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Impact of increased cost of living on people with disabilities

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We are all facing increased living costs, with inflation rising to a record high and likely to increase as well as the anticipated hikes in energy bills. Measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer may go some way to alleviate the pain, but the impact of the increased cost of living on people with disabilities is magnified.

The need for heating, personal modified or adapted transport as well as specialised equipment in the home may mean increased energy usage which cannot be avoided. This is especially the case for people living with serious brain or spinal injuries, whose need for a variety of support and specialised equipment is long term.

Shoosmiths Legal Director Sarah Harper maintains that’s why it is so important that disabled people check whether they are receiving all the state benefits to which they are entitled. These benefits can help those people with disabilities to live safely, comfortably and as independently as possible. Sarah says:

“Checking whether you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to may involve some time and effort, although charities can help tremendously in this, but is definitely worthwhile, especially in these straightened times. Even if you feel you can manage without certain benefits, if you qualify, you have a right to claim them.”

Charities with which Shoosmiths works closely, such as Headway, the Spinal Injuries Association and BackUp can provide invaluable advice about the practical and financial help that is available for all those who have suffered serious, life changing, injury.  When that injury or disability has been the result of negligence which has led to a successful compensation claim, it’s also why Shoosmiths recommends protecting any compensation that may be awarded by creating a Personal Injury Trust

This is a perfectly legal mechanism, acceptable to both the Department for Work and Pensions and Local Authorities and means whatever compensation you may have been awarded does not affect your ongoing entitlement to means-tested state and local authority benefits. 

Obviously, when assessing the value of compensation claims, Shoosmiths expert serious injury lawyers will take into account increased costs faced by their clients. In complex claims, such as brain or spinal cord injury, where finance is required to cover care costs and other expenses for the rest of an injured person’s life, the preference may also be for any compensation to be in the form of periodical payments rather than a lump sum. 

Periodical payments are not taxable, whereas an invested lump sum would be, but the main benefit of periodical payments is that the injured person and their family do not have the worry of investing and managing a lump sum to make sure it lasts. There is therefore no need to fear that the money might run out and the injured person has a predictable and regular ‘income’, which will usually increase in line with inflation and as care needs expand, upon which they can rely.

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Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022

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