Council tax discounts for people who have been diagnosed by a doctor as “severely mentally impaired” or SMI are often missed – so we explain who may qualify for the reduction and how to apply
Hundreds of thousands of people could be missing out on council tax discounts – and in some cases, they could get their bill wiped completely.
There is a discount for people who have been diagnosed by a doctor as “severely mentally impaired” or SMI. How much of a discount the person receives depends on if they live with other people – and if they’re successful in their claim, they’ll not only pay less going forward, but they could also be due thousands of pounds in back payments.
Someone could be classed as SMI due to one of the following conditions:
- Dementia (including Alzheimer’s)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Learning difficulties
- Result of a severe stroke
However, this list is not definitive – these are just some examples which may lead to SMI. Other conditions may be applicable. Just having one of these conditions doesn’t automatically mean someone will be classed as SMI. The person will need an official SMI diagnosis from a doctor to apply for a council tax discount.
In England, Wales and Scotland, you must also be receiving one of the following benefits. In Scotland, you can just be eligible for the benefit, but not actually receiving it:
- Incapacity Benefit
- Attendance Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance (higher or middle-rate care component)
- Increase in Disablement Pension (due to constant attendance being needed)
- Unemployability Supplement or Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Income Support (which includes a disability premium)
- Personal Independence Payment (standard or enhanced daily living component)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
In England and Wales you can also be receiving:
- Disability Working Allowance (based on getting Income Support including disability premium)
- Universal Credit (including an element for limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity)
In Scotland you can also be eligible for:
- Tax Credits (including disability element)
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
The maximum 100% discount is given to someone diagnosed as SMI but living alone. If someone is classed as SMI and they are living with an adult carer, that home will qualify for a 50% discount. A single person discount worth 25% is awarded if someone considered as SMI is living with one qualifying paying adult. But if someone is diagnosed as SMI and they live with two or more qualifying paying adults, they don’t get any discount.
To claim the discount, someone will need to contact the council with proof of the diagnosis from a GP. Councils are not legally obliged to backdate claims, as each local authority decides its own policy. It is worth asking.