Social Security Experience Panels: benefit take-up – visual summary

Visual summary of findings from research with Social Security Experience Panels members about their experiences of accessing the benefit system.

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Reasons to think twice about applying for benefits

We asked participants whether they had ever thought twice about applying for a benefit that they were entitled to.

Participants described a number of factors that had made them think twice about applying for a benefit

Many said it was hard to fully recognise and accept that they needed additional support. Some felt that applying for a benefit meant admitting personal limitations both to oneself and society.

“The first thing you have to do is face up to your own disability. So it’s confronting the fact that you aren’t the same as a healthy individual of the same age. It’s a personal thing that makes it difficult in regards to your own identity.”

Other participants said that they had to build up courage before applying or challenging a decision. Building up courage was particularly stated by participants who were making applications with a hidden disability.

“There’s an awareness that it’s not straightforward. You know it is a long process. The thing that stops me then is all the negative experiences that other people have had.”

Others said they had concerns about claiming benefits and their privacy. Some felt that once they were claiming a benefit, they would feel like they were being watched.

“Everyone is watching their backs on benefits. It’s not a comfortable existence in the benefits system, you’re constantly watching in all directions. You don’t want people around you to know, you don’t want to go places.”

Participants also felt that stigma and social pressure had made them less likely to apply for what they were entitled to. Many participants said that they did not want judged by others for taking ‘handouts.’

“That perceived stigma is also why most people who apply for something wait until they need it rather than when they’re eligible.”

“Pride. For somebody like myself or other accountants, lawyers, they don’t want to ask for a “hand out”. I don’t know how prevalent this is in stopping people from applying but it delays the process.”



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