A guide to central heating & boiler grants

Before we talk about the boiler replacement costs we should discuss why you will want to replace a boiler and what benefit a replacement boiler gives to its owner.

The UK government has set up a free boiler replacement scheme to attempt to reduce the United Kingdom’s carbon footprint and to reduce the incidence of fuel poverty amongst the poorest of the UK’s inhabitants. It is a fact that the poorest inhabitants are those who, because they aren’t able to afford a new and efficient boiler themselves must continue to use an old and inefficient heating system, with the increases in fuel consumption, costs and increased carbon footprint that such a heating system carries with it.

The idea of the free boiler service is to target those who live in their own homes, social housing and private rentals and who qualify for certain government benefits. It offers them the chance to have an interest free boiler replacement as well as repairs and other upgrades to their existing heating system to bring it compatible with modern requirements. In addition, they may also qualify for help with the cost of loft and cavity wall insulation, but this is outside the scope of this article.

Are you eligible for a free boiler replacement?

The UK Government’s Affordable Warmth Obligation offers ways for householders, including those living in rented accommodation, to make their homes more energy efficient in general, including the cost of repairing or replacing a boiler to bring it up to the modern energy efficiency standards. It isn’t just the tenants and householders who are being subsidised with this scheme, private landlords with low-income tenants may also be eligible to receive help too.

If you, as a tenant live in a social housing property that has an energy efficiency rating of E,F or G you may be able to get finance to help with the purchase, and installing a modern heating system. The Energy Performance Certificate Register (EPCR) is there to help you find out your property’s energy efficiency rating. If you find it too complicated to use then you can ask your Housing Association or landlord. The Simple Energy Advice website is there to give advice on all kinds of energy efficiency improvements from simple draughtproofing to having a new boiler installed to installing cavity wall insulation. It will also give information on the type of home energy grants that are available to help with heating costs and the cost of installing equipment.

So who is paying for this?

The country’s largest boiler manufacturers have developed innovative new designs to make boilers more energy efficient, while the energy suppliers have agreed to install free boilers for tenants and homeowners that cannot afford to buy their own. Most of the boilers will be completely free to eligible householders and landlords and they will be under no obligation to pay back their boiler replacement grants.

Landlord Boiler Cover

This free boiler scheme for landlords isn’t all about handing out free boilers for landlords and Housing Associations, although a free new boiler is a great perk and a really useful improvement to their property. The scheme’s main purpose is to provide cheap and economical heating for the landlord’s low-income families.

The landlord will still have to have his equipment insured and they must still have the new boilers checked and maintained at their own expense,  just like the old ones.

There are many different insurance policies that deal with a landlord’s boiler and heating cover and a lot of these incorporate the standard landlord’s building insurance as well. Money Super Market lists the policies available that have the best boiler cover on the market. They range from about £5 per month right up to about £20 per month and their benefits vary with the price. It is up to the landlord to look at these and find other quotations before he or she makes up their own mind about which policy to buy. The landlord can, of course, contact his existing building insurance company to find out if there is an ‘add-on’ to his existing insurance that will do the same job.

Other boiler costs for a landlord

The basic boiler insurance cover mentioned previously will cover various items depending on the terms of the cover, but basically, it is about looking after the boiler in the event of a breakdown and compensating for any damage done as a cause of the breakdown. As well as holding insurance for their brand new boiler, the other costs applicable will be the price of having the boiler maintained by a qualified technician plus any spare parts needed to give compliance with the landlord’s obligations under the existing tenancy regulations. Remember that not all boilers are the same. Some are worse and some better than others, which means that they will all last for varying amounts of time before they start to need repair and maintenance and subsequent spare parts. No-one in the UK is allowed to work on a gas boiler (in fact on any boiler) unless they are properly qualified and trained. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the technician’s qualifications are adequate for the work. Remember that a new boiler is an expensive piece of equipment and just because you received it for free under the new boiler scheme doesn’t mean that you can forget about maintenance. The landlord is still under an obligation to ensure the boiler is kept regularly serviced and looked after. It is better for continuity if the landlord chooses an installation company who will install the boiler and then offer additional maintenance and servicing for the life of the appliance. This will ensure that the boiler is maintained consistently and that the technicians who are charged with the boiler’s maintenance know the machine’s history and what its idiosyncrasies are.

Complaints with installation work

If there are any complaints with the installation of the heating system paid for by the landlord boiler scheme, the landlord must first contact the installation company who initially carried out the work. Conversely, if you own your own home then you will have to contact the installer yourself. If there is no joy at this level, then contact the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline. The Citizen’s Advice helpline advisor can help with the following

  • Giving practical help and impartial advice to help resolve the problem.
  • Advise on which law is applicable to your situation and how the law is being broken.
  • Passing on information about your problem to the local Trading Standards Office who will then take the situation further (unfortunately you cannot contact Trading Standards yourself).
  • Advise you on how to go about making a complaint to the installation contractor and the specific wording that needs to be written into the letter.
  • They cannot make the complaint for you, only give advice.
  • They cannot take legal action for you. They can, however, give advice on how to go about contacting the Small Claims Court and suing the other party for compensation. Remember that the Citizen’s Advice organisation is no substitute for a properly trained legal advisor.

To Finish

It is very important in these days of impending climate change that everyone does their bit to help reduce our carbon footprint. Even if you don’t think of yourself as particularly ‘Green’, you will be interested in reducing the cost of your own energy bills or those of the people that mean a lot to you such as elderly parents or grandparents. The easiest way to reduce the costs of your domestic heating is to update the type of heating system you have. Unfortunately, this can be very expensive and not always within the reach of those on a low income or who receive certain benefits because of poor health, age or vulnerability. It is these people who have been targeted by the UK government and who are being helped by the Affordable Warmth Obligation with the assistance of the main energy providers. Luckily those being helped are not just those people who own their own homes,  social housing associations and private landlords are also being helped to install new and updated heating systems for the benefit of their tenants.  Although the latest phase of the  Affordable Warmth Obligation is aimed more towards those who have gas central heating, there is a scheme to help those with mainly electrical systems as well. The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a way for consumers to receive £140 credited towards their electricity bill for the 2018 to 2019 winter (One assumes that it will continue to operate at least into next year and the year after).  Once again in order to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme, you will need to be eligible for certain government benefits or be on a low income.

If you believe that you should be eligible for any of the help mentioned on this page, whether you own your own home or are a tenant in social housing or a private rental, look on the links supplied in this article, look on the UK Government website, contact the Citizen’s Advice or contact your landlord. It will not only benefit the climate but also may benefit your pocket by reducing your monthly heating bills.

