claimants have not undergone any kind of assessment of their needs for several years and as a result their condition or their needs arising from their condition may have changed substantially.”

DLA and PIP are awarded to help individuals and families meet the extra costs associated with long term health conditions and disabilities, with claimants currently entitled to receive up to £152 a week tax free.

Ken Butler from Disability Rights UK said sudden withdrawal of benefit support at a young age could be traumatic and impact upon household finances, care payments, local authority support entitlement and the ability to remain in education.

He said: “If a young person is still meeting the conditions for DLA while a teenager, it is difficult to see why they would not continue to have the same level of needs at 16.

“The level of support and extra financial costs do not disappear overnight when a disabled young person becomes 16.”