Welfare benefit promotion within a district general hospital rheumatology centre: A joint project with the local Citizens Advice Bureau

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Abstract

Objectives:

The Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), used in arthritis provides an overall disability index and has been used previously to indicate those patients with arthritis who may be eligible for welfare benefits such as Attendance Allowance (AA) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) (Langley et al., 2004, Memel et al., 2002, Powell et al., 2004). The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the HAQ in this local population as a tool for identifying patients who may be eligible for benefits, and to assist those identified in claiming benefits with the help of a Citizens Advice Bureau benefits advisor.

Method:

HAQ forms were sent to patients attending the Rheumatology Centre, all those patients with a HAQ score of ≤1.5, indicating moderate to severe disability were contacted initially by telephone by the CAB advisor. Those whom were considered eligible were invited to attend the Rheumatology Centre to determine their suitability to apply for benefit. Suitable patients were invited to complete a department of Work and Pensions claim pack either with the advisor in the Rheumatology Centre, with a CAB form completion volunteer within the patient's home or fill the forms in themselves.

Results:

Of the 86 patients contacted by the CAB advisor, 48 were already on benefits, 8 of these patients were advised to have their benefits reviewed. 38 were not in receipt of any benefits. 29 (63%) were awarded benefits.

Conclusions:

The HAQ was found to be a useful tool in this local population for identifying patients with arthritis who may be entitled to AA or DLA. The CAB advisor was central to the identification and application process for eligible patients for AA and DLA, which in some cases led to the award of other entitlements. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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