Benefits & Entitlements for Elderly

As you get older you become eligible for a range of benefits, discounts and grants. The type and nature of these benefits vary greatly and can provide essential assistance when you need it. Unfortunately, many of the benefits available to pensioners are not claimed year after year and a potential reason for this is people simply not being aware of what is available to them.

According to Age UK, over three billion pounds of pension credit and benefits go unclaimed despite millions of elderly people struggling financially. At times, making ends meet can be a struggle and a helping hand can make the world of difference. We have created this guide to help you make sure you’re getting the benefits you’re entitled to.

Age related benefits

Benefits are often thought of as something you are able to utilise if you are financially struggling or unwell. That’s not the case! Some benefits and many of the benefits listed below are age-related meaning that if you are over a certain age, no matter what your health or income, you are entitled to the financial aid or services. There are certain benefits that are based on factors including health and income too. The requirements vary greatly between each benefit or grant so it is always worth finding out more information or applying just in case you are entitled to the assistance.

Age related benefits include travel discounts, winter fuel payment, insulation grants, free eye tests and prescriptions, TV licence discounts and attendance allowance.

Transport discounts

As you get older, you may not be able to continue driving due to medical reasons or you may choose not to drive or have the worry of maintaining and paying for a vehicle anymore. This does not mean your freedom and independence is lost, in fact there are a few transport discounts that can help keep your travel costs down. Whether you prefer buses or trains, you will be able to reduce transport costs with the following:

Bus Pass

There are several offers available when it comes to bus travel, the details and requirements vary slightly depending on when you live:

  • If you live in England or Wales, when you reach the female state pension age (this applies whether you are a man or a woman) you can get a bus pass that allows you to travel for free at any time.
  • If you live in London and are 60 or older you can travel on London Transport for free using an Oyster photocard, but this only applies within the London area.
  • If you live in London and are over 66 years old, you are eligible for a London Freedom Pass. This allows you to travel for free across London as well as on local bus journeys throughout England.
  • If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland you are eligible for an older person’s bus pass when you are 60.

Train Journeys

When it comes to traveling by train, although there is no free pass, you can buy a Senior Railcard for a one-off fee. This railcard is available to people over 60, it costs £30 a year and gives you discounts of up to ⅓ on rail travel across the UK. There are terms and conditions to the Senior Railcard, for example, it cannot be used during peak morning times within London and the South East Network from Monday – Friday. You can order a Senior Railcard online or apply for one at most manned train stations.

Passports

If you are a British National and were born on or before 2 September 1929 you are eligible for a free passport. However, if you need a passport urgently or require a 50 page passport rather than a standard 34 page passport costs will apply.

Boiler/ Energy Discounts

Keeping your house warm can be costly, fortunately there are several payments and discounts available that help to take the worry out of winter energy bills. Your energy supplier may also be able to provide you with additional support, this is available if you sign up to the Priority Services Register and can get you assistance with a range of energy-related tasks including; reading your energy meter, moving your meter and getting your bills sent to someone else such as a carer.

Winter Fuel Payment

This is a payment of between £100 – £300 to help pay your heating bills, you are eligible for this if you were born on or before 5 November 1953. If you are eligible and you get state pension or another social security benefit you should receive this payment automatically. Payments are made between November and December. If you are eligible but do not receive this payment automatically you will need to make a claim.

Cold Weather Payments

These are payments available between 1st November and 31st March, they consist of £25 per 7 day period of very cold weather (0 degrees celsius or less). You should receive the payment up to 14 days after the period of cold weather. You will usually get this if you are receiving pension credit.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

If you are on a low income or receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit you may be eligible for £140 off your electricity bill. This payment is not paid directly to you, it is discounted from your energy bill. You may be able to receive the discount on your gas bill instead, if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. You should receive a letter detailing how to get this discount if you are eligible. Not all suppliers offer this discount, so if you are thinking about switching suppliers make sure the new supplier participates in the scheme to avoid an increase in your bills.

There are also various grants available that partially or fully cover the cost of improving your homes insulation or getting a new boiler, these changes can help keep your home warm while also reducing your energy costs. Generally, the following grants are available when the oldest person in the household is over 70 years old:

  • Loft Insulation – if your home is insufficiently insulated you could be losing up to a third of heat. By insulating your loft it can help keep your home warm and will reduce your heating bills. According to Which? you could save up to £130 a year by insulating your loft in a semi-detached house.
  • Cavity Wall Insulation – installing cavity wall insulation is a simple, relatively quick job that helps your home retain heat. Many homes will benefit from cavity wall insulation, particularly homes built between 1924 – 1982.
  • Solid Wall Insulation – as cavity wall insulation is not suitable for all homes and heat also escapes through solid walls, there are solid wall insulation grants available too.
  • Boilers – a new boiler would be more energy efficient, would reduce fuel waste and would also help reduce energy costs. As a new boiler can be very expensive there are new boiler grants that can reduce the cost substantially – you could pay as little as £240 including fitting.

Free or discounted loft or wall insulation is offered by some energy suppliers as part of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. Insulation and boiler grants may also be available as part of the Affordable Warmth scheme.

NHS Health Costs

Anyone over 60 years old can get free eye tests and free prescriptions. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be eligible for other benefits including; assistance with travel costs when receiving NHS treatment, free NHS dental treatment, free NHS wigs/ fabric support and assistance with glasses and contact lens costs.

Pension Credit

This income-related credit can help you with some extra finances during retirement. You are eligible for pension credit if you have a weekly income of £163 or less and are an eligible age (the age is based on your gender and date of birth and is subject to change). If you are a carer you may be entitled to Carer Premium too which is worth up to £36 a week.

Pension Credit comes in two parts; guarantee credit and savings credit. Guarantee credit tops up your weekly income to a minimum of £163 a week. Savings credit can give you a boost of up to £13.40 a week. You are only eligible for savings credit if you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

Pension Credit offers more than a financial aid, if you are eligible it can also assist with Council Tax, rent, mortgage interest, ground rent and service charges, cold weather payment, NHS dental treatment and more.

Council Tax Support

This helps people with low income, or those receiving certain benefits, pay their Council Tax bill. If you are receiving the Guaranteed Credit part of Pension Credit your Council Tax may be paid in full for you. There are also discounts available for pensioners depending on their situation, for example if they live alone.

TV Licence Discounts

There are currently several discounts available on TV licence fees depending on your age and situation. People aged 75+ can get a TV licence for free, this covers you and whoever you live with regardless of their age. You can get a short term licence if you are 74 that covers you until you are 75.

A 50% discount is available for people who are severely sight impaired or blind.

If you live in a care home and watch TV in your own accommodation (not in a common area or communal living room), you can get a Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) licence which costs £7.50.

Discounts for TV licences are not given out automatically and need to be applied for. With this in mind, if you have paid the full price for a TV licence but think you are eligible for a discount you can apply for a refund by contacting TV licencing.

