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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Manual

Eligibility - miscellaneous: disability - prescribed disabilities (Info)

A person has a prescribed disability if any of the following descriptions apply

  • When standing, they cannot keep their balance unless they continually hold onto something.
  • Using any crutches, walking frame, walking stick, prosthesis or similar walking aid that they habitually use, they cannot walk a continuous (unbroken or without interruption) 100 metres along level ground without stopping or without suffering severe pain.
  • They cannot use either hand behind their back as in the process of putting on a jacket or tucking a shirt or blouse into a waistband.
  • They cannot extend either arm in front of them so as to shake hands with another person without difficulty.

Note: A difficult task requires effort and is troublesome or hard, needing much labour to do (not a small or moderate amount of labour). For example, a fit person would not find climbing stairs difficult, even though effort is involved. However, someone with a heart condition may experience breathlessness or pain or may take a long time to climb the stairs and therefore find the task difficult.

  • They cannot put either of their hands up to their head without difficulty, so as to put on a hat.
  • Due to lack of manual dexterity, they cannot pick up with one hand a coin that is less than 2.5 centimetres in diameter (smaller than a ten pence piece).

Note: ‘Manual dexterity’ means the skill needed to pick up a coin. Any associated bending or crouching needed is not part of the test. A person meets the test if a coin of the relevant size cannot be picked up using only one hand.

  • They are not able to use their hands or arms to pick up a full one litre jug and pour from it into a cup, without difficulty.
  • They cannot turn either hand sideways through 180 degrees.
  • They are certified as severely sight impaired or blind by a consultant Ophthalmologist.
  • They cannot see to read 16 point print further than 20 centimetres away wearing the glasses they normally use.
  • They cannot hear a phone ring (when in the same room as the phone) wearing any hearing aid they normally use.

Note: This means a ring of the normal volume expected of a phone, not one fitted with a special amplifier for the benefit of a deaf person.

  • In a quiet room (where the listener is not distracted by other noise) they have difficulty in hearing what someone (talking in a loud voice at a distance of two metres) says wearing any hearing aid they normally use.
  • People who know the customer well have difficulty in understanding what they are saying.

Note: These tests concern the clarity of speech and hearing of the disabled person. People who may satisfy this test are deaf people and mentally handicapped people with severe learning difficulties. ‘People who know the customer well’ are usually relatives, friends or work colleagues.

  • When a person they know well speaks to them, they have difficulty in understanding what that person says.
  • At least once a year during waking hours, they are in a coma or have a fit in which they lose consciousness.

Note: This is a coma or fit in which consciousness is lost (any sudden loss of consciousness other than falling asleep) - for example, an epileptic fit or diabetic coma. Someone who has an epileptic fit that does not lead to a loss of consciousness will not satisfy this test.

  • They have a mental illness for which they receive regular treatment under the supervision of a medically-qualified person.

Note: A mental illness is a disorder of the mind such as psychotic conditions (for example, schizophrenia), neuroses (for example, anxiety or phobias) or personality disorders and dementia.

Note: Mental handicap or mental retardation is the failure of normal mental development. It is not a mental illness.

  • Due to mental disability (a disability arising from any mental disorder, whether an illness or handicap), they are often confused or forgetful.
  • They cannot do the simplest addition and subtraction.
  • Due to mental disability, they strike people or damage property or are unable to form normal social relationships (those involving interpersonal skills with work colleagues, neighbours, travelling companions and so on).
  • They cannot normally sustain an eight-hour working day or a five-day working week due to a medical condition, or intermittent or continuous severe pain.
  • (for initial claims only) as a result of an illness or accident, they are undergoing a period of habilitation or rehabilitation.

Note: An initial claim is a claim from someone who has not been paid Disabled Persons Tax Credit (DPTC) or the disability element of (Working Tax Credit) WTC in the last two years.

Additional definitions

habilitation or rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is helping somebody to do something again that they could do before the illness or accident. Habilitation means making them able to do something which they have not done before.

Rehabilitation following illness or injury may involve making a person fully effective throughout the working day. The person may be too weak or recovering from a psychiatric illness to work a full day. Time off for physiotherapy or some other form of treatment may be needed. The person may take longer or need extra rest periods or have to avoid stress. Part-time working may be appropriate.

Habilitation could be training a person who cannot do his previous job because of an accident or illness, to be able to do a different job. A person who has never worked before can receive habilitation following illness or injury.

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regular treatment

To be receiving treatment (or therapy) for a mental illness, a person must be getting assistance or advice on an ongoing basis from a doctor or some other medical professional. The treatment can be:

  • medication prescribed by a doctor
  • physiotherapy or occupational therapy
  • counselling by a doctor, psychologist or psychiatric nurse or by some other medically-qualified person involved in their care.

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severe pain

Severe pain can be serious or extreme pain but does not have to be a sharp stabbing pain. Any pain that is distressing or debilitating, that causes the sufferer to stop what they’re doing is severe. Continuous nagging pain that affects concentration, effectiveness or productivity is also severe.

Example 1 - a person who is unable to sit or stand for long periods because of back pain would have intermittent severe pain

Example 2 - a person who finds it difficult to concentrate or carry on with tasks because of an unending severe headache, could be said to be suffering from continuous severe pain (a pain that is always there and from which no relief is likely).

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sustain an eight-hour working day or a five-day working week

A person should not fail the test simply because the job exceeds eight hours each day or five days each week. The test is whether a person is disadvantaged in getting a job in the open market. A person may work more than eight hours each day or five days each week if the job has been adapted to suit their needs.

Example 1 - the person works 42 hours each week as a telephonist. She states she cannot maintain a normal working week because she becomes physically exhausted. However, she has no special breaks, and the job is not tailored for her needs. She is maintaining a normal working week and is not at a disadvantage in getting a job. The test is not satisfied.

Example 2 - the person is a piece worker in a clothing factory and works 41 hours each week. She suffers continuously from severe back pain and as a result has to take regular breaks away from her machine. Her employer has allowed her special breaks because of this. The test is satisfied.

Example 3 - the person works as a clerical officer with a local authority working 40 hours each week. He regularly has severe migraine attacks and during these attacks he cannot continue with his duties. His employer has adapted his job to try to avoid tasks which may bring on these attacks. The test is satisfied.

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Walking 100 metres on level ground without stopping or suffering severe pain. There are four elements to this test

Walking - this is the ability to move using legs or feet or a combination of them over ground that is more or less level. Negotiating hills or climbing is not part of the test.

Level ground - ground extending for 100 metres which is more or less level. There may be slight inclinations or declines but not hills or small holes or cracks in a paved surface but not pot holes or road works.

Stopping - to come to a standstill or pause briefly or momentarily. The test is satisfied by a person who needs to stop for a rest or a person who does not rest but comes to a standstill for a moment or two on a number of occasions.

Severe pain - debilitating pain that stops a person until it goes away or slows a person down. The pain does not have to be directly linked to the process of walking, (that is, a disability of hip, leg or foot) but does have to be connected with walking (for example, someone with a heart condition who experiences severe chest pains as a result of walking would satisfy the test).

Note: A person does not satisfy the test simply because it takes a long time to walk 100 metres, unless it is because of severe pain or stopping.