Plea to make welfare support easier for people with a terminal illness

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An Upper Bann MLA has pledged his support to help those with terminal illnesses secure welfare benefits in NI.

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley said the current Special Rules process only allows people to access quick and efficient welfare support if they are deemed to have a medical prognosis of six months or less to live, which limits many claimants with unpredictable terminal conditions.

Mr Buckley said: “Terminally ill people should not have to spend the time they have left fighting for financial support. The current Special Rules process enables people diagnosed with terminal illnesses to get faster access to payments they are entitled to, with as little bureaucratic interference as possible. This allows these people to enjoy a better quality of life during this dark and difficult time.

“However, currently the Special Rules process is limited to only those that have a medical prognosis of six months or less to live. Consequently, it excludes many claimants who have unpredictable terminal conditions. The solution is replacing the rule with a new system based on the judgement of clinicians, recently adopted in Scotland.

“I will be writing to the Permanant Secretary to express my deep concern for terminally ill patients and their ability to access quick welfare payments at a time of such despair. I pledge my support for scrapping the six month rule and replace it with a new system that shows compassion and consideration.”