Benefits Concessions for the Blind and Visually Impaired

You may be entitled to some or all of the following benefits if you are visually impaired.

 

When someone is diagnosed with a visual impairment, it is a very daunting, and often life changing situation.  Performing everyday tasks that we once took for granted, suddenly become very difficult and frustrating.

In order to try and help with certain situations, there are, in the UK,  benefits that may be applicable to you. If you know of any that I have not mentioned here, please leave a comment below and I will add them to the list if appropriate.  It would also be good to hear from people who have claimed any or all of the benefits listed, and your experiences of applying for them, and the difference it has made to you.

√ Free Directory Enquiries Calls (The 195 Service) – Available to Blind and Partially Sighted

If you are unable to read or indeed hold a telephone directory because of your sight loss or  other disability, you can sign up for a free directory enquiries service. You do not have to be a BT customer to use this service.

Using the service is simple – when registered, you will receive a card for your personal use that contains a unique code. When you call 195 from your registered telephone number,  you quote the code to the operator, and there will be no charge for them obtaining a telephone number for you. You still have to pay for the call if the operator puts you through to the number, according to the call package you have with your telephone provider. So, it is best to use the service to get the telephone number you re looking for, and then dial it yourself.

To sign up to the service

simply call free on 0800 587 0195 and tell the operator that you wish to apply for the free 195 directory enquiry service. Alternatively, you can e-mail 195registration@bt.com .They will send you a form to complete, and this will need to be countersigned by your GP or other medical professional (but not a Social Worker.

√ CEA card – Available to Blind and Partially Sighted

The card is a national card scheme developed for UK cinemas by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). The benefits of having the card allows a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema. The reasoning behind this, is that the “guest” will assist you with anything, as the disabled person as and when required.

As a registered Blind or Visually Impaired Person, you need to upload or send a copy of your registration card or your CVI certificate.

For other disabilities, you need to be receiving of one of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)

When applying for a Card please send or upload a copy of the awarding letter from DWP or a statement confirming receipt of the allowance for the applicant dated within the last 12 months.

They DO NOT accept Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance or being a Blue Badge holder as sole proof of eligibility.

The CEA card will cost you £6.00 and is valid for one year.  It can then be renewed for another £6.00 each year.
Applying for the card is very easy, and can all be done online by uploading your photograph and any documentation, or you can do it by post if you prefer.

Apply for your card now by clicking on this link:

√ Travel Concessions/ Benefits on public transport

Contact your local authority or local transport providers for further details of travel concessions in your area.

  • You will be able to get a bus pass that gives you Free or Half Price concessionary travel throughout the country. There may also be community transport services such as Shopmobility and taxi discount schemes available in your area such as the Taxicard scheme in Greater London.
  • If you live in Scotland you can get a Scottish Blind Persons Travel Card that entitles you to free standard class travel on all rail, local bus, ferry and long distance services in Scotland, and on the Glasgow underground.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, you can get a Smart Pass that entitles you to free or half-price travel on nearly all scheduled bus and rail services.
  • If you live in London the Freedom Pass gives you free travel on almost all public transport in London.
  • Free or discounted travel on local ferry services is available in some parts of the UK.

In my case – I live in West Yorkshire (UK)

I have a Blind persons Metro Travel card that gives me FREE bus and Train Travel any time of day.  It also allows me to take a companion with me for assistance also FREE.

This card has p[roved extremely valuable and useful to me, as of course I can no longer drive.  I am fortunate that we have excellent bus and rail transportation.

If is easy to apply,. and this can be done via you’re local authority, or direct online. If you live in West Yorkshire (UK), here are some useful links explaining in detail what travel concessions you are applicable for.

 

√ Disabled Persons RailCard – Available to Blind and Partially Sighted

The Disabled Person’s Railcard gives at least one third off the price of certain rail tickets for the cardholder, and an accompanying adult where applicable, in England, Wales and Scotland.

Even if you do not have the Disabled Person’s Railcard, you can get discounted rail travel of 34 per cent or 50 per cent on certain tickets, or free travel for a companion when you travel on your season ticket. To qualify you must be travelling with another person and have a document confirming your registration both when you buy and when travelling on your ticket.

Not very well known additional benefits of this card is that it always has a selection of special discount 0ffers on the go, including hotel stays, dining discounts, Two for One Days Out etc.  To view the current discounts and offers simply click HERE.

Call 0845 605 0525 or visit the Disabled persons railcard website for further details.

