Fast-tracked access to benefits extended to those likely to be in final year of life

Wed,6 April 2022
News Benefits

New special benefit rules have been introduced for people who are terminally ill that provide fast-track access to certain DWP benefits. 

From 4 April 2022, the Government is changing the ‘Special Rules’ process for Universal Credit (UC) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). These changes are happening in England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.

The changes will extend eligibility to this end of life support from six to 12 months.

The new ‘Special Rules’ allow people nearing the end of life to:

  • get faster, easier access to benefits
  • get higher payments for some benefits
  • avoid a medical assessment

Clinicians, such as a GP, hospital consultant, hospice doctor or registered nurse, can be asked to provide medical evidence (a SR1 form) for a benefit claim under the ‘Special Rules’ process.

Those who are eligible will not be subject to a face-to-face assessment, and in the majority of cases they will receive the highest rate of benefits.

The DWP said: “The intent of this change to the ‘Special Rules’ process is to align with the current NHS/GMC definition of ‘end of life’ which states that ‘patients are approaching the end of life when they are likely to die within the next 12 months’a.

“One of the aims of this alignment is to bring conversations about financial support into mind when taking a holistic approach to supporting patients with advanced progressive illness, poor prognoses or terminal conditions.”

Similar changes are planned for Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance when parliamentary time allows (as such a change will require new primary legislation).

Last year, the Government pledged to introduce the new rules in response to the Scrap 6 Months campaign led by the end of life charity Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA). and the

Marie Curie chief executive, Matthew Reed said: “We are delighted to see this important change come into force today for Universal Credit and ESA claimants, following years of campaigning.

“This will help ensure more dying people can concentrate on making the most of the limited time they have left, rather than worrying about their finances.

“Marie Curie look forward to continuing to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to communicate this important change and ensure everyone now eligible gets the support they need quickly and efficiently.”

CEO of the MNDA, Sally Light said: “I am pleased that as of today long fought-for changes to the Special Rules for Terminal Illness will come into effect for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

“We now hope that more people living with complex and unpredictable terminal illnesses like motor neurone disease will be able to access the support they need via those benefits swiftly and sensitively.”

For more information, including detailed guidance on how to make a Special Rules claim, see these briefings:

The new regulations, The Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (Terminal Illness) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, are also available from