Attendance Allowances

This allowance applies to people over the State Pension age who have a disability or an illness that means they require additional help at home, whether that is help with personal care or supervision.

The Attendance Allowance rate for April 2019 – April 2020 is separated into two depending on the requirements. There is a lower rate of £57.30 for people who require help during the day or during the night and there is a higher rate of £85.60 for people who require help during the day and during the night, or are terminally ill. This allowance can be a huge help and is tax free. The attendance allowance won’t reduce any other income you receive and may help you to receive other benefits. The eligibility of this is not based on your income or savings, it is based on your age and health.

Carers Allowances

If you are caring for someone you may be eligible for this allowance. You may not consider yourself a carer and still be able to receive this. You can apply for a carers allowance if you:

  • Spend 35 hours or more a week caring for a disabled person
  • Care for someone who receives Disability Living Allowance (higher or middle-rate), Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance.
  • Earn less than £120 a week
  • Are not in full-time education

Carers allowance is worth £64.60 per week.

Dealing with Bereavement (Payments & Allowances)

Bereavement benefits are available to people who have lost their spouse or civil partner. These benefits can help to ease any financial worries that are being faced and are available whether you are in work or not.

As of 6 April 2017, there is a new bereavement support available called Bereavement Support Payment. This is a lump sum of £2,500 (or £3,500 if you have children) followed by £100 monthly instalments for 18 months (this is increased to £350 if you are eligible for Child Benefit). These bereavement payments are disregarded when it comes to calculating entitlement to means-tested benefits.

If the bereavement occurred before 6 April 2017, the available allowances are:

  • Bereavement Allowance – this is a weekly payment for one year. The amount you get is dependent on your age and the National Insurance contribution record of your partner.
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance – this is an allowance that is paid if you have dependent children. The amount paid depends on the National Insurance contribution record of your partner. The standard weekly rate for a Widowed Parent’s Allowance is £117.10 and is taxable.
  • Bereavement Payment- this is a £2,000 lump sum that is tax-free.

Benefits for Seniors Summary

As you can see, there are many benefits available for pensioners. If you are in a situation where you are financially struggling, there is a very good chance that some kind of support is available and we hope this guide helps to point you in the right direction for that assistance. Even if you do not require any assistance now, you may be able to enjoy some of the benefits we listed above anyway (e.g. a new boiler, better loft insulation, discounted energy bills) and it is good to know what benefits exist should you need them further down the line. Being aware can also help you avoid paying for things you could be getting for free, for example bus travel or a TV licence. With millions of elderly people struggling with their finances, knowing what help is available is vital.

Living with Sensory Overload

sensory overload

The hustle and bustle of modern life can be too much to cope with at times and can cause what is known as sensory overload. Sensory overload can have a huge impact on a person’s day to day life, it occurs as a response to too much sensory stimuli at one time, the triggers themselves vary for different people but could be any kind of sensory input, for example; bright lights, strong smells or loud noises. The stimuli may be something that others do not even notice or have no reaction to, but people with sensory overload are unable to process all of the information at one time making the situation intolerable. In this article, we are going to take a look at the signs of sensory overload, common triggers and how to help the situation.

What is Sensory Overload?

When there is more sensory input than your brain and nervous system can process at one time it causes sensory overload. When someone is experiencing this it means they cannot cope with the amount of sensory stimulation at that moment and will often remove themselves from the situation if possible or try to stop the input by covering their eyes/ ears etc. This can happen when there is a lot going on to the point where it is intolerable, confusing and causes anxiety. Sensory overload is something that can affect everyone, the triggers vary from person to person and some people are more sensitive to it than others.

There are associations between sensory overload and a variety of conditions including autism, ADHD, PTSD and sensory processing disorder. This is something we will take a closer look at later.

Sensory Overload in Children

Sensory Overload is often associated with children but adults can suffer from it too. It is more commonly seen in young people as they are still developing and learning how to process different sensory input. A child who is experiencing sensory overload may display very strong reactions and at times, it can be difficult to recognise the reasons for the outbursts. Recognising the signs of sensory overload in your child will help in managing and preventing it from occuring. Discussing ways for your child to explain and deal with the feelings of sensory overload will help them to recognise and cope with the situation too.  Some children benefit from working with an occupational therapist, an occupational therapist can help a child (or adult) identify and manage their triggers.

If the sensory overload is occuring frequently it may be a symptom of another condition. If you are concerned or unsure, speak to a doctor who will be able to help with diagnosis, advice and treatment.

Signs of Sensory Overload

Although symptoms vary for different people, these are some of the most common signs of sensory overload:

  • Irritability
  • Discomfort
  • Inability to focus
  • Urge to shield eyes/ ears/ face from sensory input
  • Over-excitement
  • Anxiety, nervousness, stress, or fear
  • Sudden mood change
  • Crying
  • Glazed over look/ falling asleep unexpectedly
  • High sensitivity to fabrics/ tags/ textures

Conditions Associated with Sensory Overload

As we mentioned, anyone can experience sensory overload. There are also links between it and certain health conditions. The most commonly associated conditions are listed below:

  • Autism – people with autism experience sensory information differently, this is often linked with hypersensitivity and as a result, sensory overload is more likely to occur.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – as someone with ADHD may not be as aware of the sensory input around them, they may not realise that they are being overwhelmed until it is too late and they are experiencing symptoms of an overload. Sensory information will be battling for the brain’s attention which can contribute to sensory overload.
  • Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – both of these conditions may also increase the likelihood of sensory overload as stress and anticipation can make the sensory input feel more intense and contribute to sensory overload. As people with sensory overload can become anxious about everyday activities it can be mistaken for an anxiety disorder, and vice versa. It is important to find out what the root cause of the issue is as this will help you to more effectively treat the problem.

There are reports of sensory overload being more common for people with conditions relating to sensory processing and nerve impulses too. People with Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder may also experience sensory overload as a symptom.

Potential Causes & Common Triggers

The triggers will vary from person to person as each individual has different sensory overload experiences. Due to this, there are countless possible triggers and scenarios. However, we have listed some of the more common triggers people experience. This may help you to identify what is causing you or your child’s sensory overload, an important step to avoiding or preventing it in the future.

