Q&A - Benefits and terminal illness

  • Community Manager - Posts: 120
    20/04/2015  14:24

    If you’re terminally ill, or care for someone who is, the benefits system can seem complicated. There are many different types of benefit, paid for all sorts of reasons. So if you're struggling to make sense of it post your questions here.


    Our host Ken Butler will be answering your questions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (21-23rd of April) between 2-4pm each day. You can start posting them now and we'll start answering them tomorrow. Just scroll down to read the answers.


    Ken provides welfare rights advice to Disability Rights UK’s member organisations. He also edits and writes for DRUK publications and its website and undertakes policy work with the DWP.


    Ken’s background in the advice sector spans over three decades, mostly in the area of welfare rights. He currently provides welfare rights advice to Disability Rights UK’s member organisations.


    Thanks

  • 21/04/2015  08:51

    Hi there. My Aunt has been diagnosed with terminal cancer - I've read quite a bit on the Marie Curie website and a few other places, but where is the best place to go to for info on benefits? I've found it quite hard to help her and my Uncle so far. They do receive a few benefits already as they qualify for low income help. Thanks.

  • Posts: 1
    21/04/2015  09:25

    Iv only just found out about my brother, he doesnt have anyone else to help and I don't even know where to start? Please anyhelp would be great.

  • Posts: 2
    Edited by: MarkWilkin - 21/04/2015 14:29

    Question from RowntreeRandom: Hi there. My Aunt has been diagnosed with terminal cancer - I've read quite a bit on the Marie Curie website and a few other places, but where is the best place to go to for info on benefits? I've found it quite hard to help her and my Uncle so far. They do receive a few benefits already as they qualify for low income help. Thanks.



    Hi,


    I’m going to try to answer both your questions together if that’s OK.  


    Unfortunately the benefits system is a bit of a maze and can be hard to navigate particularly if you have little experience of claiming them.


    Very broadly, the benefits system falls into two parts – non-means tested benefits (often based on previous national insurance contributions) and means- tested benefits (based on someone’s income and savings resources).


    There are several benefits for those who are ill or disabled.


    In terms of disability benefits there are two that can be awarded on the grounds that someone has a diagnosis of a terminal illness - Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance (AA).

    PIP can be claimed by those below 65 years of age.

    AA can be claimed by those who are 65 years old and above.


    Both PIP and AA can be awarded under what’s termed ‘special rules’.

    Someone is eligible to claim under the special rules if they are living with a terminal illness and their death ‘can reasonably be expected’ within the next six months.


    If this definition applies to you, it means you don’t have to serve the usual three month qualifying period, your claim is given high priority and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) or the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency (SSA) will try to give you a decision within eight working days.


    Depending on which benefit you claim, you’ll automatically qualify for the:

    • enhanced rate of the PIP ‘daily living component’
    • higher rate of AA


    Depending on the impact of the terminal illness on mobility, you may qualify for the enhanced rate of the moving around component of PIP.


    PIP is a new benefit that is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA). While it is no longer possible to make a new claim for DLA it is still possible for those already receiving DLA to ask for the rate paid to them to be reconsidered on the grounds of terminal illness.


    If you are agreed as meeting the special rules for DLA then you will be automatically be awarded its higher care rate component and may be awarded its higher mobility component.


    DLA, PIP and AA are all non means tested benefits and can be paid regardless of someone’s income or savings.

    Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is the main social security benefit for people whose ability to work is limited by ill health or disability.


    There are two types of ESA: contributory ESA and income-related ESA.


    Contributory ESA is linked to your national insurance contributions.

    Income-related ESA is the means-tested element of ESA. Means-tested benefits are the ones that vary depending on how much or how little money you have coming in.

    Income-related ESA provides for your basic living expenses (and those of your partner, if you have one). It can be paid on its own or as a top-up to contributory ESA.


    Importantly, if you have a terminal illness, again your claim should be dealt with more quickly under its special rules. The DWP or the SSA in Northern Ireland will consider you to be terminally ill if you have a progressive disease and your death ‘can reasonably be expected’ within six months.


    The special rules don’t put an upper limit on how long you live. You can carry on qualifying under the special rules if you live longer than is reasonably expected.


    Those who are eligible for ESA under its special rules are automatically treated as having a limited capability for work related activity and placed in its ‘support’ group. This means that they do not have to face a work capability medical assessment and awarded the highest rate of the benefit.


    So, if you’re told that your death could reasonably be expected at any time in the next five to ten months, you may be able to claim any of the benefits I’ve listed under the special rules. If you live longer than was reasonably expected, you just carry on claiming under the special rules – always assuming that your death can reasonably be expected within six months.


    In terms of more information, a good place to start would be the following two Marie Curie online factsheets –

    https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/money/benefits-entitlements/living-with-terminal-illness

     

    https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/money/benefits-entitlements/living-with-terminal-illness/special-rules

     

    Each also have links to other factsheets where you can find out more about DLA, PIP, AA and ESA.

    Other benefits that might be claimed following a terminal illness might include housing benefit (for help with rent) or council tax support/rate relief.


    Again, Marie Curie have factsheets on both of these –

    https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/money/benefits-entitlements/housing/housing-benefit

    https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/money/benefits-entitlements/housing/council-tax-rate-relief

    If you need further advice about what and how to claim any of these benefits then you should seek independent advice.

    A good place to start is often your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

     

    To find a CAB in your area go to -http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.htm.

    To find a CAB in Scotland go to - http://www.cas.org.uk/bureaux

    Other sources of independent advice can be found in the following Disability Rights UK factsheet -

    http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/getting-advice


    Ken Butler - Disability Rights UK

  • Community Manager - Posts: 120
    21/04/2015  14:45

    Hi Barbara K in addition to what Ken's already said another good starting point is our help page for people who've recently been diagnosed which covers a lot of general questions that people have.


    You or your brother can also give our Support Line a ring on 0800 090 2309 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) if you'd like to talk to someone directly.


    Hope that helps


    Mark 

  • 21/04/2015  15:31

    Thank you!

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