“Supporting you in all welfare rights issues, accessing benefits, maximising income and challenging social entitlement decisions”

Welfare benefits advice

Epilepsy Scotland’s Welfare Rights service provides holistic advice on welfare benefits for people with epilepsy and associated conditions. We provide information on the types of benefits available, potential entitlement, eligibility, and the legal tests. We can advise on how and where to apply for benefits, the types of benefit applicable to you, what additional help that qualifying benefits such as Personal Independence Payment provide, the information and evidence that the DWP require to prove your entitlement, and ways to go about getting that evidence. The law on social entitlement can change daily. We can explain these changes and what that means for you.

Having to apply for welfare benefits can be a stressful process for anyone, but if you have epilepsy, you may face further barriers and challenges.

For that reason, we would always advise anyone with epilepsy to seek professional advice before applying for any type of benefits or undertaking a review of their current award to increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Our Welfare Rights Officers can provide information, support, and assistance on benefits issues such as helping to identify benefits you may be entitled to, completing application/review forms with you, and assisting with appeals, including representation depending on area of residence.

We aim to cover as much of Scotland as we can, but may be limited by practical and resource considerations, as this service is based in our Glasgow office.  We may also be able to provide general information on benefits and assistance by telephone.

Due to COVID restrictions we have adapted our Welfare Rights service to provide our services by telephone and digitally to ensure that people are able to access as much support as possible.

This service is in high demand, and there may be a waiting list. For enquiries and available appointments, please phone 0141 427 4911.

What you will need

Benefit checks / Income maximisation

Epilepsy Scotland Welfare Rights service offers all clients a benefit check and can complete a benefit calculation based on your household circumstances so that you do not miss out on any financial help you can get through the benefit system. Each benefit has rules about who can claim. Some benefits are paid to you for particular reasons. For example, you may be able to claim disability or carer benefit if you or your child have a health problem that makes it difficult to look after yourself or move around.

It is best to have all your details to hand before calling the Welfare Rights service for advice on income maximisation so that we can give you accurate up to date advice. Try to have available:

  • details of your income, for example recent payslips
  • details of your partner’s income, if you have one
  • details of any savings or investments
  • details of any current benefit payments
  • details of expenses such as rent, mortgage payments and council tax
  • your National Insurance number

If you or a family member has ill health it would be helpful to have:

  • details of any conditions diagnosed or undiagnosed
  • details of any medications you are taking or treatment
  • contact details for your GP, your epilepsy support team and any other health or social care professionals you see.

Importance of and accessing medical evidence

Medical evidence can assist the Department for Work and Pensions decision makers and HM Courts & Tribunals appeal panel members to reach a positive decision. We would recommend obtaining evidence at the earliest possible stage of the claims/review process. We will explain what evidence may be helpful, how to obtain this and assist if required.

How we can help

Benefit application forms and questionnaires

Benefit application forms and questionnaires can be complicated and the application and review process difficult to navigate. Our Welfare Rights Officers will use their knowledge and experience to support you by explaining the criteria and discussing eligibility for the various individual benefits including ill health and disability. We can assist you to complete the application forms, reducing stress and maximising the opportunity of a successful outcome.

Benefit medical consultation (assessment) advice

Medical consultations (assessments) are usually conducted by an approved health care professional to assess eligibility for ill health and disability benefits. This can be done by telephone, video call or face to face at an assessment centre. Our Welfare Rights Officers can use their knowledge and experience of this process to guide and support you through your consultation/assessment.

Challenging decisions

If you disagree with a decision, you have the right to challenge the decision. Please note that time limits vary depending on the benefit. We recommend seeking assistance from our Welfare Rights service without delay if you need to:

  • check that you have grounds to challenge or appeal the decision
  • require advice on any medical evidence in support of your challenge
  • help to complete and submit your request if applicable
  • help to ensure your request is submitted within the required time limit

Tribunal Representation

If you are unsuccessful at the appeal hearing you may have a right to appeal to the Upper Tribunal if a possible error of law has been identified. If your representative has established that there may be an error of law your Welfare Rights Officer will discuss this fully with you.

We can:

  • check that you have grounds of appeal to challenge the decision
  • advise of any Legal help you may be entitled to obtain medical evidence that could support your appeal
  • ensure your appeal form is completed and submitted within the required time limit
  • research the law and prepare your case
  • prepare a written submission for the Tribunal hearing
  • represent you at your allocated appeal hearing

If you are unsuccessful at the appeal hearing you may have a right to appeal to the Upper Tribunal if a possible error in law has been identified. If your representative has established that there may be an error of law your Welfare Rights Officer will discuss this with you fully.

Unfortunately, we can only offer tribunal representation to clients in the central belt of Scotland at the moment.

Emergency financial assistance, crisis grants and food bank applications

Should your circumstances lead you to require emergency financial aid we can advise you on emergency Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF), eligibility, how and where to apply for emergency financial assistance. If you have already had your full allocation of Crisis Grants, we can signpost you to food bank providers in your area so that you can get food bank vouchers. At this point, we will also offer a full benefit check to ensure that you are getting access to your full entitlement of benefits available.

Scottish Social Security System benefits

Delivery of disability benefits are in the process of being transferred to The Scottish Government from the UK Government. Our service can advise on what this means for you and support you to navigate through this transfer to the new Scottish welfare benefit system. We can provide advice on eligibility and support you through the application process for all new Scottish Benefits. We recommend that potential claimants and existing claimants seek professional assistance when dealing with benefits at all stages of the claims process.

We advise that you seek professional advice before appealing a decision as your current award could be reduced, increased, or remain the same.

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