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Where to get financial advice

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you can ask to see a hospital or community social worker. They can talk to you about your situation and give you advice on benefits. They can also help you deal with debts and will know about special funds you may be able to apply for. Your hospital may also have a welfare rights advisor. Or you can contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB). Their advisors can help with filling out benefit forms. Follow the link or find the CAB in your local phone book.

Benefits Enquiry Line (BEL) - phone 0800 882 200
Textphone for people with hearing difficulties: 0800 243 355
Web site: www.gov.uk/benefits-adviser

The Department for Work and Pensions local offices are called Jobcentre Plus offices. It used to be called the Benefit's Agency. You can find the number of your nearest office in your local phone book. We refer to the DWP on this page, but in your phone book you may need to look under Benefit's Agency, Department for Work and Pensions or Jobcentre Plus.

Each office also has its own textphone number for people with hearing problems. All DWP offices provide their staff with deaf awareness training.

If you need translate for help for someone who doesn't speak English or Welsh, let the DWP office know in advance and they will provide a translator. If you prefer, you can bring your own interpreter.

 

If you are a hospital inpatient

If you normally get Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance, these benefit payments will carry on if you are in hospital for less than 4 weeks. If you're in for longer, they will stop and restart again when you go home.

Remember that when these benefits stop, it may affect other benefits you get. If you get Income Support severe disability premium, or the person that looks after you receives Carers Allowance, these will be affected when your DLA or AA stop.

When working out benefits, the Government link your hospital stays together if they are less than 4 weeks apart. Say, for example, you have been in hospital for 4 weeks (so your benefits have stopped), benefits will restart when you go home. But if you are in hospital again within another 4 weeks, your benefits will stop straight away.

Housing Benefit and the housing costs included in Income Support or Pension Credit all stop after you have spent a year in hospital.

 

If you are part of a same sex couple

After the introduction of civil partnerships for same sex couples, the benefits rules now treat same sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples. So you must claim jointly for welfare benefits, Housing Benefit and Tax Credits. You may find that you are worse off because your partner's income is being taken into account. If you haven't told the benefits authorities that you are in a same sex couple, they may take back any money they think you have been overpaid.

 

Help with prescription costs

Each UK country has separate guidance about health charges. Prescription charges have been abolished in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cancer patients in England do not have to pay prescription charges for any medicines. This applies to people having treatment for cancer, having treatment for the effects of cancer, or having treatment for the effects of current or past cancer treatment.

You apply for a 5 year prescription exemption certificate using form FP92A. You get this from your GP or cancer clinic. You and your GP or cancer specialist need to sign it. The exemption certificate can be renewed as many times as you need. But it is up to you to renew it - you may not get a reminder. 

 

Universal Credit (UC)

This is a new benefit being introduced gradually from April 2013. It will replace

  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit

It will start in a pilot in North West England in April 2013. It will be launched nationally from October 2013. All new claims will have to be for UC from April 2014 and existing claims will gradually be moved over by the end of 2017.

The main differences are that

  • Universal Credit will be paid to people who are working but on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work
  • Most people will have to apply online and manage their claim through an online account
  • Universal Credit is supposed to respond to people's changing circumstances - those on low incomes should get ongoing support as they move in and out of work, rather than benefits stopping and starting and new claims having to be made
  • Some people on low incomes will continue to be paid UC when they first start a new job or increase part time working hours
  • UC will be paid monthly into your bank account
  • Support with housing costs will go directly to you as part of your monthly payment, and not to your landlord

We will continue to update the information below on existing benefits until they are completely phased out.

 

 

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance is a benefit for people who need help with personal care, help with getting around, or both because they are ill or disabled. You have to be under 65 when you claim. To qualify, you may need help getting washed, going to the toilet, getting dressed or have difficulties walking. You must have needed help for at least 3 months and expect to need it for at least 6 months more. DLA is not based on your National Insurance contributions or affected by savings, earnings, benefits or any other income that you have.

From June 2013, DLA is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment.

There are 2 parts to DLA - the care component and the mobility component. You can claim for either or both. If you qualify for middle or higher rate DLA, you may be entitled to a higher rate of Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Tax Credits or Job Seekers Allowance because of your needs.

