Important definitions

To help you get the result you want when applying for welfare support


I have found during my time helping members navigate the welfare system that there are particular phrases that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) look for in applications.

These words and phrases are what the DWP themselves use to decide whether to award benefits, so by including them in your application, you’ll be speaking in their language – giving you a better chance of success.

If you feel like these key words may help describe your situation then please us them wherever you feel appropriate when completing your application, but make sure you understand what they mean as you may be questioned about it later.

Shaun Clayton, Membership Services Director, PHA UK


Frequent is defined as ‘several times, not just once or twice in a 24-hour period.’ For example: “I frequently experience breathlessness or light headedness when going up and down the stairs.”
Continual does not mean ‘non-stop’, but simply ‘less than continuous’. For example: “I’m continually breathless when I’m up and about making a meal, but fine whilst eating it.”

Supervision/supervised can mean precautionary ‘(in case of’ or ‘safely’) or anticipatory (in case something may happen; for example, blackout trip and fall). It doesn’t mean that someone eliminates the danger; merely that their presence reduces the risk of harm.

Night/day time is defined by when the ‘house’ shuts down. When the last adult goes to bed night time starts, and when the first adult wakes day time begins.

Prolonged is defined as at least 20 minutes. For example: “I experience prolonged palpitations or light headedness (dizziness)”

Repeated means more than once during a period of 24 hours

Significant refers to length of time, not the importance of the occurrence. Experiencing symptoms for a ‘significant’ period of time, for example, means an hour or thereabouts and can consist of one or a number of periods during the day.

Consistently refers to whether you can always carry out a particular activity. For example: “I cannot consistently bath myself without the aid of supervision.”

Reliably refers to whether you can reliably complete an activity. For example: “Ican walk to the shop but I cannot always reliably walk back.” In this case, you may be able to get to the shop one day but because of your symptoms you cannot get back – even if on the previous day you could.

Or: “Today I could cook my breakfast but due to symptoms suffered throughout the day, come dinner time I couldn’t cook my dinner. Therefore, I couldn’t cook reliably and safely.”


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*All information correct as of January 2018*