All victims of mesothelioma are entitled to a prompt lump sum payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provided they have not already received compensation in a civil claim.
The DWP pays these lump sums to sufferers under two schemes:
- The Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 (the 1979 Act)
- The 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme (the 2008 Scheme)
For any person diagnosed with mesothelioma on or after 1 April 2010, payments under both schemes will be the same. This is because payments under the 2008 scheme have been increased up to the levels under the 1979 Act.
Since payments under the 2008 scheme are unconditional, it is the better scheme for mesothelioma sufferers and their families to use.
2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme
This scheme is designed to provide prompt payment of a lump sum to all sufferers from diffuse mesothelioma, provided compensation has not been received in a civil claim. Its wide scope contrasts with that of the 1979 Act under which only victims exposed to asbestos as an employee are eligible for a payment, and, even then, only if certain conditions are fulfilled.
The qualifying criteria for the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme are:
- There must be evidence to show that the victim suffers from diffuse mesothelioma
- The mesothelioma sufferer must have been exposed to asbestos in the UK
- The claim must have been made within one year of diagnosis or, in the case of a claim being made by a dependant, within one year of the date of death.
Application after death
Partners and dependants can make the claim. The payments awarded are lower if an application is made after death. Therefore it is usually advisable to apply whilst the sufferer is alive because, even if the DWP only processes the application after death, payment is made at the higher “living basis” rate.
How to apply
The application form is the “Mesothelioma and other lung diseases” form PWC1. It is necessary to complete parts 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8 and, in a fatal case, parts 2 and/or 3 as well. Claimants must provide evidence of diffuse mesothelioma. Normally a letter from a doctor or cancer nurse is appropriate.
Copies of hospital letters, X-ray or scan reports, or biopsy results may also suffice. In a fatal case, a post mortem report or an interim or final death certificate is suitable.
Once the form has been completed, it should be sent with the above medical evidence to:
PWC Team, Jobcentre Plus, Barrow IIDB Centre, Pittman Way, Preston PR11 2AB
Freephone: 0800 279 2322
If, later, a civil claim for compensation is successful, there is no direct repayment of the lump sum to the DWP. Instead the defendant will deduct the sum received from the settlement before it is paid. Before applying under the scheme those receiving means tested benefits should seek advice on the circumstances in which an award might lead their widow or them to lose such benefits.
“Fast tracking” of applications
The DWP aims to deal with applications in mesothelioma cases promptly. Payments are often received within a month of the application.