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Extension of terminal illness “Special Rules” for ESA and Universal Credit from April 2022

10 November 2021

The Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith, has confirmed new benefit rules relating to terminal illness and ESA and Universal Credit will be introduced in April 2022.

In response to the Scrap 6 Months campaign led by the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Marie Curie, the Government last year pledged to make it easier for people with a terminal illness to claim benefits using the “Special Rules for Terminal Illness”.

In July 2020, the then Minister Justin Tomlinson announced that the current “Special Rules” which fast-track benefit applications for those with a terminal diagnosis of six months were to be replaced with a new 12-month, end of life definition.

He said:

“Being diagnosed with a terminal illness is devastating and this change will increase much needed support for people who are nearing the end of their lives.

The new 12-month approach will ensure people get the financial help they need as quickly as possible in the most challenging of times. We have carefully considered the best approach and I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to our work in reaching this outcome.”

Speaking in Parliament on 8 November, Minister Chloe Smith said the Government of necessity having to take a two stage approach:

“That will allow us to introduce changes to universal credit and employment and support allowance via secondary legislation in April.

Parliament will need to pass primary legislation to amend the special rules in other benefits, which we will introduce as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows.”

The confirmation of the introduction of a 12 month end of life definition come a few days after the highlighting that 100 people denied fast-tracked disability benefits for terminal illness died challenging the decision.