Posted inUncategorized

Ninety disabled people in Torfaen had benefits stopped when in hospital

Ninety disabled people in Torfaen had their benefits stopped during extended hospital stays under a rule which charities say penalises the most vulnerable.

It comes after a court case was withdrawn which had been set to challenge the lawfulness of the so-called “hospitalisation rule” through an application for judicial review. Under this rule, a person’s entitlement to the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is suspended if they have received care in a hospital or a similar institution for 28 days or more.

Affected families said they were needed to help care for their disabled relatives in hospital which led to extra expenses during this time. The government says when somebody is in receipt of long-term NHS in-patient care, it does not pay benefits to stop the taxpayer from paying double.

Data for Torfaen

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit put in a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work & Pensions. They asked for the total number of people in Torfaen whose PIP payments were suspended due to spending 28 days or more in a hospital or similar institution for the quarter from 1 February to 30 April for each of the past three years – 2020, 2021 and 2022 – to compare the same point in time.

PIP suspensions in Torfaen in the quarter to the end of:

  • April 2022: 90
  • April 2021: 70
  • April 2020: 60

There were 7,753 PIP cases in Torfaen during the financial year ending in April 2022.

‘The so-called hospitalisation rule’

Critics say the so-called “hospitalisation rule” particularly affects people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) who are more likely to have lengthy hospital stays. They say that a disability does not stop when a person enters hospital, and the costs incurred by family members – often the known carers for the person claiming benefits – are often higher during this time.

Charities also said the way the rule was applied to people detained under the Mental Health Act meant they could not benefit from the independence to aid their treatment, to which they were entitled.

Learning disability charity Mencap’s head of policy, Dan Scorer, said people with PMLD were “more likely to fall foul of the 28-day rule”. The loss of financial support could have a detrimental impact on the ability of family members and carers to continue their support, he said.

Though the judicial review case had been withdrawn, Mr Scorer said Mencap would continue to work with affected people to “challenge its fairness”.

Campaigners seeking to overturn the “hospitalisation rule” also point to the case of Cameron Mathieson. Cameron was five years old when his Disability Living Allowance, the benefit Personal Independence Payment is replacing, was stopped after he spent more than 12 weeks in Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool.

Cameron Mathieson’s family fought and won a four-and-a-half-year legal battle which went to the Supreme Court. Judges agreed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had been “grossly unfair” when it stopped his payments.

Cameron, from Warrington, Cheshire, died in 2012 after he had cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, among other conditions.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that disabled people get all the support to which they are entitled. It is a long-standing rule that payment of extra costs benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment, is suspended after the first 28 days in a hospital or similar institution, to avoid double provision from public funds.

“While the number of hospitalisation suspensions has gone up so has the number of PIP awards; suspensions still form a very small proportion of the overall PIP caseload.”

🙏 Do you enjoy reading Cwmbran Life?

If you enjoy Cwmbran Life, please consider supporting the site so I can keep writing and sharing the stories you like to read. Every story, photo or video has taken time to produce and share with you. News isn’t free. There are several ways you can help me spend more time out and about in the community:
🤝 Become a Facebook Fan subscriber.
☕️ Buying Me a Coffee – Make a donation or become a subscriber.
💻 Businesses can advertise on site’s business directory or take out some sponsored social media posts. Email and we can chat.
💸 Send a donation via PayPal.

Posted inNews

Ninety disabled people in Torfaen had benefits stopped when in hospital

sign for department for work and pensions
Photo Credit: Local Democracy Service