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Six-month rule ‘outdated and hurting the most vulnerable’

3rd July, 2019

Law Centre NI has welcomed a new report from the Westminster All Party Parliamentary Group on Terminal Illness that looks at the legal definition of terminal illness. The report looks at how the law determines a terminal illness and recommends a change in the law to the so-called ‘six-month rule’.

As the law currently sits, those who are living with a terminal illness but who are not able to obtain a six month prognosis from their clinician cannot have their access to benefits fast-tracked, waiting longer for decisions and being subject to assessments.

Law Centre NI previously submitted a response to the All Party Parliamentary Group’s inquiry into the Legal Definition of Terminal Illness. A copy of the response can be found here.

A spokesperson from Law Centre NI said: “The Law Centre strongly welcomes this report. It adds weight to the overwhelming opinion from clinicians that the ‘six-month rule’ is outdated and hurting the most vulnerable. It also builds on the Independent Review of PIP in NI carried out on behalf of the Department for Communities in June 2018 by Walter Rader which recommended that the clinical judgement of a medical practitioner should be sufficient to allow special rules to apply.

“This Report shines a light on the impact of the ‘six-month rule’ on the mental health of terminally ill claimants. As the law stands people can miss out on receiving benefits due to the difficulty clinicians have in predicting a six month prognosis with certainty.”

For specialist, free and independent legal advice or assistance on this issue you can contact Law Centre NI’s dedicated advice lines on (028) 9024 4401.