How to claim
Before you make a claim, it is important to realise that this will be a long process. You may feel put off just by the amount of paperwork to fill out. You may find that concentrating on your difficulties and experiences upsets you. However remember the DLA can make a big difference to your income, even if you are working.
There are frequent changes to the DLA claim form and you should always check that you have the up to date version. People claiming this benefit for the first time have to complete a lengthy application form of 21 sections. Because the form changes so often we have not made reference to page numbers in this document. Do remember the form is there to allow you to assess your own needs. But it is a long form.
The first thing to do is get a DLA claim pack. You can get the form from your local social security office or the Benefits Enquiry Line (0800 882 200) will post you a copy if asked. It usually arrives within five working days.
When you receive your claim pack it will be date stamped, usually twice. This is the date of the request and usually a date six weeks later where you must return it. Not all forms have this, but it should say inside the form that if you return it completed within six weeks your claim will be back dated to the day you applied, if you are accepted. If you are late returning it don’t worry. Your claim will still be considered but you might not be able to claim back dated allowance from the date you applied.
The pack will also contain guidance notes. These should be read carefully. It will be helpful to have someone who can go through it with you. We would recommend that you have support when completing this form, either a friend or someone from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. It will take several hours to complete and then you will need time to write your supporting letter. Do consider your needs for help and describe what you need in your own words. Do fill the form out honestly.
The claim form can be confusing. If the questions do not cover all your needs, and with narcolepsy they probably will not, don’t worry! You can provide additional evidence in covering letters from a Doctor, Consultant or GP, support worker or nurse etc.
The claims form may seem to be asking the same question twice. Always provide detailed information even if you are repeating yourself.
As with anything to do with official requests make a copy of your form for future reference
In the claim form you will find that you are asked to attach a statement from the “person who knows you best”. This could be a relative or partner, a carer or someone with up to date knowledge of your health problems like a nurse or GP. This is an important section to get completed and do state in the box that there is a supporting letter or letters attached with the forms.
Again do take copies of these letters; you will not be surprised at how often they go missing.
Do follow the guidelines when filling out the form. Don’t be afraid of any sections and if you need to give extra information do. Just attach extra sheets to the form headed with the question number. Again do remember that pages can be lost when forms are opened. Every extra sheet you add, do place your name and your reference number on each sheet. If you don’t have or can’t find your reference number add you date of birth or national insurance number to your name.
Before answering a question or giving extra information look back on what you said in other questions. The last thing you want to do is to contradict yourself!
Two final points to mention about the form in general; the first is about your GP. For the rest of this information pack, we assume that you have good relations with your GP. Some people with narcolepsy (and some without narcolepsy) do find it difficult to have a good relationship with their GP. For the DLA, while they will need a medical professional to contact, that could be your specialist. You can ask that your GP does not see the form or be asked to provide information. However do not be surprised if you are asked why you requested this.
The second point to mention is try to keep a diary of your symptoms. Use the headings from the DLA form (see below) to act as a memory jogger for things like times and distance and medication. All the stuff you can easily forget. It also becomes a record that you can refer to later and you should take it with you, and try to keep it up to date, whenever you are invited to a meeting with the Department for Work and Pensions.