If you care for someone with a disability or a medical condition, there may be extra costs involved in helping them manage this. These are called disability-related expenses. There are many examples of these and they could vary from special dietary requirements to certain types of medication not available through the NHS.

Having a financial assessment

When a local authority or trust (in Northern Ireland) carries out an assessment of someone’s care needs, they will also need to carry out a financial assessment to see if they can potentially contribute towards their care costs. The amount varies but usually, there is a flat rate that will be allocated by the council or trust to help cover extra disability-related expenses (for example £15-20 per week).

Why is it useful to know about disability-related expenses?

It’s important if someone is contributing a lot of money towards their care services provided by the council or trust. Many people don’t realise that they may be able to get a larger allowance for expenses that are linked to a disability or health condition.

It may be the case that the local authority’s or trust’s flat rate is not high enough to cover the disability-related expenses. These costs are not covered by the NHS or social services; they are paid for privately out of someone’s own finances.

Therefore, if you can demonstrate a higher level of disability-related expenses, it may bring down the amount that the council or trust charge for their care.

To qualify for DRE, the adult must be in receipt of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (care) or Attendance Allowance.

Why might I be entitled to this support?

The Care Act statutory guidance in England states that the local authority must leave you with enough money ‘to pay for necessary disability-related expenditure (DRE) to meet needs which are not being met by the local authority’.

For example, if you are receiving a certain benefit (like Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance), when carrying out a financial review, the local authority or trust should check whether adequate money is left over after your general needs are met to cover any other additional disability-related expenses (DRE) you have.

What examples of Disability-Related Expenses could be claimed?

  • Certain medication and health-related purchases (including creams, pressure relief pads, etc)
  • Incontinence pads/goods
  • Personal Protective Equipment costs
  • Chargeable aids and adaptations (which are not covered under a disabled facilities grant)
  • Equipment for monitoring and communication (incl smartphone/tablets)
  • Accessible vehicle costs
  • Healthcare (massage/physio/osteopath/acupuncture/chiropractor treatments, etc)
  • Gardening, cleaning, online shopping delivery fees – if you cannot go to the shops because of a disability
  • Taxis if public transport is inaccessible
  • Internet connectivity – if needed for wellbeing, monitoring or for disability aids to connect
  • Subscriptions such as personal alarm, app subscriptions
  • Laundry collection and delivery/service washes
  • Ready meals vs ingredients to cook with
  • Washed and chopped vegetables etc
  • Specially adapted clothing/ shoes
Hidden costs  
  • Laundry (extra washes due to incontinence or specialist washing powder)
  • Water if metered (for toilet use/personal care). This is if someone’s condition requires an above average water level in the home, ie, more washing due to incontinence, sweating etc
  • Heating – if someone’s condition requires an above average temperature maintained in the home for example

What can help with my claim?

Providing evidence is crucial. Your council or trust will request documents or receipts to prove your case for these extra costs being incurred. They may argue that a particular medical product or service is provided by the NHS for example. So you will need to put the case forward that the product you need is not available or a therapy session is only available for a limited amount of time, ideally with the backing of a doctor’s note for reference.

It is vital that your doctor or another health professional supports you with this because the local authority will most likely base their decision on this evidence. Doctors can charge for these letters but some may not – you can discuss this with your doctor if you have limited money and cannot pay.

When they request evidence, it’s important to note that there are many different forms of proof you could show including the following:

-medical letters
-bank transfers
-care assessments and support plans
-Occupational Therapist plans
-Amazon orders.

The information on Disability-Related Expenses is courtesy of Carers UK.  Carers UK is a leading charity making life better for carers.  You can get more information and join Carers UK here.