Touch

  • Scratchy, uncomfortable clothing material
  • Greasy or strong fragranced skin products
  • Physical touch – being patted, hugged, poked
  • People accidentally touching you
  • Touching unusual things

Sound

  • Loud work environment
  • Sound of footsteps when people walk around
  • Loud music
  • Several people talking at once
  • Sound from multiple sources
  • Hand dryers in public bathrooms
  • Sirens/ traffic

Smells

  • Deodorants, skin care products, cleaning products with strong fragrance
  • Spices
  • Strong aromas
  • Candles
  • Perfumes

Sight

  • Bright lights
  • Visual clutter
  • Crowded places
  • Strobe lights
  • Busy/ multicoloured displays
  • Unfamiliar surroundings

Taste

  • Textures of certain foods
  • Feeling of a toothbrush
  • Spices
  • Strong/ unpleasant tastes

How to Help

Sensory overload is becoming increasingly common in our fast-paced society but not only that, the causes are also getting harder to avoid. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent sensory overload. The quickest way to ease the symptoms is to remove yourself from the situation and give yourself a break from the sensory input, but we know that is not always an option so let’s take a look at a few other ways to lessen the symptoms.

Learn the triggers

By identifying the sense triggers you will be able to find ways to lessen their effects or even avoid them. Learning what it is that triggers sensory overload may take time but recognising the similarities in situations can help you to understand the cause. Once you know the triggers you can avoid them, understand your limits and take time out to rest before an event or situation you feel may cause sensory overload.

Prepare for situations that could cause sensory overload

When you know the cause of the overload, you will be able to take steps to prepare and reduce the likelihood of being triggered. Asking to close doors to reduce noise pollution, turning the music or lights down or keeping separate from crowds may help avoid too much sensory input at one time. You may choose to wear dark glasses or noise cancelling headphones to help combat too much sensory information. Having some prepared coping strategies can help reduce anxiety and put you back in control of the situation.

It’s not unusual for a combination of factors to trigger symptoms so when you are in a situation that is overwhelming, it may be most effective to remove yourself from the situation altogether in order to reduce the sensory input and give yourself (and your brain) a break.

Keep Well Rested

To help your brain function at its best, try to keep well rested and hydrated. It is also important to give yourself time to recover after experiencing sensory overload. You will probably feel very tired and resting or at least having some time alone will help you to recover.

Treatment of Associated Conditions

If sensory overload is occurring as a symptom of another condition, you may see an improvement by treating the associated condition.

Living With Sensory Overload Summary

There are many things that may trigger sensory overload, particularly in the modern world. For example, a public bathroom with fluorescent lights, automatic hand dryers and cleaning chemicals can be a nightmare for someone who experiences sensory overload. It is important to recognise what it is that triggers the symptoms as this is the best way of moving forward. Once you know what the triggers are it gives control of the situation back to you. You can then find ways that lessen the chances of sensory overload and take steps to prepare for certain situations.

Remember that sensory overload can happen to anyone. Understanding the challenges will help you to deal with them more effectively. If you think your child is experiencing sensory overload, remove them from the situation. Once they are calm, take the time to sit with them and discuss how they are feeling. A doctor or occupational therapist will be able to provide advice and support too.

Cyberbullying: The Full Guide For Parents, Children & Schools

cyberbullying guide

Keeping safe online is extremely important but the increasing popularity of social media platforms combined with kids spending more and more of their time on computers, tablets and smart phones it can feel like an overwhelming situation for parents and teachers. While technology keeps family and friends connected and offers educational and meaningful opportunities, it also has a darker side. Cyberbullying, or online bullying, can happen anywhere at any time but fortunately, there are ways you can safeguard your children from online threats. This guide will help you to understand what cyberbullying is and what you can do about it.

What is Cyberbullying?

Bullying is no longer limited to playgrounds, it is now also happening online. Cyberbullying, or online bullying, is the use of technology to hurt other people. Cyberbullying consists of online contact with the intent of harassing, intimidating, hurting, humiliating or embarrassing the target. It is important to note that cyberbullying occurs among young people. If an adult is involved it may be considered cyberstalking or cyber-harassment which can have legal consequences.

Examples of online bullying include posting embarrassing photos of others online, sending mean messages and spreading rumours.

Online Platforms Used – Social Media

social media

This form of bullying often occurs via messaging apps, social networking sites, gaming sites and chat rooms with popular sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Xbox Live being common places for bullying to occur. Cyberbullying can be anything from sending mean direct messages and group chats, to posting demeaning messages and images for friends or public viewing, to creating pages or groups with the sole intention of upsetting or intimidating others. Some kids even create fake online profiles in order to bully or impersonate others. Cyberbullying can take many forms making it particularly difficult to monitor.

There are some key differences between cyberbullying and traditional bullying, not only is cyberbullying taking place online but it is also:

  • More difficult for adults to detect and intervene in. Bullying in the playground or classroom can quickly be picked up on by teachers or support staff and can be dealt with efficiently and effectively. When someone is being bullied online it is considerably more difficult to spot and the victim may not want to tell an adult for various reasons such as fear or worry.
  • Potentially anonymous meaning a child can bully someone else without being held accountable. Online, there are ways people can bully others while remaining anonymous, this can give the bully a false sense of security where they feel like they can get away with being mean to others. This also impacts the child who is being bullied as they do not know who is bullying them and this can cause isolation between friends.
  • Capable of reaching larger audiences. This means hurtful and negative messages can very quickly be shared and spread between large numbers of people. For example, embarrassing photos can be shared into groups or shared with the privacy set to ‘public’ and this can make the bullied child feel like everyone is against them.
  • Extremely persistent. Technology offers communication lines that are open 24 hours a day. Even a child’s home or bedroom is no longer a safe place from bully’s due to cyberbullying. This can make the situation particularly overwhelming for victims as they may feel as though there is no escape.

Many children who are being bullied online do not want to tell an adult about what is happening. As we mentioned, it is difficult to know when a child is experiencing cyberbullying but there are a few telling signs that you can look out for:

  • Emotional upset during or after using phone, computer or tablet
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Avoiding school
  • Avoiding group gatherings
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • No longer wanting to use phone, computer or tablet
  • Being secretive or protective when it comes to their phone, computer or tablet and digital life
  • Being nervous or jumpy when receiving messages
  • Avoiding talking about activities related to phone, computer or tablet

Online Bullying Statistics

cyberbullying stats

As this topic is not something that is talked about and discussed as much as it should be, some people do not realise the extent of the issue. This is a serious problem that affects many young people on a daily basis. Cyberbullying can lead to increased anxiety, depression and in extreme cases can even lead to suicide. The statistics speak for themselves;

  1. Safety Net: The impact of cyberbullying on children and young people’s mental health found that within the UK, 47% of young people have received intimidating, threatening or nasty messages online. The report also found that there is a connection between intensive social media use and mental ill health, with 38% of young people reporting that social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves.
  2. The Annual Bullying Survey 2017 on 10,020 UK students aged 12-20, found that of those who experienced cyberbullying, 41% developed social anxiety, 37% developed depression and 26% had suicidal thoughts. They also found that Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat were the platforms that users most frequently experienced cyberbullying on.
  3. During a Report Linker survey of 506 13-24 year olds representing the US population, 7 out of 10 individuals said they were concerned about Cyberbullying. During the same survey, 15% of respondents said they would keep the issue a secret while 38% would tell their parents and 27% would tell their friends.
  4. A Florida Atlantic University study using a sample of 5,600 12-17 year olds in the US found that 34% of students had experienced cyberbullying and 70% had rumours spread about them online. 64% of students who experienced cyberbullying said it affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school.
  5. According to a Cyberbullying Research Center study, within the US the percentage of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying has almost doubled between 2007 and 2016 with the figures rising from 18% to 34%.
  6. In the EU, a 2014 EU Net Children Go Mobile Report stated that 12% of the 3,500 children 9-16 year olds had experienced cyberbullying. Of the countries surveyed, the 2014 statistic shows that children in Denmark experienced the most cyberbullying with 21%, closely followed by Romania with 19%, then Ireland (13%), UK (12%), Belgium (7%), Italy (6%) and Portugal (5%).

