Almost 300 Southampton teenagers lose out on disability advantages

Nearly 300 children in Southampton have had their disability benefits withdrawn after their 16th birthday, figures show.

Over a third of young people who applied for a Disability Allowance in their childhood were not eligible for the adult version of the benefit, the personal independence benefit.

Disability Charity Scope said the number of young people losing disability benefits by the age of 16 is unacceptable and the PIP assessment process is fundamentally flawed and needs revision.

Around 421 young applicants in the region – 52% – saw their performance awards increased or stayed the same after switching to PIP, but 297 had withdrawn their awards, according to the Department of Labor and Pensions.

Of the cases that were not admitted between October 2013 and October last year, 200 applicants were rejected after failing to score enough in the assessment part of the process to match their mobility and care needs.

There were also 28 teenagers who were rejected for not taking the exams for no reason and 69 who did not meet the basic admission criteria.

A further 83 applicants were admitted to PIP, but their award rate was reduced.

If the number of results is zero or very low, numbers have been excluded so the totals could be higher.

A spokesman for the Department of Labor and Pensions said over 60% of DLA applicants continue to receive PIP, with premium rates staying the same or increasing for more than half of all applicants.

He said the government is working hard to support disabled young adults, adding, “PIP is designed to assess how people are affected by their disability, not just the disability itself.

“Many DLA applicants have not had any needs assessment in a number of years and as a result, their condition or needs may have changed significantly because of their condition.”

DLA and PIP are awarded to help individuals and families meet the additional costs associated with long-term health conditions and disabilities. Applicants are currently eligible for up to £ 152 per week tax free.

Ken Butler of Disability Rights UK said sudden withdrawal of benefit support at a young age could be traumatic and affect household finances, care payments, eligibility for assistance from local authorities and the ability to stay in education.

He said, “If a young person qualifies for DLA as a teenager, it is difficult to see why they don’t have the same needs by the age of 16.

“The level of support and the additional financial costs don’t go away overnight when a disabled young person turns 16.”

Scope’s James Taylor said, “The government must ensure that young people with disabilities do not lose vital incomes to meet additional costs at such a crucial time in their lives.”

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