Thousands of DLA claimants in Derry will have to be reviewed by a contracted “assessment provider” when the disability benefit is phased out from June 20, 2016.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit on that date and the move will affect tens of thousands of people across the wider North West.
According to the latest count, there are 15,890 claimants in the city. That’s 14.6 per cent of the eligible population.
Only in Omagh (15.1 per cent) and Strabane (15.8 per cent) is there a greater concentration of claimants.
Barbara Brady from the Social Security Agency (SSA) has explained how the switch to PIP is going to affect these people.
“It is planned that PIP will be introduced in Northern Ireland on June 20, 2016, and will replace DLA for working age claimants, aged 16 to 64, on that date,” she wrote, in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Whilst children and pensioners on DLA won’t be affected, every other claimant will.
“DLA will continue for children up to the age of 16 and for existing DLA claimants aged 65 and over on June 20, 2016, as long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria for DLA,” explained Ms Brady.
But for everyone else there are changes ahead.
“It will not be possible for working age claimants to remain on DLA.
“When PIP is introduced the following DLA claimants will start to commence their reassessment for PIP: existing DLA child claims who turn age 16 on or after June 20, 2016; existing DLA claimants who report a change in their care or mobility needs on or after June 20, 2016; and, those who have a fixed period award of DLA that is due to expire on or after November 8, 2016.
“All remaining DLA working age claimants will be randomly selected for reassessment and be invited to claim PIP between December 2016 and December 2018.
“The Department will write to claimants to let them know that their DLA is due to end and explain how they can make a claim to PIP and will fully support them throughout the reassessment process.”
Ms Brady says the contractor charged with carrying out the fresh assessments for the transferring claimants will be asked to carry out the vast majority of them within one month.
“The contract stipulates that the Assessment Provider is expected to clear 97 per cent of all PIP assessments referred to them within 30 working days.”