As you can see, cyberbullying is a huge issue across the globe. With more children using mobile devices (according to Cyberbullying.org, 95% of US teens are online) there has been a rise in the amount of online bullying that is taking place. On top of this, cyberbullying has no geographical limits. The portability, easy access and constant connection brings with it a lot of opportunity for irresponsible use of technology.  Cyberbullying may take place online but the negative impact reaches the real world with great force. It knocks victim’s confidence and leaves them feeling sad, frustrated, depressed and angry.

Bullying Prevention Measures

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In order to prevent cyberbullying, it is important that both you and your child understand what it is. A great starting point is talking about cyberbullying and explaining to your child that if they experience something hurtful online it is considered bullying and it is important that you know about it. For many children, they worry that the technology will be taken from them if they tell their parents about a negative experience. Because of this, it is necessary to express your understanding of the importance of being able to communicate with friends online. This will put their mind at ease should they ever need to approach you about an issue.

It is good to set ground rules that promote cyber safety for your children. Take some time to sit together and discuss the terms of their online use and experiences. Examples of potential rules include;

  • Do not say or do anything online that they would not say or do in person
  • Never share passwords with anyone
  • Discuss what is appropriate for online sharing and what is not
  • Remember that you never really know who you are communicating with online so be very careful with online communications
  • Keep social media account settings to private and only accept friend requests from people they know (establish rules about whether your child can accept requests from friends of friends that they have not met in person)
  • Decide whether you will have access to or monitor the content they share on their social media
  • Set limits for when social media will be used e.g. no computer after a certain time/ during mealtimes etc.
  • Establish a code of conduct where social media will not be used in a negative manner such as to embarrass others
  • Let your child know that they can talk to you if they are being bullied online and their use/ access of technology won’t be restricted. Also, discuss that if your child is the one who is bullying others there will be consequences for this.

Monitoring Your Child’s Online Activity

Monitoring their activity will help you to ensure your child is safe and responsible online. During the discussions of using social media we mentioned above you may have decided it is appropriate for you to have access to their account, texts etc. as a safeguarding measure (younger children may agree to this but many teens are fiercely protective of their accounts and will not be fond of this suggestion). There are also applications you can use to monitor your child’s activity or you may use parental controls through your internet service. It is important to protect and supervise your kids and this extends to their online habits too. Unless you monitor their activities, it is impossible to know what they are seeing or writing when online, you can sit side by side and not know what’s going on with them so pay attention and make sure they are being careful and nice to others.

Discussing Online Safety

Teach your children how to be safe online and ensure they understand the online risks. Key points to discuss include that once they share something online it does not go away, others can save it/ screenshot it/ share it and even if your child deletes it, it may still exist somewhere on the internet. Therefore, it is very important to think before posting and they should only post what they are happy for anyone to see. Discuss the difference between real friends and online friends and how the number of friends they have on social media is not a reflection of popularity. Discuss the importance of self-respect and being a good person online. In addition, discuss the consequences of their online actions as many young people do not feel as responsible for their online actions due to the lack of immediate consequence (according to DoSomething.org over 80% of young adults believe it is easier to get away with online bullying than bullying in person).

The Effects of Being Bullied on Kids

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Bullying in any form causes significant stress and anxiety, cyberbullying is no exception to this. Anxiety, depression, fear and low self-esteem are commonly experienced by those being bullied. This impacts concentration levels and focus, making learning more difficult which can impact school performance and grades. Children being bullied may try to avoid group activities and discussions, may appear to lack motivation and interest and might also try to avoid school altogether.

One of the core differences between bullying and cyberbullying is that there is no ‘safe haven’ for kids who are being cyberbullied as it can happen anywhere, at any time. Many young people are never far from their phones or laptops and while this keeps them connected to friends it also means that bullies can reach them via messaging or social media at any time of day, no matter where they are. This can be a very overwhelming situation to be in.

Another key difference is that some cyberbullies decide to remain anonymous which means the person being bullied may not know the true identity of the bully, although they may have suspicions this can lead to alienation among peers.

Cyberbullying can make teens feel overwhelmed and distressed. It can impact their everyday lives and they may feel unable to confide in an adult or parent about the issue. Earlier we mentioned The Annual Bullying Survey 2017, this survey also found that 25% of those who experienced cyberbullying self-harmed, 20% skipped class, 14% developed an eating disorder and 9% abused drugs and/or alcohol. This demonstrates just how serious the effects of cyberbullying are.

Common Feelings Cyberbullied Kids Experience

  • Feeling Overwhelmed – being cyberbullied can be very overwhelming, particularly in instances where a lot of kids participate in the bullying or where photos and text are shared ‘publicly’. It can feel as though the whole world knows what is going on and this is a very stressful situation which, to the child being bullied, can feel like more than they are able to handle.
  • Feeling Powerless – someone who is being bullied online may feel vulnerable and unsafe. Bullies can contact them whenever and wherever so even the victim’s own home may no longer feel like a safe place. It can feel like the bullies are everywhere and the victims are unable to get away from them.
  • Feeling Exposed – online bullying can feel permanent, kids know that once something is shared it is very difficult to stop or control or remove. This can result in posts reoccurring later on and messages, posts or photos being shared with large numbers of people. This can leave the person who is being bullied feeling exposed and humiliated.
  • Feeling Angry – some people feel angry about being bullied and may wish to retaliate or have some kind of revenge on the bullies. This can worsen the situation.
  • Feeling Unhappy with Themselves – a victim of bullying may doubt their own value. They may experience low self-esteem and this could lead to eating disorders, self-harming, suicidal thoughts, or trying to change themselves in some way in an attempt to avoid cyberbullying in the future.
  • Feeling Isolated – someone who is being bullied online may feel excluded and left out. They may be being purposely left out of conversations and groups. They may experience online bullying but they probably don’t want to turn off their phone or computer because it is their connection to friends. Removing the connection may stop the bullying but can result in worsening the feelings of isolation and seclusion.
  • Feeling Disinterested in Life and/or School – avoiding school or activities may be a way to try to avoid the bullies or may be to avoid seeing people who have seen the content that was shared. Losing interest in interacting with others may also be a sign of depression.
  • Feeling Anxious and Depressed – increased anxiety and depression is quite common in victims of cyberbullying. Being bullied knocks a person’s self-confidence and they may feel anxious about dealing with the bullying on a regular basis. This can result in feeling depressed and hopeless.
  • Feeling Suicidal – there has been links made between cyberbullying and an increased risk of suicide. The constant nature of cyberbullying and the content being shared can result in feelings of hopelessness. Suicidal thoughts may begin to occur as a way to escape the pain the victim is feeling.

