Mum Fiona learned the ben­e­fit of ben­e­fits

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chil­dren and deal­ing with his con­tact lenses, while he was fail­ing to thrive be­cause he had dif­fi­cul­ties feed­ing and putting on weight.

“I never did any of these things with my older daugh­ter, so I wrote back show­ing the ex­tra things we were do­ing over and above usu­ally look­ing af­ter a baby and they agreed and awarded him DLA.”

Of­ten there is a fear of stigma with ap­ply­ing for so­cial se­cu­rity but Fiona urges peo­ple to recog­nise that they are an en­ti­tle­ment. She said: “If you think you qual­ify – check the rules or ask some­one if you qual­ify – the money is yours by right and can help your in­come im­prove. Claim­ing ben­e­fits can also be about get­ting your Na­tional In­sur­ance stamp paid, or be­ing able to claim a state pen­sion in the fu­ture.

“Some­times get­ting one ben­e­fit opens up a gate to en­ti­tle­ment to an­other ben­e­fit such as be­ing able to ap­ply for a blue park­ing badge, or fund­ing to do an ILA course, dis­counted tick­ets or mem­ber­ship fees or a coun­cil bus pass.

“Ben­e­fits are not a handout and not char­ity – they’re set aside for the rea­sons you ap­ply, whether it’s ill­ness, dis­abil­ity, un­em­ploy­ment, hous­ing or what­ever rea­son.” These are the key mes­sages for the aware­ness-rais­ing cam­paign: ●Find out if you’re el­i­gi­ble for this support ●Make sure you’re get­ting the help you’re en­ti­tled to. So­cial se­cu­rity is an in­vest­ment in ev­ery­one and is there to help peo­ple when they need it.

It is es­ti­mated that more than half a mil­lion (500,000) in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in Scot­land are not claim­ing the ben­e­fits they are en­ti­tled to. Changes in life cir­cum­stances and life events mean any­body could need support at some point in their lives (i.e. it could ap­ply to any of us one day).

Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land can pro­vide fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit www.cit­i­zen­sad­vice.org.uk/scot­land/ben­e­fits/ or call the Cit­i­zens Ad­vice.

Free ben­e­fits helpline on 0800 085 7145.

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