Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA today suspended reviews and reassessments for health and disability benefits for the next three months.
These measures are to reassure vulnerable people and their families about the continuity of their benefits during the Coronavirus outbreak and to ensure the Department’s resources are focused on enabling access to financial support for people who need it.
Explaining further, the Minister said: “These new measures are in addition to the suspension of face-to-face assessments for all benefits which I announced last week. They are effective from today for a three month period and will see the suspension of:
· all new reviews and reassessments for Personal Independence Payment;
· all re-referrals for Work Capability Assessments across Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit. People in receipt of ESA and UC whose cases have been referred to the provider will be contacted to take this forward;
· all reassessment/renewal activity on other health and disability benefits including Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Disability Living Allowance for both children and those aged 65+, and Attendance Allowance.
“Arrangements will be put in place to extend awards that have an end date to ensure benefit remains in payment. If people experience a change in their needs they are still encouraged to contact the Department to ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.”
The Minister concluded: “During these very challenging times my priority continues to be protecting the health and well-being of those using and delivering these vital services across our communities. My Department will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary.”