Skip to main content

The impact benefits processing delays are having on mesothelioma patients and the legal support available to those who've been exposed to asbestos

Research from the charity Mesothelioma UK has found that processing times for benefits applications from those with a life-limiting illness has doubled from 24 days in 2022 to 48 days in 2023.

Mesothelioma is a cancer related to exposure to asbestos and predominantly affects the lining of the lungs. The UK has the highest incidence of the disease in the world with around 2,700 people diagnosed each year.

The benefits available to mesothelioma patients

It has been a long-standing agreement that benefits applications, for those suffering with mesothelioma, are fast-tracked. Where a person has been exposed to asbestos through their work, they're entitled to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). They're also entitled to a lump sum payment from the Government under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 (PWCA) or the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme (2008).

The current rate of IIDB where a person has been diagnosed with mesothelioma is £221.50 per week, which can be back dated for up to three months, or the onset of symptoms. The PWCA award amount is payable depending on their age with the minimum payment currently sitting at £16,631.00 for those who are aged 77 or over.

Why apply for benefits?

I've seen first-hand how the payment of benefits can help clients. The lump sum payment can give clients access to equipment and services that may make dealing with their condition, easier. The IIDB payment is paid as a pension, ensuring our clients have a steady and regular income. 

The monies provide some financial security whilst a civil claim is investigated on behalf of each client. We support our clients by applying for the benefits that they're entitled to on their behalf or referring them to Sarah Thomas, benefits advisor for mesothelioma UK. The initial contact with our clients enables us to obtain the relevant work history and asbestos exposure details to support any benefits applications. 

Impact of delays

Those suffering with a life-limiting illness are now facing further stress surrounding their access to financial support, during a time that is already uncertain. 

Any money obtained through benefits allows those suffering with the illness to have access to equipment to help with their condition and provides them with some financial stability during a challenging time. 

With an increase in the amount of claims made by women and the age of claimants becoming younger, some people have to stop work as a result of a diagnosis of mesothelioma. This then has a huge impact on their livelihood. Any money paid in relation to IIDB or the PWCA payment can provide security to individuals where they are no longer able to work.

Liz Darlison, CEO of Mesothelioma UK, said: “We urge the government to take immediate action to address this unacceptable situation, and to ensure that the fast-track process for mesothelioma claims is restored to its original efficiency and effectiveness.”

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting those exposed to asbestos at our dedicated asbestos-related disease claims section. More information about claiming benefits and other payments is also available on our website