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Petition Fast track benefits as soon as someone is diagnosed as terminally ill

Being told you have a terminal illness is devastating news. Being told you're not eligible for fast track benefits because you're expected to live longer than the '12 months or less' timeframe feels inhumane. TERMINAL MEANS TERMINAL, even if you're likely to live longer than 12 months.

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Our Prime Minister stated in the Commons he would look after the most vulnerable in society but fast track is only offered to those that are expected to die within 12 months. I myself am terminally ill and have been through the cruel benefits assessment. I ASK YOU TO SIGN THE PETITION CALLING ON THE GOVERNMENT TO CHANGE WHAT WE BELIEVE IS AN INHUMANE RULING AS THIS AFFECTS MANY TERMINALLY ILL PEOPLE. The Government says it's compassionate but we believe the restrictions on dying people are the opposite of compassionate.

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Government responded

This response was given on 1 May 2024

The 12-month eligibility criteria improves access to benefits for those nearing the end of life and aligns with the NHS definition. All eligible benefit claims are paid as fast as possible.

The Government wants to do all it can to alleviate the pressures on those nearing the end of their lives, and on their families.

The main way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) does this is through the medium of special benefit rules, often referred to as ‘the Special Rules’. These enable people who are nearing the end of their lives to get faster, easier access to some benefits, without needing a medical assessment and usually at the highest rate of payment. For many years, the rules have applied to people who have 6 months or less to live, however following legislation passed by the Government, from 3rd April 2023 they apply to people who have 12 months or less to live.
The 12-month eligibility criteria broadens access to benefits and under the ‘Special Rules’, all eligible benefit claims are paid as fast as possible.

They mean that thousands more individuals in their final year of life can make claims under the Special Rules to Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance.

The Government’s decision to change eligibility to a 12-month, end of life approach, rather than a more open-ended approach, is a balanced decision which makes a positive change with justified reasoning.

The Government has no plans to extend the eligibility criteria for the Special Rules for End of Life beyond 12 months.

The Government has taken the 12-month approach to determining eligibility for the Special Rules for a number of reasons. Firstly, an extensive evaluation into how the benefit system supports people nearing the end of their life provided a clear indication that the old 6-month eligibility criteria should be extended to 12-months.

Secondly, the new criteria aligns with the definition of end of life used across the NHS. The NHS considers people to be approaching the end of their lives when they are unfortunately unlikely to live beyond 12 months. Clinicians are encouraged to identify patients who have reached this stage of their life and use a holistic approach to consider the support that their patient may require at this point. The alignment of the definition across welfare and health services allows clinicians to include conversations about financial support in wider conversations about what matters most to their patient, thus being more responsive to their needs.

Finally, the Government believes that rather than simplifying the process for clinicians and claimants alike, a more open-ended approach to the Special Rules is likely to increase the burden on clinicians and may also introduce the risk of inconsistent awards for claimants. The new 12-month end of life approach means that clinicians are supported with a straightforward and simple definition which ensures priority continues to be given to those who are most in need as they are approaching death.

The Government does recognise that there will be individuals who may not meet the 12-month Special Rules criteria, but who have severe, lifelong conditions that will not improve and require extra financial support to live independently. People with the most severe conditions and lifelong conditions who claim benefits have the Severe Conditions criteria applied to their claim, which stops unnecessary reassessments. A new approach is also being tested that would allow people to benefit from a simplified process which would not involve a medical assessment. We are still considering how this offer could work and interact with special rules claims.

Department for Work and Pensions

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