The Special Rules allow dying claimants to access fast-track benefits (Image: PA)

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Dying benefit claimants will no longer have to show they have six months to live as cruel benefit rules are finally axed.

Special Rules for Terminal Illness will be reformed in a victory for campaigners, two years afters ministers admitted they were not fit for purpose.

But the changes will only start taking effect next year, meaning thousands more will die before they happen. Ten people a day die while waiting for a decision on a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim.

The Special Rules allow dying claimants to access fast-track benefits.

But rules currently say claimants must get their GP to fill out a form confirming they can “reasonably be expected” to die within six months.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has now confirmed the arbitrary six-month rule will be scrapped and eligibility will be widened to those who might be expected to die within 12 months.

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Doctors will have discretion and be supported by “a realistic and straightforward definition”, the DWP said.

Changes will begin with Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance next year.

Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment will then be updated “when parliamentary time allows”.

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “Being diagnosed with a terminal illness is devastating and this change will increase much needed support for people who are nearing the end of their lives.

“The new 12-month approach will ensure people get the financial help they need as quickly as possible in the most challenging of times.

“We have carefully considered the best approach and I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to our work in reaching this outcome.”

Charities Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association had long campaigned for the move, saying thousands of people had died waiting for reform.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of Marie Curie, said: “We are glad that the DWP has listened to the doctors, charities and MPs who have called for the six-month rule to be scrapped, listened to the 55,000 people who signed a petition calling for change, and listened to the terminally ill and bereaved who have fought to be treated with respect by the benefits system.

"This is a significant step forward for compassion and common sense in the benefits system. Marie Curie believes that everyone has the right to the best end of life care and support.

"People living with terminal illness have waited a long time for this announcement, we now need the change to be enacted in law as quickly as possible."

Sally Light, chief executive of the Motor Neurone Disease Association added: “This is a victory for the hundreds of campaigners across the country who have worked tirelessly alongside the MND Association urging the Government to change the rules.

“Now the recommendations must be implemented quickly to ensure no more people already facing the most difficult time of their life have to wait to claim the support they not only desperately need but are entitled to.”

This breaking news story is being updated.