Disabled Students

We know that managing the demands of studying full or part-time can be particularly tricky if you also have a disability or long-term illness. Our advisers are on hand to support you in navigating any challenges you may face. Making sure that you are in receipt of the full range of financial support available can definitely help. We have provided some very general information on state benefits available to students with a disability or long-term illness below, but if you have any questions or would like more tailored advice, please get in touch with our service.



I am a part-time student with a disability or long-term health condition


If you are claiming benefits due to a disability or illness, and start studying part-time, your benefits can continue as usual as long as you continue to satisfy the rules for those benefits. If you expect to receive any scholarships, bursaries or other living costs funding for your course, your entitlement to certain means-tested benefits may be affected. Our advisers will be able to provide you with further information.



I have a long-term health condition which has a significant impact upon my ability to undertake everyday tasks

If you have a long-term disability that significantly affects your ability to undertake everyday tasks, it is worth checking your eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).


What Is Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?
PIP is a state benefit, which is designed to help with the extra costs associated with living with a disability or long-term health condition. You do not need to have paid national insurance contributions to qualify for PIP. Your entitlement to PIP is NOT affected by:


  • Your current income
  • Any savings or financial assets you may have
  • Your student status
  • Your employment situation
  • Receipt of student funding


The amount of PIP you receive will depend on the assessor’s view of how your condition affects you, but payments range from £23.20 to £148.85 per week.


Who Can Claim PIP?
To qualify for PIP, you must:


  • - Be of working age (i.e. 16-65 years old).
  • - Not be subject to immigration control (visit the Advice Place if you are unsure).
  • - Be present in Great Britain when you make your claim for PIP.
  • - Have been in Great Britain for at least two of the last three years.
  • - Be habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or Channel Islands (visit the Advice Place if you are unsure).
  • - Have a disability or long-term health condition and difficulties with activities related to daily living and/ or mobility.
  • - Satisfy the ‘disability conditions’ for one or both of the components.


Components and Rates
PIP has two components, daily living and mobility. You may receive just one or both components. Both components are paid at either a standard or enhanced rate.



Qualifying Condition



Daily Living (standard rate)


Your ability to undertake ‘daily living activities’ is ‘limited’ by your physical or mental condition.


Daily Living (enhanced rate)


Your ability to undertake ‘daily living activities’ is ‘severely limited’ by your physical or mental condition.


Mobility (standard rate)


Your ability to undertake ‘mobility activities’ is ‘limited’ by your physical or mental condition.


Mobility (enhanced rate)


Your ability to undertake ‘mobility activities’ is ‘severely limited’ by your physical or mental condition.



The Points System

Your eligibility for the various payments outlined above is assessed using a points-based system centred upon a list of activities and descriptors.

You can find more information here: The daily living component of PIP and the mobility component of PIP are judged independently. So, if one component seems irrelevant, do not be put off as you can still qualify under the other component.

When completing your claim for Personal Independence Payment, you should only state that you are able to undertake an activity ‘unaided’ if you can complete it:


  • - Safely (i.e. in a manner unlikely to cause harm to you or anyone else, either during or after the activity);
  • - To an acceptable standard;
  • - Repeatedly (i.e. as often as the activity usually needs to be repeated); and
  • - Within a reasonable time period (i.e. no more than twice the period normally taken by a person without a physical or mental condition to carry out the activity)


If the impact that your condition has upon your mobility and your ability to undertake tasks tends to fluctuate, contact a member of our welfare team, as we can help you to work out how best to capture this when completing your claim form.

You can take a very short example test here to see how the point system works: (but please don’t be put off if you don’t score enough points from this short test).


How Long Have You Been Affected?

You must demonstrate that you fulfil the ‘required period condition’.

This usually means that you will need to have met the disability conditions for three months before you submitted your claim for PIP and that you expect to meet these conditions for a further nine months after the date of your claim.

In certain circumstances, however, the requirement to wait three months until you submit a claim is waived. This is the case if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. And is also the case, if your disability or long-term illness is such that you can persuade the assessor that your condition (and the impact it has upon your ability to get from a to b and/or to undertake everyday tasks) is unlikely to change or improve over the next year.


How to Claim

Visit this webpage for further information on how to claim PIP.

The claiming process tends to involve a brief call to the Department for Work and Pensions, the completion of a questionnaire and an appointment with a medically-qualified assessor.

