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Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

If you become ill or disabled while at work you can claim an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

It's popularly held that being at work is three times more dangerous than going to war. While that's perhaps not entirely true, it is a fact that, despite rigorous health and safety regulations, workplaces are regularly the site of mishaps. Fortunately, if you become ill or disabled while at work you can claim an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

This benefit is not only directed at accidents, but also at disabling diseases that result from the conditions you work under. This definition is fairly generously interpreted, meaning that repeat stress injuries that result from an inherent part of your work are also covered - for example, carpet layers were recently granted leave to claim for osteoarthritis of the knee. In these cases you'd need to have carried out the same task for a significant period of time to qualify - about 20 years is the standard.

Unfortunately, you can't claim for this benefit if you're self-employed.

When you're able to claim

To be successful in a claim for this benefit, you need to have been employed when the injury or accident occurred, and it needs to have happened in England, Scotland or Wales. You must also be able to clearly show the link between your work and your condition. For example, although known to be directly linked to respiratory problems, manufacturing with asbestos continued on large scale until recently. Today, asbestosis is one of more than 70 specific diseases that are covered in the scheme.

In fact, heavy industrial operations have caused a range of conditions that are now categorised and diagnosed, allowing them to be catered for in the scheme. A fairly obvious one is partial or complete deafness as a result of prolonged exposure to extreme volumes, while a lesser known example is “vibration white finger”, where years of using vibrating machines causes sensation, dexterity and even the colour of fingers to be lost over time! This is now quite coyly called “prescribed disease A11” and is covered.

It's also been established that long-term exposure to any form of dust creates a set of specific disabilities – a condition called Pneumoconiosis. This disease not only has a classification under the scheme; it also entitles sufferers to a specific compensation under the Workers Compensation Act. Once a medical diagnosis for a complaint exists which points directly to conditions under which some jobs have to take place, that condition will stand a fair chance of inclusion in the scheme. A full list of diseases covered can be obtained online or from a Jobcentre Plus office.

It's important to know that when it comes to an injury as a result of a work-related accident, you can protect yourself against future consequences. Particularly if it's an injury which may only cause problems later in life (head and back injuries are good examples of this), the correct procedure to follow is to apply for a declaration that you've had an industrial accident.

Even if you don't want to claim a benefit right away, or hope you'll never need to claim one, this measure establishes the fact that your injury (which may evolve into something more severe) can be definitely attributed to your work. Especially when the type of damage you sustain could occur in a number of different ways, not having this official recognition could prove to be the decisive factor in a failed claim if you lodge one later in life.

Amounts due to beneficiaries

Given that each person has different tolerances, the degree to which individuals are disabled by similar work conditions can vary considerably. As a result, the payments which are made under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme can also differ significantly.

The chief way of determining how much will accrue to any individual is by medical recommendation. Once you've started the claim process, a doctor will be assigned to your case. Their task is to assess the degree to which the illness, injury or disability impacts on your capacity to work. This is expressed as percentage. This isn't based entirely on an individual opinion, in many cases there are certain guidelines which will prescribe minimum or maximum limits. One such example is lung diseases – certain of which are mandated at 100% from the start of your claim.

This percentage reflects the percentage of the full standardised weekly benefit amount that you will receive. There are two tiers to the system: over 18, and under 18 with no dependants. The payments for over 18's have an upper level of £158.10 per week, while for under 18's that maximum is £96.90. Payments begin to become due when a doctor decides that your condition affects your ability to work and earn by at least 20%. In that instance, an over 18 would receive 20% of the payment - £31.62 per week.

There are other benefits which may also be due to you, which would increase your weekly income. We've already mentioned Pneumoconiosis as a condition with a specific additional payout, but there are a series of other additional payments which reflect your individual needs. Depending on the precise facts of your claim, there is a Constant Attendance Allowance for people who are 100% disabled and require daily care and attention. If that is permanent and constant, you'll probably also qualify for the Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance – which provides an extra £63.30 per week to help pay for this help.

If your injury occurred before 1 October 1990, you could qualify for a Reduced Earnings Allowance of up to £63.24 each week. If you've reached pensionable age, that will be seen as a Retirement Allowance, and be capped at £15.81 per week.

Be aware that these payments are all viewed as income and could have an impact on any other income-related benefits that you may be claiming. You should also know that this benefit is a particularly durable one, and you're likely to continue receiving it even if you relocate abroad. It is, however, important to keep your claims office informed of any major changes in your circumstances. Moving or visiting abroad would be one, but going into or leaving hospital, care home or prison should all be logged with the office to ensure that you receive the appropriate compensation.