Terminal illness

A person is defined as "terminally ill" if at that time they suffer from a progressive disease and their death in consequence of that disease can reasonably be expected within 12 months.


Section 82 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 provides that - 

(2) A person to whom this section applies is entitled to the daily living component at the enhanced rate and [the required period conditions for daily living component] do not apply to such a person.

(3) [The required period conditions for mobility component] do not apply to a person to whom [terminal illness] applies.

(4) For the purposes of this section a person is 'terminally ill' at any time if at that time the person suffers from a progressive disease and the person's death in consequence of that disease can reasonably be expected within 12 months.

Source: section 82 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, and article 87 of the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015 (SI.No.2006/2015 (NI.1)) in Northern Ireland.

NB - in Scotland, adult disability payment is replacing personal independence payment and the definition of terminal illness is found in regulation 26 of the Disability Assistance for Working Age People (Scotland) Regulations 2022 (SSI.No.54/2022) which provides that an individual is to be regarded as having a terminal illness if it is the clinical judgement of an appropriate healthcare professional that the individual has a progressive disease that can reasonably be expected to cause the individual's death. See also Social Security Scotland's guidance Special rules for terminal illness for Adult Disability Payment and Chief Medical Officer Guidance on Benefits Assessment under Special Rules in Scotland (BASRiS).

Case law

Commentary: The High Court in Northern Ireland ruled in a judgment delivered on 7 July 2020 ([2020] NIQB 53) that the statutory framework for special rules claims for terminally ill PIP claimants in force at the time - that is maintained in Northern Ireland in parity with DWP provision in Great Britain - was discriminatory as a result of the difference in treatment of terminally ill claimants who could not reasonably meet the six-month criterion to claim. However, the NI Court of Appeal subsequently overturned the ruling in [2021] NICA 46.  | Add commentary or suggest an edit.