How the Contact helpline changed my life

Hello my name is Natasha, a mum with 3 children. I'm writing this blog so I can tell you how calling Contact's Helpline changed my family's life. 

I'm a single parent of three and my 9 year old daughter has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). She's gets Disability Living Allowance (DLA). I'm also disabled and get Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (IR ESA). 
Before I talked to Contact's Helpline I was in touch with a local advice agency who wrongly told me that I wouldn't get Carer's Allowance (CA) because I'm disabled. They also said there was nothing I could do about the benefit cap which meant a £16 shortfall in my Housing Benefit. I phoned Contact's Helpline to check if this was right and Derek, one of their helpline advisers explained that the information I'd been given was wrong.

My own health problems didn't mean I couldn't claim Carer's Allowance (CA). I provide more than 35 hours a week care - so a claim for CA was perfectly feasible and would result in an increase of £36 in my weekly payments.

Having a dependent child on DLA means I should be exempt from the benefit cap. Derek gave me a letter to take to my local council pointing this out and asking that the £16 per week that had been cut from my housing benefit be backdated to the date of the DLA award in 2016.

Derek also told me I needed to let the Tax Credits Office know that my daughter gets DLA. This meant that I was entitled to an extra tax credit payment of £62.86 per week (known as the disabled child element). He let me know that this should be backdated in line with the DLA award so long as I tell the Tax Credits Office within a month of getting the appeal decision.

Contact called me back several months later to see how I was doing and I was pleased to tell them that thanks to their help, I'm now getting Carer's Allowance and that the benefit cap no longer applies to my housing benefit.  

My tax credits had also increased by £62.86 per week but had only been backdated to April 2017. Derek said I should challenge this and helped me lodge a request to re-consider this decision. This was successful and the Tax Credits Office agreed to backdate my payments to July 2016.

So that's how Contact's helpline changed my life. I could never be without it. I had no idea a simple phone call could do so much for me and my family and make such a difference.

Contact's helpline helps thousands of families like mine increase their income like this each year. The evidence from our calls also helps us lobby the government for better support for families with disabled children. 

Written by Contact at 15:20