Benefits and disability: ‘I’ll never cohabit again, to protect myself’
Moving Day, new home, Valentine's Day, unpacking boxes, newlyweds concept. Couple Celebrating Moving Into New Home With wine.

Benefits exist to support people in times of need. But for some disabled people, household means-testing has led to benefits being taken away making them uncomfortably reliant on their partner and in debt due to the extra living expenses disabled people incur. Rachel Charlton-Dailey finds some people have vowed never to marry or cohabit again.

Emma moved out of her home and into his. She was excited but living together meant that her income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was immediately stopped.

ESA is granted to adults who struggle to find work because of illness or disability.

Emma, who has fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis, and a visual impairment, is unable to work and received £114.10 a week when she lived alone. But when she moved in with her boyfriend, their income and savings were taken into consideration jointly, meaning Emma no longer qualified.

From that point onwards, she was expected to rely financially on her partner.

“I never wanted him to support me but being ineligible for benefits put me in a vulnerable position,” she says.

Read more on the BBC.

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