Welfare benefits when living with a lung condition

Care and mobility benefits

If you have difficulties with daily living needs, getting around or need a carer’s help, you could be entitled to either Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Attendance Allowance (AA).

Both PIP and AA are financial benefits that might make life a little easier for you if you are living with a long-term condition or disability. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is paid to eligible people who have a long-term health condition or disability and are aged between 16 and pension age. The age limit does change with state pension age.

You may be entitled to benefits if you:

  • have care or mobility needs because of your lung condition
  • cannot work due to your lung condition
  • are thinking of giving up work because of your lung condition
  • care for someone with a lung condition

Having a lung condition doesn’t entitle you to welfare benefits. Benefits depend on how your lung condition affects your care or mobility needs, or your ability to work.

If you’re unsure what you’re entitled to and want to talk to someone, please call our helpline on 03000 030 555.

On this page:

Use an independent benefits calculator to find out what benefits you could get, how to claim and how your benefits will be affected if you start work.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

PIP is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The process for reassessing current DLA claimants began in October 2013. If you were 65 before 8 April 2013, your DLA claim can continue, and you should not be reassessed for PIP.

PIP is non-means-tested and non-contributory, and can be paid whether you are working or not. To qualify for PIP, you must have had the difficulties or needs for three months before you can claim and must be likely to continue to have them for the next nine months.

PIP has two components - called Daily Living Activities and Mobility Activities. If you’re eligible you can be paid for each component or both.

For each component, there are two rates, standard and enhanced, and you will be assessed on a points system to decide which rate you qualify for. To qualify for the standard rate you need eight points, and for the enhanced rate you need twelve points.

If you’re awarded the high rate mobility component, you may get access to the Motability scheme. Find out more on the Motability website.

Tips for applying

The PIP form and assessment is a chance to explain how your lung condition affects you from day to day.

Try to explain the kind of things you find difficult, or can’t do at all, and those you need help with – either from a person or from aids, or by changing how you do it.

For example, if you live with a lung condition that makes you short of breath like COPD, you may face these day-to-day issues. Make sure you include them:

Bathing and dressing: you may need someone - or a special aid like a rail or a chair - to help you bathe or shower, and get dry and dressed. You may need to wrap yourself in a towel or dressing gown until you are dry, as drying yourself immediately makes you breathless. Bending over to dry your feet, cut your toenails and put on shoes and socks may leave you out of breath.

Preparing food and cooking: you may need help from someone, or to use a chair when you prepare simple meals.

Eating: you may need to eat smaller amounts more regularly, rather than three meals a day due to difficulty chewing and breathing, getting out of breath while eating, feeling bloated and loss of appetite.

Getting up and down stairs: you may need to stop (several times) to get your breath. You may plan to avoid stairs as much as you can because climbing them makes you breathless and anxious. Mention if your only loo is upstairs and you cannot get there easily or quickly.

Planning a journey: you may have to avoid steps and hills, and take frequent rests to catch your breath. If you use public transport, you may avoid busy times of day as you take a long time to get on or off a bus or train. You may try to avoid crowds as it’s harder to walk slowly. You may use a stick or a walking frame to get about.

These points may just be the tip of the iceberg for you. There may be other areas of care or mobility that you find difficult. Give us a call on 03000 030 555 if you'd like more advice.

Applying for AA and PIP

Application forms are long and you may find them hard to complete. We suggest you check the guidance notes on this page about how to complete the forms before you start to apply. It’s important to prepare.

These notes are also a good starting point:

Give us a call on 03000 030 555 if you’d like more advice. Our friendly helpline team is available Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

Blue badge scheme

A blue badge helps you park closer to your destination. If you get certain benefits, you’re automatically eligible and applying is straightforward. The standard, and enhanced, rate of PIP mobility, or the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA would qualify you for a blue badge. Find out more about the blue badge scheme on the citizens advice website.

You can also apply if you have long-term problems with walking or problems with walking that your doctor says will last at least a year. You’ll have to fill in an extra section of the form and may need an assessment by your local council.

If you have queries, call the blue badge helpline on 0343 100 1000 (England), 0343 100 1001 (Scotland), or 0343 100 1002 (Wales).

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children

This is only available if you’re claiming for a child under 16 and satisfy the care or mobility criteria. You’ll need to show your child has significantly more care needs than a child of the same age without any health problems. DLA has two components: a care element and a mobility element. To qualify for the mobility component your child must be three or older.

Attendance Allowance (AA)

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a non-means-tested and non-contributory benefit paid to people of state pension age and over who have personal care needs because of their lung condition. The age limit does change with state pension age.

AA is paid at one of two rates, higher or lower depending on the level of need you have. You must have had care needs for at least six months. There is no mobility payment with AA and any mobility difficulties outside the home are not taken into account.

Tips for applying

On the form, explain the effects of your lung condition, compared to someone of your age who is healthy (such as your partner or a friend). You will need to describe the difficulties you have, how often you have them – day and night - and the sort of help you need.

For example:

  • do you struggle to get out of bed? To get dressed? To wash yourself? To get out of a chair?
  • do you need someone to motivate you to get dressed? To eat?
  • do you need help to do your hobbies or get out and meet people, such as going along to your local Breathe Easy group or pulmonary rehabilitation class?

Remember: you can get help to fill the form out from your nearest Citizens Advice.

Our friendly helpline team are dedicated to answering your questions. Give them a call on 03000 030 555.

Special rules for terminally ill people

If a person is terminally ill and expected to live for six months or less, they can get Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment immediately. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will fast-track the application.

Discuss with your GP or consultant and ask them to complete a medical form called DS1500. The person claiming, or their doctor, should send the DS1500 form to DWP with the claim form for AA. PIP is claimed by phone.

A carer, family member, friend or professional can claim on another person’s behalf. The person who is terminally ill doesn't have to sign the claim form. They will simply be notified that they have been awarded the benefit and they will be paid.

Disability benefits in Scotland

From 2020, disability benefits in Scotland will be changing. The Scottish government will take over responsibility for DLA for children, PIP and Attendance Allowance.

People who are already receiving these benefits will carry on getting them, but new claims will be claims for the Scottish equivalent of these benefits.

The Scottish government plans to make some changes to how decisions are made on these benefits. They want to reduce the number of assessments and make decisions on medical evidence where they can.

Read more about the change to the delivery of disability assistance in Scotland on the gov.scot website.

Do you live in Northern Ireland?

If you live in Northern Ireland, take a look at the NI Direct page and the AdviceNI pages. You can also call the Benefit Enquiry Line 0800 232 1271 Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm or email [email protected]

Are you unsure if you are entitle to benefits, or looking for information on different benefits? Read more here >

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Download our welfare information (PDF, 270KB)

Last medically reviewed: December 2019. Due for review: December 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.