What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied Online

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Finding out that your child is being bullied online is a painful experience and you may feel helpless. Here’s what you can do when facing this situation:

First of all, make sure your child is safe and feels safe. They will feel vulnerable so your response is very important. Support them, listen to their feelings without any judgement and demonstrate that you both want the same thing (to stop the bullying).

Next, talk about what has happened. It’s important to be calm and listen without panicking, getting angry or trying to make light of the situation. Work with your children and provide them with support. If there is evidence of the cyberbullying such as screenshots, saved messages etc., you should also save them as proof in case they are needed.

Your knee-jerk reaction may be to take the phone or computer away, but don’t do this. Your child was likely hesitant about approaching you with this issue and this is an opportunity to talk about the problem. Rather than removing their access to the technology, you should look at the applications they are using together in order to move forward, one key thing to do is ensure their privacy settings are set as they should be.

If your child didn’t come to you immediately with the issue, don’t get mad at them for this. Instead, be grateful that they have come to you now and re-iterate that they can talk to you about anything. Remember, your child will be feeling a lot of emotions because of the cyberbullying and these may include anxiety, depression and fear.

Reactions to cyberbullying differ depending on the situation, find out if your child has retaliated to the situation. If they have, they may be responsible for cyberbullying others which leads to further conversations about their behaviour and the consequences of this.

Once you know the full extent of the situation, there are several options on how to deal with it. If it is possible to resolve there and then, then discuss this and keep monitoring the situation. Help your child to block and report cyberbullies on their phone and on the social media platforms they use. Showing them how to do this will help them to regain power in a situation they will be feeling helpless in. Depending on the situation, you may want to take the issue to your child’s school and discuss it with their teachers. This is a particularly good idea if the bully is in the same school. Generally, it is not the best idea to approach the bully or the bully’s parents directly and the situation will likely be handled better if dealt with through the school. Discussing cyberbullying with the school is important to help safeguard other children too. The school should have cyberbullying policies in place and will hopefully be actively discussing safety online during classes and assemblies.

The cyberbullying may also be criminal and therefore, if the situation warrants it e.g. if there are realistic physical threats, it may be necessary to involve the local law enforcement.

It may also be necessary to set up appointments with the school counsellor or a therapist in order to help your child work through the effects of cyberbullying.

How Social Media Impacts Bullying

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Social media is one of the main methods of communication for young people. Statista estimates there will be 2.77 billion social media users around the globe in 2019, an increase from 1.91 billion users in 2014.

Social media has its advantages but unfortunately, it also plays a role in cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is present on virtually every social media platform, with it being more prevalent on some platforms than others. During the Young Minds report it was found that 61% of young people had a social media account when aged 12 years old or younger which is younger than the age restriction set by most social media companies (often set at 13 years old). This shows that the age restriction is rarely enforced across many platforms.

According to a news report by Daily Sabah, 20% of social media users are exposed to cyberbullying every day. As such a large number of young people use social media on a daily basis and the majority of cyberbullying takes place on these platforms this brings with it certain expectations and requirements of these companies. Although not currently a legal requirement, increasing pressure is being put on social media companies to play a role in protecting users from harm such as cyberbullying.

When asked during The Annual Bullying Survey, 71% of respondents said social networks do not do enough to prevent cyberbullying and only 6% said social networks are safe with 65% saying it depends, 14% saying no and the rest being unsure. The Young Minds report also found that social networks are failing to tackle cyberbullying and stated that 83% of young people feel social media companies should do more to tackle cyberbullying.

With more pressure being put on these companies, they are being urged to take complaints more seriously, respond more quickly, give young users clear guidelines related to online behaviour and take tougher actions on those who behave inappropriately on the platforms.

Summary – Prevention Measures Parents, Children & Schools

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As cyberbullying is such a broad and varied topic, there are many methods of prevention that can be implemented. Below, we have summarised the core ways parents, children, schools and social media platforms can prevent cyberbullying.

Prevention by Parents

  • Talk openly with your child about the dangers of cyberbullying
  • Let your child know it’s ok to talk to you about issues and that you won’t overreact or take their phone/computer etc. away from them
  • Listen to your child and ensure they feel like they are being heard
  • Monitor your child’s online activities
  • Limit screen time and maximise time with friends and family
  • Make sure your child does not become friends with people online that they do not know
  • Keep up to date with the schools cyberbullying policy
  • Show your child how to block and report bullies
  • Teach your child not to share passwords with anyone
  • Teach your child not to respond to cyberbullying

Prevention by Children

  • Check your privacy settings to keep content private
  • Think before you post – once you share something it cannot be erased even if you delete it, someone else may have screenshots etc.
  • Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know
  • Keep your personal information personal
  • Never share your passwords
  • Do not respond to online bullies
  • Save the evidence of the bullying
  • Speak to your parents or a teacher if you are being bullied online, or if you have witnessed bullying online

Prevention by Schools

  • Establish firm policies regarding the use of technology and unacceptable behaviour
  • Teach kids that the same rules that apply offline apply online too
  • Teach students how to be safe online
  • Openly discuss bullying and cyberbullying in class
  • Supervise students use of on-site computers
  • Encourage students to report online bullying to a teacher or staff member
  • Give students a voice by letting them play a role in decision making e.g. which sites do they find useful and which sites are a distraction and should be blocked when in class
  • Make the most of community resources when necessary
  • Encourage education regarding online safety for all teachers and staff members
  • Make parents aware of the online risks including cyberbullying

Prevention by Social Media Platforms

  • Respond to reports quickly
  • Take complaints seriously
  • Enforce the age restriction
  • Teach young users how to be safe online
  • Take tougher actions on those who disregard the rules

What are the Solutions To Cyberbullying?

solution to cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a complex issue that impacts many young people in a variety of ways. Due to the nature of the online world it can be very difficult to monitor what is going on and young people tend to be particularly private and defensive when it comes to their social media accounts. However, cyberbullying is a very real issue and one that is getting worse as more and more youngsters take to social media.

