Scotland’s new adult disability benefit has been opened in three pilot areas.
People living in Dundee City, Perth and Kinross, and the Western Isles, will be able to apply for the payment.
It will be open for those who are disabled, have a long-term health condition, or who have a terminal illness, and are over the age of 16.
The Adult Disability Payment will be administered through Social Security Scotland.
It will replace the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), currently delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Further council areas will be introduced in phases until Adult Disability Payment is rolled out nationwide on August 29 this year.
People with ongoing awards of PIP and Disability Living Allowance do not need to make an application for Adult Disability Payment.
Their awards will transfer to the Scottish social security system automatically from this summer.
Social security minister Ben Macpherson pledged that the system being developed is one that is “rooted in trust”.
And he indicated that the Scottish Government is taking a “positive and compassionate” approach to delivering disability assistance.
“Social security is a human right and none of us know when we might need it – it is a shared investment to help build a fairer society, together,” he said.
“We are developing a system that is rooted in trust to make sure people can access the support that they are entitled to.
“Launching this first Adult Disability Payment pilot is a significant milestone, as we start to deliver our biggest and most complex benefit.
“We are taking a positive and compassionate approach to delivering disability assistance, centred around our principles of dignity, fairness and respect.”
Macpherson explained that claimants will not be subject to assessments or “degrading” examinations in accessing the payment.
“We know people have found applying for disability benefits stressful in the past,” he said.
“That is why we have listened to their experiences and have designed our service to work for people, not against them.
“We are ensuring that accessing Adult Disability Payment is as straightforward as possible and we will always start from a position of trust.
“Importantly, in the Scottish system no one will be subject to Department for Work and Pensions style assessments and we will never use the private sector to carry out health examinations.
“There won’t be any degrading functional examinations, such as asking a client to ‘touch their toes’.
“These changes have been welcomed by those with lived experience, who we have worked with to design this benefit.”
The minister said that the priority will be to make the right decisions first time.
“People will only be invited to a consultation on occasions when we require more information so we can make a decision,” he continued.
“This will be a conversation with a health and social care professional to understand how an individual’s disability or health condition impacts them.
“We are committed to giving people timely decisions, but our priority is making the right decisions first time and sometimes this may take a bit longer.
“This will reduce the need for people to go through a redetermination or appeal.”
Macpherson added: “Adult Disability Payment is there to support people to live well and provide security at the most difficult of times.
“I would encourage those who think they could be eligible to check and apply.”