I use the Disabled Persons railCard in Conjunction with my Metro card when I am travelling outside of the boundaries that my Metro card covers.  This gives me free travel to the boundary then at least a third off the remainder of the train travel.

√ 50 per cent reduction on your TV Licence fee if you are registered blind

If you are registered blind (severely sight impaired) then you are entitled to a “blind concession TV Licence” which gives you 50 per cent off the cost of your TV Licence.

Unfortunately you are not entitled to this if you are registered as partially sighted (sight impaired).

The blind concession TV Licence covers anyone who lives with you, as long as the licence is in your name. If your licence is in someone else’s name then you can change this and then claim the reduction.

How to apply for your blind concession TV Licence – Available ONLY if registered Blind (Severely Sight Impaired)

You’ll need to complete an application form and provide proof of your registration status to claim the blind concession TV Licence. You can fill in the application form online, print the form and then send it with proof of your registration status and payment to:

Blind Concession Group
TV Licensing
Darlington
DL98 1TL

To prove you are registered (certified) as severely sight impaired, you must send a copy of one of the following two documents:

  • the certificate from your eye specialist (ophthalmologist) that states that you are eligible to be certified as severely sight impaired. This is called a CVI (Certificate of Vision Impairment), or BP1 if you live in Scotland
  • a certificate or other document issued by, or on behalf of your local authority that shows you are registered as severely sight impaired with them.

TV Licensing only need to see a copy and there is always the risk that you could lose your original document in the post.

To find out how much your TV Licence could cost with the 50 per cent reduction visit tvlicensing.co.uk/info.

If you have any difficulties with your application or would like more information , you can call them on

03007906117 or by  visit tvlicensing.co.uk/blind.

√ The Blind Person’s Allowance Benefits – Available ONLY if registered Blind (Severely Sight Impaired)

The Blind Person’s Allowance is an extra amount of income that blind people can earn without having to pay tax on it. It is added to your tax-free personal allowance.

Blind Person’s Allowance is paid to people in England and Wales who are registered as blind/severely sight impaired (SSI) with a local authority.

It is paid to people in Scotland and Northern Ireland who:

  • have been certified as blind by an eye specialist,
  • or, have not been certified but are so blind that they cannot do any work for which eyesight is essential.

The allowance is the same for everyone who is entitled to it, regardless of age or income.

Blind Person’s Allowance example:

Blind Person’s Allowance for 2019/20 is £2,450
So if, for example, you’re 58, registered blind with your local authority and have:
an annual salary of £20,000
a Personal Allowance of £12,500
Blind Person’s Allowance of £2,450
you only need to pay tax on £5,050 (£20,000 less the sum of £12,500 and £2,450).

Spouse or civil partner’s unused allowance

  • If you have a spouse or civil partner who can claim the allowance but doesn’t use it in full (because their total taxable income is less than their total tax-free allowances) you can add any unused amount to your allowance. The calculator can not take into account any unused amount that you are allowed to add to your personal allowance.
  • If your tax bill isn’t high enough to use up all of your Blind Person’s Allowance you can use form 575 ‘Notice of transfer of surplus Income Tax allowances’ to transfer any unused allowance to your spouse or civil partner.
  • If you don’t pay tax and your spouse or civil partner does you can still transfer your unused allowance to them.
  • If you are able to claim Married Couple’s Allowance you must transfer any unused allowance when you are transferring your unused Blind Person’s Allowance.

If you are not already receiving your spouse or civil partner’s allowance you may need to ask your tax office to transfer it to you.

For more information on the Blind Person’s Allowance click on  HM Revenue and Customs’ Blind Person’s Allowance page.

√ Blue Badge – Disabled Parking Permit – Automatically Qualify if registered Blind

The Blue Badge scheme helps those people registered Severely Sight Impaired (Blind) or with severe mobility problems who have difficulty using public transport to park close to where they need to go. The pass is valid only when the registered person is travelling.  It cannot be used by anyone else travelling without the registered badge holder

You are automatically eligible to apply for a Blue Badge without further assessment if you:

  • are registered as blind (severely sight impaired)
  • get the higher rate mobility component of DLA (Disability Living Allowance)
  • get PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and scored 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ area of your assessment
  • get War Pensioners ‘Mobility Supplement’
  • received a lump sum payment as part of the Armed Forces Compensation scheme (tariffs 1 to 8), and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability

If you are partially sighted (sight impaired) and do not receive any of the above benefits, but have another long term medical condition affecting mobility, you may also be eligible for a blue badge. You will have to fill in an extra part of the application to show why you need one. This will then be assessed and you will be notified of the decision.