Powering off, which may be the first-response solution to some, is not the answer. We mentioned this briefly previously due to the isolation that it would bring. Being online has become a very important part of young people’s lives and plays a significant role in their socialising and communications with each other. Therefore, a far more sustainable approach is educating young people about not only the dangers of being online but also how to behave appropriately online.

Educating children, teachers and parents about cyberbullying can help in preventing it and increase the efficiency of handling any issues. Education will also open the lines of communication between youngsters and their parents. Getting the conversation started, whether it’s in the classroom or between parents and their children, is a vital step in dealing with the problem.

It’s not just about knowing the dangers and what to do if you are being bullied online. It’s also important to discuss the consequences of actually being the one bullying someone else. It seems many students feel there is less responsibility when you say something online as oppose to saying it in person, this leads to people saying and posting things they would never actually say in person. By talking about the danger and consequences it can help young people understand that, even online, their words and actions impact others.

Due to the extent and reach that cyberbullying has, there needs to be a multi-layered approach to solving the problem. Schools, parents, students, social media platforms and law enforcement (in some circumstances) all have a role to play in helping to prevent cyberbullying from occurring.

Cyberbullying YouTube Videos

Internet Safety – a short film, this film covers the topics around giving out personal information, how to use your personal photos and maintaining private social media accounts to prevent any malicious behaviour.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (UK Police division) have put together a short film where kids (suited for ages 8-10) share their insights on day to day behaviour around social media, mobile phones and how that impacts behaviour in schools.

We’ve also created an embeddable version of this page in the form of a video that you can share if you prefer to read via video

To embed this video on your site simply copy-paste this URL.

Additional Resources

If you’re looking for more information on eSafety, Cyberbullying & Children’s wellbing in general, here are some useful websites we’ve put together:

ChildNet International – Childnet works to ensure that the internet is a great and safe place for children and young people.

StopBullying.gov – Provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying.

Bullying.co.uk – Whether you’re a child being bullied, a mum struggling with their teenager, or a dad who needs some extra support coping, Family Lives are here for you; on the phone, online and in person through our supportive groups and befriending services.

KidsHealth.org (Nemours) – Nemours is a nonprofit children’s health system. Neil Izenberg, MD, a physician at Nemours, founded KidsHealth.org in 1995. Our goal is to help parents, kids, and teens take charge of their health.

InternetMatters.org – Non-for-profit organisation that has a simple purpose – to empower parents and carers to keep children safe in the digital world. Learn more about why we do, what we do.

Anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk – The Anti-Bullying Alliance is a coalition of organisations and individuals that are united against bullying.

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Disability Financial Support & Assistance Guide

According to the Social Security website, just over one in four 20 year olds will become disabled before they reach the age of 67. Over a quarter of young people will face disabilities in the future, so with this in mind let’s talk about the support people with disabilities are offered. As the financial challenges faced by people with disabilities in the US are greater than those faced by the general population, we have created this guide to help find solutions to these struggles. We have summarized the main types and sources of financial assistance available to disabled people within the US.

According to a 2018 report by the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disabilities, people with disabilities in the U.S. are less likely to be employed and less likely to have private health insurance than people without disabilities. Fortunately, whether it’s medical bills, housing, vehicle modification, or taxes, there are programs and grants available that may be able to offer the financial assistance you require. There are also several benefits available for disabled veterans, which we cover in the second half of this write up.

This guide has been created to help you discover the financial support that is available to you as a disabled person in the US.

Assistance with Medical Bills

There are a few different programs that may be able to assist with medical insurance and the medical bills you are facing. Keep in mind that each program and state has different rules regarding eligibility.

Medicaid & Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

This is a partially federally-funded health care program that provides free or low-cost health coverage for people with limited income, people with disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women. Medicaid works by sending direct payments to health care providers such as hospitals and doctors so this is not an income that is paid to you directly. The eligibility requirements vary from state to state but more specific information on eligibility and how to apply can be provided by your State Department of Health.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides help with children’s medical costs in situations where the family are unable to afford health insurance or do not get health insurance through their work. CHIP provides coverage through Medicaid and through separate CHIP programs. This is funded by states and the federal government so states have the flexibility to design programs within federal guidelines meaning benefits and offerings vary between states.

Medicare

This is a federal health insurance program that helps with health care costs, however it does not cover all expenses or the cost of long-term care. Medicare is available for citizens over the age of 65 and people with certain disabilities. The Medicare Program consists of two main parts; Part A which helps pay for hospital stays and certain home healthcare, Part B which helps pay for specific services such as medically necessary physician visits, outpatient hospital visits, home healthcare costs, durable medical equipment and more.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

This is a federally funded program that provides income benefits to people who are disabled and are no longer able to work. You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain period in order to qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. Certain family members may also be eligible to receive these benefits.

Supplemental Security Income

This is a federally funded program that provides income benefits in the form of monthly payments to disabled adults and children with limited income and resources. The benefits ensure your basic food, shelter and clothing needs are met. Unlike the Social Security Disability Insurance, you are eligible for the Supplemental Security Income regardless of whether you have worked and paid social security taxes in the past.

Additional Advice

If you are still unsure or are in need of medical services or assistance immediately, you may find the following beneficial:

  • Free or low-cost medical services are offered by community clinics.
  • The Patient Services Department of your local hospital may be able to help you get onto a charity care program that helps patients who are uninsured and unable to afford their medical bills.

Assistance with Housing

Struggling to pay housing costs can leave people facing poverty and even homelessness, fortunately, there are a number of federal, state and local programs available to help people with disabilities be able to afford housing costs such as rent or homeownership. As with the medical programs, each housing program has its own eligibility requirements.

Renting a Home

If you are looking at renting a home, the following programs may be able to offer assistance to your situation:

Public Housing

This program provides eligible low-income families, elderly people and people with disabilities with state-owned decent, safe and affordable rental houses.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

This Housing and Urban Development program helps to pay the rent for low-income families, elderly people and people with disabilities. This program can help to pay all or part of the rent. The waiting list tends to be long for this housing program.

Non-Elderly Disabled Vouchers

These vouchers can help non-elderly disabled people access affordable housing on the private market or enable non-elderly disabled people who are currently living in nursing homes or other healthcare institutions to transition into the community.

Certain Developments Vouchers

These vouchers provide housing assistance to non-elderly disabled families who do not currently receive housing assistance in certain developments where owners prefer or restrict the occupancy to elderly families. The vouchers cover a few specific types of developments and enable these families to obtain affordable housing.

Additional Advice:

  • Your city or county governments will be able to assist with explaining local housing aid that is available for people with disabilities.

