It has recently been widely reported that people who snore could be entitled to £156 in benefits. This is misleading.
The claim appears to have been published first by Kent Live, on 11 August, in a story headlined: “DWP £156 benefit could be available for people who snore.”
It has since been republished by many of the paper’s sister publications owned by publisher Reach plc, including the Mirror, the Express, Chronicle Live, Wales Online, Birmingham Live, Essex Live and Aberdeen Live.
Versions of the article have also been published by many other titles, both regionally and nationally.
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Snoring doesn’t mean you’re entitled to PIP
The claim that people could be entitled to benefits (in this case, Personal Independence Payments, or PIP) is based on the premise that snoring could be an indication of a serious condition—sleep apnoea (also spelt ‘apnea’).
Sleep apnoea is where a person’s breathing starts and stops during sleep, and the most common form of the condition is called obstructive sleep apnoea. Symptoms can include snoring, but also making gasping, snorting or choking noises and waking up a lot during sleep, as well as feeling very tired during the day and experiencing headaches when you wake up.
But there are also many reasons someone might snore that have nothing to do with a more serious underlying condition.
Eligibility for PIP doesn’t just depend on having a health condition, but how that health condition affects your everyday activities.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) told Full Fact that whether or not someone would be able to claim £156 a week if they snore “entirely depends on someone’s condition and how it affects their life”.
They added: “You don’t receive PIP just by having a condition, it’s how that condition affects your everyday life.”
The claim of £156 is also based on the upper limit for PIP. Therefore, someone would only be eligible for this amount of PIP for sleep apnoea if it severely affected their ability to do “daily living” tasks such as eating, drinking, washing, dressing, communicating and socialising, as well as their mobility.
How many people claim benefits for sleep apnoea?
The Kent Live article states: “There are currently 2,217 people across the UK claiming support through Personal Independence Payment for sleep apnea and conditions of the upper respiratory tract.”
These figures come from the DWP’s own statistics, which show how many people were claiming PIP as of April 2022, and break these numbers down into individual characteristics such as age band, local authority and “main disability”. The exact figure differs slightly depending on how a person uses the DWP’s statistics tool, in order to prevent individuals being identified via the data.
Of these, only 1,305 were claiming with obstructive sleep apnoea as their main disability. More than 900 people included in Kent Live’s total actually had other, or as yet unknown, conditions affecting the upper respiratory tract.
A spokesperson for Reach said: "The conditions were grouped together as any of them can cause snoring (and are known to do so), and the article makes clear the potential to receive PIP is dependent on the condition."
Image courtesy of Andisheh A