Your application will be sent to your local council – they’ll make a decision within 12 weeks.

If your application is refused

Your council should tell you why you’re not eligible for a Blue Badge.

You can ask them to reconsider your case if you do not think all the important information you provided was taken into account.

You can also reapply if your mobility problems become more serious.

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland details of what you will need to provide and an online application form can be found on the GOV.UK blue badge web page.

If you live in Northern Ireland you can apply via the nidirect website.

If you live in Scotland you can apply via the mygov.scot website.

If you do get your blue badge, it is important that you research where you can and cannot park.  Here is a very useful link WHERE CAN I PARK WITH A BLUE BADGE

Do I have to Pay for a Blue Badge?

There is a £10 charge for all new, lost, stolen, replacement and renewal badges.

Your local council will contact you to request a £10 online payment once they are ready to issue your Blue Badge. Alternatively you can send a cheque or pay over the telephone using an automated service.

Blue Badges are usually issued for three years, but yours may be issued for less than three years if your benefit award is for a limited time.

If you provide your email address and/or mobile number with your application, you will be sent either an automated email or text to remind you when it is time to re-apply for a new badge.

Here is a very useful link Highlighting YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AND RIGHTS AS A BLUE BADGE HOLDER  within England

Here is a useful link if using your Blue Badge WITHIN THE EU

√ Motability

The Motability Scheme provides an affordable, worry-free way for people with disabilities to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair in exchange for their mobility allowance. The Scheme is operated by Motability Operations Ltd, under contract to Motability, a registered Charity. Two people can be registered to drive your motability vehicle

If you’ve got sight loss you can still get a Motability vehicle and choose someone else to drive it. You can choose up to 2 people to drive on your behalf.

You can get a Motability car or vehicle if you’ve been awarded:

  • the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with at least 12 months award length remaining
  • the enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with at least 12 months award length remaining
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) with at least 12 months award length remaining
  • War Pensioners Mobility Supplement (WPMS) with at least 12 months award length remaining

As well as the car, you’ll get:

  • insurance, including tyre and windscreen replacement cover
  • breakdown cover
  • vehicle tax.

CLICK HERE to see a short accessible animation video and FULL information about the Notability Scheme

√ Reduction in Council Tax

There are currently (Within England) four different ways in which you could reduce your Council Tax bill.

Although the four ways are not specifically for blind and partially sighted people, one or all of them may apply to you.

Council Tax support

Your local authority will have its own Council Tax support scheme to help people on low incomes with their Council Tax bill. The qualifying rules and how much of a reduction you might be entitled to varies between authorities.
This is a means tested benefit , so, your household income and how many people you have living with you will affect how much support you get – if any.
To find out more and to make a claim for Council Tax support, contact your local authority.

If you are claiming any of the following benefits – you can also contact your local Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 to get help with claiming Council Tax support.

  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance.

If you claim Pension Credit, you can claim Council Tax support without completing any additional forms. Call The Pensions Service on 0800 99 1234.

Disability Reduction Scheme

Your local authority can reduce your Council Tax bill if you, or anyone else living in your home, is “substantially and permanently disabled” and needs adaptations or extra space in your home because of this.

To qualify for Disability Reduction Scheme, your home must contain one of the following:

  • a room other than a bathroom, kitchen or lavatory used predominantly to meet the needs of a disabled person
  • an additional kitchen or bathroom for the use of a disabled person
  • extra space inside your property so that a wheelchair can be used.

Your local authority must also be satisfied that the room or adaptation is essential or of major importance to your wellbeing because of the nature and extent of your disability.  A good example of this would be if a blind or partially sighted person needed an extra room to store bulky equipment such as a CCTV or  braille equipment. Or you may have had an extra bathroom put in because of mobility problems.

If you qualify for a disability reduction, your local authority will reduce your bill to the band below the valuation band of your home. If your home is valued at band A (which is the lowest band) you will be eligible for a reduction of a sixth off your bill.

Single person’s discount

If you live on your own, you should automatically receive a single person’s discount of 25 per cent off your Council Tax bill. You can also get a 25 per cent reduction if the person you live with is exempt from paying Council Tax. Exempted groups include:

  • people with severe mental impairments
  • some types of carers (but not if the carer cares for their partner)
  • anyone under 18
  • and full-time students.

Second Adult Rebate scheme

Your local authority could reduce your Council Tax bill by a quarter if you live with an adult who receives Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit.

You could also claim the Second Adult Rebate if you live with someone who is on a low income.

If you feel you may qualify for any of these Council Tax Reduction Schemes, give your local council a ring

 

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