Buying a Home

If you are looking at buying a home, you may find the following programs helpful:

Homeownership Vouchers

These vouchers are offered to families who are assisted under the Housing Choice Voucher program, the Homeownership Vouchers can be used to buy a home and monthly assistance is provided in meeting homeownership expenses.

Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program/ Rural Development Program

Low and moderate-income households are assisted in owning a home in eligible rural areas. The home would be modest, safe and sanitary and applicants may decide to build, rehabilitate, improve or relocate a dwelling in an eligible rural location. The program also offers assistance for homeowners in rural areas regarding home modifications and removing health hazards in order to accommodate a household member with a physical disability.

Independent Living Skills

Renting or owning a house may also mean you are gaining a new level of independence, you may be looking for additional support in order to increase your confidence and skills so you can enjoy living independently. If this is the case, there are a number of state and local independent living centers that can help you develop independent living skills.

You may also need to make some modifications to your home such as ramps or grab bars. This is something your state may be able to offer assistance for. Your state may also be able to assist with housing counseling, locating rental housing and independent living skills.

To find out more about the services offered approach your local independent living center or contact your state.

Vehicle Modification

Having a vehicle that has been modified to your requirements can help provide a sense of freedom, comfort and independency. According to the NHTSA, people with disabilities can often drive safely by making modifications to their vehicles. The number of people adapting vehicles to suit their specific needs has increased thanks to the improvement in technology and the increased availability of this technology.

If you are looking to adapt your vehicle, a good starting point is contacting your state vocational rehabilitation agency. They will be able to direct you to grant and loan programs that may be able to help you cover costs.

As you may already know, a modified vehicle does not come cheap so nonprofit organizations, car insurance, workers’ compensation, vehicle manufacturers and tax assistance are other possible routes to help pay for vehicle modifications depending on your situation. If you are a veteran the Department of Veterans Affairs may be able to help pay for vehicle modifications.

Driver Rehabilitation Specialist

A Driver Rehabilitation Specialist will perform comprehensive evaluations in order to identify the adaptive equipment that is best suited to your requirements and medical condition.

It is worth checking with your state vocational rehabilitation agency, state workers’ compensation official and health insurance company to find sources to cover the cost of the evaluation with the Driver Rehabilitation Specialist.

A Driver Rehabilitation Specialist will also be able to help you find a qualified mobility dealer who will be able to make sure you buy a vehicle that can be modified to your needs and actually carry out the modifications for you.

Savings & Tax

There is now a program available to help disabled people save money without it impacting their eligibility to benefits. Take a look at this savings account and further information on what tax assistance is available below:

ABLE Savings Account

Tax-free ABLE savings accounts are available to eligible disabled individuals and their families. The account means income earned and contributions made will not be taxed. The total contributions to the account can be up to $15,000 a year and contributions can be made by anyone. The ABLE Savings Account allows individuals to have a tax advantaged savings account without impacting their eligibility for a variety of public benefits.

It is worth noting that you can only open one ABLE account and as ABLE accounts are not available in every state you can open an account in any state (keep in mind that each state will offer a slightly different program so there may be a state that offers a program that is better suited to you).

Tax Assistance

Tax assistance and resources are offered to individuals with disabilities by The Internal Revenue Service. These services include the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that offers tax help to people with disabilities free of charge. There are also a range of resources available on the IRS Accessibility website.

Disabled Veteran Benefits

There are various financial services available to veterans and their families. When referring to the disability benefits, many of the programs distinguish between veterans who have a service-related disability and veterans who have a disability that is not service-related.

VA Disability Compensation Benefits

If you are a veteran who is disabled due to service-related injury or illness you may be entitled to a tax-free monthly benefit through this compensation. You may qualify for this benefit for physical conditions and mental health conditions that developed before, during, or after service.

Surviving spouses and dependents of veterans may also be eligible for compensation benefits. The eligibility overview can be seen here.

VA Pensions for Low Income Veterans and Survivors

If you have a disability that is not service-related but you are a veteran you may be eligible for a Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension. These are both tax-free monthly payments based on the financial need of low-income wartime veterans. The eligibility is based on service time, financial need and age/ status of the veteran.

The amount of these pensions is calculated by the difference between the “countable” income of the recipient and the Congress-set annual pension limit.

Aid & Attendance and Housebound Benefit

Those who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for additional assistance if they require ongoing help from another person or if they are housebound. These two benefits are offered separately and you can benefit from only one of these as additional support at a time. Both benefits have different eligibility requirements.

The Aid & Attendance may be added to your monthly pension if; you require the assistance of another person to perform personal functions required in everyday living, you are bedridden, you are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, your eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes.

The Housebound benefit may be added to your monthly pension if you are substantially confined to your home or immediate premises due to a permanent disability.

Adaptive Housing Grants for Veterans with Disabilities

Special housing grants are offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs for eligible veterans. Those with severe, service-connected disabilities may qualify for a Special Housing Adaptation or Specially Adapted Housing grant to make modifications that are needed to live more independently. Modifications may include installing ramps, widening doors and more.

You may be able to get a Temporary Residence Adaptation if you qualify but are currently temporarily living in a relative’s home.

You may also be able to get a Home Improvements and Structural Alterations grant in order to make medically necessary alterations to your home. You may be eligible for this if your disability is service-connected or not.

Vehicle Modifications & Training

Veterans with disabilities may also be eligible for assistance with modifying vehicles through the Department of Veterans Affairs. An Automobile Allowance can help pay for Automobile adaptive equipment or can go towards a vehicle.

You may also be eligible for the Vehicle Modifications program if you are a veteran with a non-service connected disability. This program helps to cover the costs of equipment such as vehicle lifts.

Additional Assistance for People with Disabilities

This guide has outlined the core programs and grants that are offered by the US government. There are also countless organizations that offer help to people with disabilities that may be of interest and benefit. We have listed some of them below, although they may not provide financial assistance they provide excellent resources, services, training and information that you may find useful.

National Council of Disability – the NCD works to promote equal opportunity and empower individuals with disabilities. They advise the President, Congress and other federal agencies regarding practices, policies, procedures and programs that affect disabled people within the US.

National Disability Right Network – the NDRN are the largest providers of legal advocacy services for people with disabilities in the nation.

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services – works with families and individuals with disabilities to improve results and outcomes via support programs.

Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity – can assist with answering questions and offering resources regarding housing rights for people with disabilities. They can also help answer questions regarding the responsibilities of housing providers in accordance to federal law.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped – offer a free loan service of braille and talking books to be enjoyed by people with low vision, blindness or a physical disability that prevents reading or holding books.

National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability – works with people with disabilities to encourage healthier lifestyles and participation in physical and social activities.