Benefits & Entitlements
It is something of a jungle pathway to determine benefits and entitlements. Different processes and rules may apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and individual circumstances will affect the amounts available. The details below should help to give you a starting point of what may be available and where to find further details. We claim no expertise in this area. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau www.adviceguide.org.uk are a good source of help. Macmillan Cancer Support also offer detailed guidance http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Get_Support/Financial_help/Financial_help.aspx
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). For those in employment, this is paid for the first 28 weeks of illness by the patient’s employer to those under 65 unable to work for 4 days or more as long as they are earning more than the National Insurance lower earnings limit. Patients can self-certify for the 1st week and thereafter require a Form Med3 from the doctor (GP or hospital doctor).
Incapacity Benefit (IB). Self employed patients may be able to claim IB if under 60 and they have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions. A Form Med3 is required from the doctor (GP or hospital doctor).
Note 1: After 28 weeks SSP and IB claimants must undergo an assessment. Claimants are sent a form which the doctor needs to sign.
Note 2: Patients not eligible for SSP or IB may be entitled to Income Support (IS)
Note 3. Where a patient has a terminal illness, claims should be made under “special rules” with the doctor completing a form DS1500 to gain rapid processing and the highest rates.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Designed for those under 65 with chronic illness, it is not means tested. It is to cover those whose daily activities are affected for 3 months with an expectation that the situation will continue for at least a further 6 months. Claims may be made without waiting 3 months– collect form from Post Office or local benefit office. www.direct.gov.uk/disability (England, Wales, Scotland) www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/ssa.htm (N. Ireland)
The DS1500 form allows patients access to the DLA for those of working age and Attendance Allowance for pensioners at the highest rate without delay. The DS1500 is filled out by a doctor or specialist nurse to give details of the patient's condition without specifying a prognosis. The Benefits agencies determine eligibility but are unlikely to refuse any patient with CUP (although they may review it, usually after many years). The patient needs to fill in their application form (with the help of a benefits advisor).
Attendance Allowance (AA) - For those over 65 not permanently in hospital or local authority accommodation whose daily activities are affected for 3 months with an expectation that the situation will continue for at least a further 6 months. Claims may be made without waiting 3 months. Amount is dependent on incapacity. Collect form from Post Office or local benefit office. www.direct.gov.uk/disability (England, Wales, Scotland) www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/ssa.htm (N. Ireland)
Low income patients
Housing benefit – contact your local authority
Council tax benefit – contact your local authority
Social fund payments – Jobcentre plus www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk
HMRC Tax credits - Patients who are working with low income may be entitled. www.hmrc.gov.uk
(The information provided here is based on Support for Cancer Patients by Chantal Simon in InnovAiT 2008 1: 126-133; doi:10.1093/innovait/inn002).