coinsMANY families with disabled children are not claiming benefits they are entitled to because of the way some sections of the media portray claimants.

Disability charity Contact a Family’s Counting the Costs survey of over 3,500 respondents shows that:

70% say stigma of claiming disability benefits for their children has increased in the last two years.

62% don’t tell people that they claim benefits for their disabled child.

11% received verbal insults from friends/family members because they claim benefits for their disabled child.

Of 481 surveyed parents not claiming Disability Living Allowance, nearly one in 5 (18%) said they felt uneasy claiming benefits for their child.

Last year the charity ran a project with the Family Fund to identify low income families with disabled children who were not claiming any financial support, and work with them to help them get what they were entitled to.

The families helped by the project increased their income by an average of £3,500 a year by claiming what they were entitled to for their child.

When we asked why they had not claimed, the main reason given was to do with misconception of who is eligible – but almost one in five said they did not claim because they felt uneasy about it.

Una Summerson, head of policy at Contact a Family, said: “One reason that shouldn’t stop parents claiming benefits is the feeling that they are not entitled to or should not need extra help.

“It costs three times more to raise a disabled child than a non-disabled child.

“More than a quarter of the 3,500 parents who took part in our survey said that every month they face £300 or more extra costs relating to their child’s disability or health condition. These costs can include high heating bills because a child’s condition requires them to stay warm; travel expenses to and from hospital appointments; special food, and adaptations to the home or car.”

If you are a parent of a disabled child and would like to check whether you might be entitled to DLA or other benefits, call the CAF free helpline on 0808 888 3555 to get a benefits check.

THE charity’s Special Educational Needs Advice Line, which last year answered more than 3,400 enquiries from parents’ worried about their child’s education and disability issues, has just received £30,000 funding from the Freemasons to continue its work.