The questionnaire aims to determine how your health condition or disability affects you. Some sections of the questionnaire may appear irrelevant to you. Do not let this put you off, you may still qualify for PIP. It is a good idea to ask someone who knows you well to check your questionnaire to ensure that the answers you have provided fully explain the help you require. We recommend that you


  • - Always make a copy of the completed questionnaire before returning it to the DWP.
  • - Keep a copy of any additional information you send with it.
  • - Complete and return the questionnaire within one month of receiving it.

If you do not return the questionnaire in time, your claim will be refused, unless you can show that you have good reason for not completing it. You may be able to ask for more time if you need it. A member of the Advice Place team can help you complete your questionnaire.


Processing Your Claim

On receiving your completed questionnaire, the DWP sends it to a health professional who decides what other evidence s/he thinks is needed to decide your claim. In many cases, you will be asked to attend a consultation with a health professional. You can take someone with you to this meeting. A member of the Advice Place team can attend with you if you would like.


Unfortunately, the claiming process can take several months. You might, however, be able to ask for your payment to be backdated to the date at which you first called DWP to make a claim. For further information on this, contact a member of the Advice Place team.


Further Sources of Support

It is really important to get advice before completing your PIP form because:


  • - The definitions of certain terms are, for the purpose of completing the form, quite specific and familiarity with these definitions can play a key role in helping ensure that you achieve full benefit entitlement.

  • - At times, the points system operates in rather counter-intuitive ways.


Depending on your income, you may, in addition to claiming PIP, be able to claim other benefits to assist with your housing and other essential costs.

If you would like assistance with any of the following:


  • - Assessing your eligibility to claim benefits or tax credits;
  • - The claiming process;
  • - Appealing a benefits decision;


or if you have any other questions about PIP, please get in touch with a member of the Advice Place team.



My doctor has stated that I am “not fit for work”


Students enrolled on a full-time programme of study, are not, unfortunately, eligible for any means-tested benefits if they are not “fit for work” for a short period unless they are in receipt of Personal Independence Payment, are a student parent or live with a non-student partner.


However, if you currently work part-time, we would strongly recommend that you check your contract to see what sickness pay arrangements your employer offers. If your employer advises that they do not provide any sickness pay or the amount that you expect to receive will be less than £94.35/ week, it will be worth checking your entitlement to Statutory Sickness Pay. Statutory Sickness Pay is a payment that all employers have a legal obligation to offer to unwell employees in specified circumstances. Further information can be found here.  Sometimes, employers are not very well informed about their legal duties in this respect. If you need any support with checking eligibility or submitting a claim, we can help.


If you are not eligible for any sickness pay, but have paid sufficient national insurance contributions, you will be able to claim either Contributory Employment Support Allowance or “New Style” Employment Support Allowance. These benefits are designed to help persons with limited capability for work (due to ill-health or disability) with their basic living costs. Depending on your circumstances, you could claim up to £111.65/ week and so this is always worth looking into further. Our advisers will be able to help you to check on your eligibility and to provide further information on how to apply.


I need to take time out from my studies due to ill-health

If you are enrolled on a full-time course of study, you will not (for the most part) be eligible for any additional means-tested benefits during a period of interruption of study unless you are in receipt of Personal Independence Payment, are a student parent or live with a non-student partner.


However if you find yourself in current financial hardship, you will be able to apply for support from the University’s hardship fund or discretionary fund. Our advisers, can also support you in checking on whether you will be able to access any continuation in funding during your interruption.


In addition, if you have taken an interruption of studies for health reasons and subsequently recover but have been told by the University that you will need to wait for a period of time to resume your studies, you may be able to claim Universal Credit . Universal Credit is designed to assist persons on a low-income with their housing costs and day-to-day living costs.


If you are already in receipt of a "legacy benefit" (i.e. working tax credit, child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-related employment support allowance and income-based job-seekers' allowance), we recommend that you seek advice before you start a claim for Universal Credit. As many students find that they receive less financial assistance when claiming Universal Credit than when claiming benefits such as child tax credit and housing benefit.


If you are homeless, living in temporary accommodation or are in receipt of a severe disability premium, special rules will apply. Please get in touch with us for more tailored advice.


Other Sources of Support

The University’s Disability Service assists disabled students with accessing a range of adjustments, support and assistive technologies during their time at university.


The disability service is also able to support you in applying for financial assistance with extra costs or expenses that you may incur whilst studying as a direct result of your disability. This webpage provides some further information.


The Advice Place regularly assist students with a wide range of issues and concerns including housing, money, accessing healthcare and issues with their studies. If you need any assistance, at any stage, feel free to get in touch.


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