Serious mental impairment and Council Tax disregards

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by jenniferpa, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    Hi, I posting this on this board to see if anyone has any experience with this. While my DM has not had an official diagnosis of vascular dementia, she has had 3 strokes and to all intents and purposes vascular dementia accurately describes what she has.

    She is the owner/occupier of a extra care suite/flat attached to a nursing home. As it is a separate dwelling she is assessed for council tax (band A) while she gets the discount for living alone, I really feel she should be entitled to the disregard for serious mental impairment, From what I have read, and what the council told me, provided she gets the full AA based on mental incapacity (which she does) all she then needs is a certificate signed by her GP. Unfortunately, he has decided that her mental impairment isn't serious enough, and will not sign.

    Has anyone here successssfully applied for a disregard, and/or been turned down by their GP? There doesn't seem to be any way around this, except seeing another doctor. I was wondering if a memory clinic would be more inclined to certify this (I'm planning on getting a referral anyway).

    So - what constitutes a serious mental impairment? The GP seems to be going by the definition in the Mental Health Act for involuntary commital. If his interpretation is accurate, then she's not entitled, but I do not believe that his interpretation IS accurate. Specifically, she is not a danger to herself or others within the meaning of the act. As an example she understands why you shouldn't leave the gas on after cooking (she doesn't actually have gas, but you know what I mean) but she would not remember to turn it off, and as far I can see, to be seriously mentally impaired within the meaning of the act you need to be unable to understand that fact, or show that you actively intend harm.

    Any advice or pointer would be very welcome.

    Jennifer
     
  2. Lynne

    Lynne Registered User

    Jun 3, 2005
    3,433
    Suffolk,England
    Based on Mum's recent memory clinic assessment by a consultant (her first), I would say go by that route. Ask your GP (FIRMLY) for a referral, and soon. Mum's consultant was very helpful and informative about registering EPA, applying for attendance allowance etc. but then geriatric mental health care is his specific field. If your GP isn't interested, (or not knowledgeable enough, but won't admit it) by-pass him to someone who is.

    Best wishes
     
  3. Bets

    Bets Registered User

    Aug 11, 2005
    100
    South-East London, UK
    Hi Jennifer,

    Just wanted to post a reply but can't offer much help, I'm afraid. My husband is disregarded by the council for council tax purposes on the basis that he receives AA and his GP confirmed that he suffers from a serious mental impairment. Have you contacted the CAB, or the Alzheimer's Society helpline, as they may have advice on how you can challenge the GP's decision? I must admit that I am a bit gobsmacked that the DWP considers your mother's condition warrants Attendance Allowance but the GP doesn't. Sounds like he need a refresher course on dementia! Hope you can sort this out.

    Bets
     
  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    Dementia diagnosis would probably not be a problem, it's the phrase serious mental impairment he seems to be having difficult with, with emphasis on the serious. Mummy is adept at masking her difficulties, and that little quiz GP's trot out to determine memory functioning (count backwards in 10s from 100, who's the prime minister) seems designed to assess her strengths not her weaknesses (her ability to work with number has been unaffected, and her memory of pre-stroke events is still pretty clear). If they asked her what she had for lunch, where she lives, how old she is, how to turn on the radio, where her bedroom is (when she's sitting in the living room) etc. they'd get a different picture. One thing that I disturbing is her lack of recognition/understanding that all the aid she gets is paid for by her. She'll say, "you know it's good the way we're provided with all these services" and I'll say "well, you're paying for them" and everytime it's a complete surprise to her. She has always had a handle on her money, and where it goes, but not any more. "I don't spend much of my income" is another favourite, because she can't remember that, in fact, with the council tax, we're spending down her savings at the rate of about £400 a month. I'm not objecting to that (what are savings for, after all). I just want to make sure that she has enough money for the rest of her life. It's just words, I suppose. At least she doesn't accuse me (or anyone else. for that matter) of stealing from her, although she will ask me what happened to this or that, this or that being things she had as a child (she seems to float backwards and forwards in time, occasionally confusing me with her sister).

    I will contact the helpline by email - hopefully they will be more use than the stroke helpline (hopeless).

    Jennifer
     
  5. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    O.K. I'm still trying to sort this out. I had a response from the helpline but it was essentially just restating what I already knew. The only thing that gave me slight pause was the implication in the leaflet that dementia is, by definition, "serious mental impairment". Do you think this is true - as we know, dementia comes in a variety of stages? Is every case of dementia eligible? Beacuse if so, all I have to do is get the GP to diagnose dementia, and then I can persuade him to sign the form. I suspect I my difficulties may be due to the fact that he sees people with much more severe impairments than my mother (he's the GP for the entire nursing home) but none of those people are going to be applying for Council Tax disregards.
     
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Registered User

    Jul 3, 2005
    268
    Bucks
    Own experience

    I was helped with this by my Mum's local AS branch, and would recommend you contact them if you have one (they basically did all the paperwork bar the doctor's signature). My Mum's CPN was also very helpful and organised getting AA paid. Can't understand how she's been validated as deserving one and not the other, and wish you well in trying to sort this one out.
     

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