Higher Rate Mobility DLA- it means freedom, I hope.

I’ve been blogging about my experiences since becoming disabled, and made a claim for DLA last July, when I qualified according to the criteria. Universally regarded as a very difficult benefit to claim, it always amazes me why the general public fall for the propaganda that this benefit is claimed by fraudsters. I can tell you that with a 53 page application form, and a proceedure to claim it which would have sent a less determined character back under the duvet, this is indeed a very difficult benefit to claim. The process has taken 9 months, during which time I have been unable to plan any independent travel at all.

The final stage for those whose claim is rejected, is to appeal to a Tribunal. I have just completed this stage, and now I am in receipt of Higher Rate Mobility DLA.

But what does this mean?

Well, it means that I qualify for a benefit which amounts to about £50 a week, which will help me with the additional costs involved in being disabled and trying to get around.

One of the ways that it can help, is through the Motability scheme. If you are in receipt of Higher Rate DLA (or War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement) then you qualify for this scheme.

It means I can give my DLA in return for a vehicle which is suitable for my needs. I like the way that the search filters on the motability site can be set to check the height of the sill, the height of the chair and other useful stuff. I never did really care about the usual specs when reading up on cars I might buy. This seems much more user friendly.

Twitter is great for trying out new ideas, because there’s always someone with the expertise you need. In my case, last night I was lucky enough to get some help from @GentleChaos and @MargoJMilne, both of whom also have a Higher Rate Mobility DLA award. They gave me excellent advice, which I am now going to share with you:

  • Get an assessment from a local driving assessment centre. Even if they charge for this, it is invaluable to hear from them about the kind of vehicle that will suit you and any adaptations that could be fitted to it that would make life easier for you. I am lucky enough to live near the William Merritt Mobility Centre, which offers such a service, but they are available all over the country.
  • Consider the difficulties you face with the idea of driving- one of these for me is the business of lifting the wheelchair into the vehicle after I have transferred in. But lo, someone clever has already come up with fantastic solutions to these kind of problems, and I quickly found this resource. Your Driving Assessment Centre will be able to helpp with this, too.
  • Ask around for recommendations- stands to reason that like all car dealerships, a personal recommendation counts for a lot. So I am going to start with this, a local organisation for disabled people, to find out if anyone there can help with a recommendation.
  • Look for grant funding to help with the costs of any adaptations that don’t come free with your motability vehicle. Here is a list of grants one organisation has put together- by all means not an exhaustive list, but somewhere to start.
  • Access to work is available to you once you get higher rate DLA, and they will help to fund (with a proportion paid by your employer) adaptations that represent reasonable adjustments to enable you to stay in your job. I’ll be posting more about this once I’ve travelled a little further down this road. The website doesn’t mention that you need higher rate mobility, but when I called them that was the first question they asked, and they told me they wouldn’t discuss my case until the Tribunal was over and we knew if I was going to get it.
So that’s it, folks the story so far. Do feel free to leave comments below with any tips you may have about how to go about the next steps.
It’s all systems go- as my Big Girl frequently says- “To Infinity and Beyond!”
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  1. It took me ages after getting HRM DLA to decide to get a Motability car, but it’s been fantastic. I’m about to change to a van as my needs are changing (more mobility aids and more need to have them all with me), and it’s so much easier than if I’d bought a car and then needed to change it. There’s lots of help and information available. Good luck finding the right car!

    • Thanks Naomi! Yes, I was loathe to look into it before the award was confirmed because I knew it would depress me, but it seems entirely possible that I can now solve some of the problems around going back to work- and I can now sell my old faithful Volvo that I miss driving but it’s no good just watching it sitting there out of the window!
      Thanks for the advice- I certainly plan to check this one out but it does seem like a good scheme. Having a wheelchair, crutches, and probably a pushchair is an awful lot of luggage- so I may even go with a van, too- what did you choose?

      • I currently have a Ford Fusion, which is a good size, but not very economical. I haven’t chosen a van yet – I’m starting to look for one over the next few months. Wishing you all the best with choosing your vehicle!

  2. Could not agree more with all if the details above. I am a partner for a company who supply and fit adaptions for the Motability scheme. When it comes to adaptions (especially wheelchair/scooter hoists), it is important to make things as simple as possible for yourself. The assessment centres will help you as much as they can, but it may also pay to speak to the adaption specialist. They will be able to tell you if your wheelchair/scooter will fit in the car that you want. If they say “yes but it’ll be a squeeze”, think about a bigger car. You will benefit in the long run.

    As for adaptions in general, I would look at the following adaptation manufacturers:

    Jeff Gosling Hand Controls – excellent company with the highest quality hand controls I have ever fitted. Custom made to over 1000 vehicle specifications, you should seriously consider them for hand controls, left foot accelerators and steering aids and easy release hand brakes/gear shifters.

    Autochair – big name for wheelchair hoists, person lifts, roof mounted wheelchair carriers and swivel seats

    Brig-Ayd Controls. Again, good company for wheelchair hoists

    Lodgesons – THE company for wireless secondary controls

    Elap Engineering – just released a new electric swivel seat that can be programmed to turn perfectly around a door pillar.

    • Thanks, Ben, you sound like a fantastic resource and I’m glad you’ve commented so that I can share your tips with everyone that reads this I will definitely bear in mind your expert advice and product knowledge when I’m going to the dealerships and assessment centres. Thanks for commenting!

  1. All aboard the Motability scheme- Renault review « OT on wheels

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