Reduced Earnings Allowance

The Reduced Earning Allowance (REA) is a benefit that may be awarded for a work-related injury sustained, or a disease contracted, as a result of your occupation. Importantly, it only applies to injuries that happened before 1 October 1990, or health conditions where the onset date was before then. Since it's designed to provide additional compensation (but can also be the only benefit) for a lowering or loss of your ability to earn money, it is possible that an injury sustained before then may only be causing significant problems now. It is possible to still claim.

Because your eligibility for this benefit is determined by events fairly long past, the rules which govern whether you'll qualify are a little complex. In this article, we'll try to make it as clear as we can. If you are suffering income loss now as a result of something which does stem from before that cut-off date, it'll be worth the effort of finding out if you're eligible.

If you suffer from more than one work-related disease or injury, you can file separate claims for each of them.

Qualification for making an REA claim

To lodge an application for REA, you need to be able to show that your injury or illness meets the timing criterion of 1 October 1990. Doing this will probably require documentation from before that date – either medical evidence of the onset of the disease or complaint, or an appropriately dated declaration that you've had an industrial accident.

There are also qualification exceptions to this seemingly simple rule. If your earnings are being affected by a disease which started showing symptoms and was diagnosed as such before the cut-off date, but which were only added to the schedule of prescribed diseases after (or on) 10 October 1994 – you aren't eligible. Similarly, if the definition of a prescribed disease was changed on or after 10 October 1994 that would only include your condition under the new description, you also won't succeed in an REA claim.

Having passed these tests of eligibility, you then need to be able to establish that this is a disablement which affects your ability to work for the same money you would be able to earn without the problem. Normally an REA is paid as an additional benefit to an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. In being medically assessed for this benefit, you would have been assigned a percentage indicator of how severe your disablement is. But, unlike an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, provided you have been assessed at 1% or more, you can qualify for REA. This makes it possible for REA to be a stand-alone benefit. If you haven't been assessed by an appointed doctor or healthcare worker, you'll need to undergo that process for this claim.

To prove the central question of loss of earnings, the Medical Services personnel who advise Jobcentre Plus must agree that it's this percentage of disablement, caused by the relevant work-related incident or conditions, which now affects your income. That means that, as a result, you must be unable to return to your regular occupation and be unable to get other suitable work of the same pay. In certain circumstances, they may be willing to consider whether your disablement is affecting your chance of promotion, and hence your earnings.

Another complexity comes up when the claim for a issue that relates to work you were being paid for, but wasn't your normal work; your “regular occupation”. Not surprisingly, to qualify for REA for a work-related health condition, the condition would need to relate to your regular occupation. So, if you were a carpet layer for a month in 1989, you won't get REA for an arthritic knee today. But in the case of being affected by a work-related accident, your claim remains the same as long as the accident happened while executing a job you were being for and now affects your ability to carry out your regular occupation.

The claims process

Claiming REA requires that a BI103 form is filled in. These are available from your nearest Regional Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit Delivery Centre. If this presents a challenge to you, you can call the Benefit Enquiry Line by dialling 0800 88 22 00 for help with completing a form. It's specifically advised by Jobcentre Plus that you submit your claim as soon as you believe you qualify. Don't wait for the results of an Industrial Injuries claim before doing so, as there are circumstances which can lead to the loss of your benefit.

These forms are sent to Medical Services to determine whether you meet the criteria we've discussed in the article so far. To recap, they'll check:

  • Whether your condition prevents you from pursuing your regular occupation.
  • That it meets the date criteria discussed.
  • Whether your condition is temporarily or permanently affecting your abilities.
  • How it impacts on your chances of equal income in another job.

If your claim is successful, you will qualify for an amount up to 40% of the current Industrial Injuries Benefit Allowance (IIBA). At the time of writing (2012) this would be £63.24. Where more than one REA benefit is received all the REA and IIBA benefits added together can't exceed 140% of the maximum IIBA. This would currently be £158.10 + £63.24 = £221.34 per week. This money will be paid into a bank or building society account that you nominate. The benefit amount can be paid weekly, every 4 weeks, or quarterly - every 13 weeks.

Be aware that REA can affect a range of other income-based benefits. Check with a Jobcentre Plus for details, if you're unclear on the effect it may have.

Information about changes in circumstance

You are obligated to inform a Regional Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit Delivery Centre if your circumstances change in any way with regards to your earnings. This would be if you start or stop a job, your pay rate changes, you change occupation, go on pension, or start receiving an Incapacity Benefit. You must also inform them if you enter into any form of marriage or civil partnership, or if your address changes – especially if the change is to an address overseas, or a prison.

If you leave the country, you can claim REA for 3 months provided your stay isn't permanent, you're not abroad on business, and your claim was received before you left. Regardless of the length of time you are away, you can claim REA once again on your return – but only if you would have qualified for it by all the other criteria for the entire time you were away. Unfortunately, you can't be eligible for REA while you are imprisoned.