The care component

You can get this if you need help with personal care. You are entitled to claim if you need help - even if you think there is no one who can give you that help. There are 3 rates of the care component of DLA, low, middle and high. Each rate has different conditions that you must meet.

Low rate is £20.55 per week. You must need help to look after yourself for some of the day, or help cooking a meal. 

Middle rate is £51.85 per week. You must need frequent help during the day or supervision at night.

High rate is £77.45 per week. You must need help or supervision day and night, or be terminally ill.

If you get middle or high rate DLA and have a carer, they may be able to claim carer's allowance.

The mobility component

You can get this if you have difficulty in walking or are unable to walk. There are 2 rates of the mobility component.

Low rate is £20.55 per week. You may be able to walk, but need someone to guide or supervise you most of the time when you go out.

High rate is £54.05 per week. You must be unable to walk or have severe difficulty walking.

If you get higher rate mobility component and use a car either as a driver or passenger, you can apply for a Blue Badge and get exemption from Road Tax.

Please note - if you are terminally ill, you can get the care component of DLA straight away, without having to wait 3 months. Your GP or hospital doctor has to fill in a DS1500 medical report to send in with your claim. You will still need to apply for the mobility component.

You can get a claim pack from your nearest DWP Office. Look for the Benefits Agency (or DWP) in the phone book or by ring the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200 (textphone 0800 243 355) for a DLA claim pack. You can also get the pack or apply on line at www.gov.uk/dla-disability-living-allowance-benefit/how-to-claim

The Disability and Benefits Helpline can help with existing DLA claims. It is part of the DWP, dealing only with disability and carers' benefits.  Call 0845 712 3456  between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

This will replace DLA on 8th April 2013 in parts of northern England and nationally from 10th June 2013. From those dates, new claims will have to be for PIP, not DLA.  If you are already getting DLA, this won't affect you until 2015 or later except if your condition changes or your DLA is due to end and you get a renewal letter. Then you'll have to claim PIP from October 2013.  

PIP is tax free. It can be paid whether you are working or not. There are 2 parts to it, the Daily Living part and the Mobility part. 

The Daily Living part pays £53 a week at standard rate and £79.15 at enhanced rate. You can claim this if you have any difficulty with preparing food or eating, washing, dressing, communicating, managing medicines and making decisions about money.

The Mobility part pays £21 a week at standard rate and £55.25 at enhanced rate. You can claim this if you have difficulty going out or moving around.

You automatically qualify for enhanced rates if you are not expected to live more than 6 months. If not, your rate is worked out following an assessment of your needs. It is paid every 4 weeks into your bank account.

To claim, phone your local JobCentre Plus (DWP) office, who will send you a form to fill in. You may need to have a medical assessment to check how your condition affects you.

 

Attendance allowance (AA)

You can claim Attendance Allowance if you are 65 or over, and need help with personal care because of illness or disability. You must have needed help for at least 6 months, unless you are terminally ill in which case, you can get the higher rate of AA straight away.

This benefit is not based on National Insurance contributions and is not means tested in any way. There are 2 rates of AA for help with personal care

  • A lower rate of £51.85 per week if you need help during either the day or night
  • A higher rate of £77.45 per week if you need help during both the day and night or are terminally ill

You may need to have a medical assessment to check how your condition affects you. Getting AA might increase the amount of other benefits and financial support you're entitled to. You may get extra Housing Benefit or Pension Credit if you have a severe disability. If you are a carer, you may be able to get Carer's Allowance if the person you care for gets AA.

You can get a claim pack from your nearest DWP Office. Look for the Benefits Agency (or DWP) in the phone book or ring the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200 (textphone 0800 243 355). Ask for an Attendance Allowance claim pack and leaflet SD3. You can also apply for AA on line.

The Disability and Benefits Helpline can give information and help with existing AA claims. Call 08457 123456 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

 

Tax Credits

There are two tax credits, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Working Tax Credit (WTC) covers everyone over 16 years old working at least 16 or more hours per week if you care for children, or at least 30 hours per week if you are over 25 and don't. If you are over 60 or an adult with a disability, you have to be working at least 16 hours per week. If you are part of a couple with children, your joint working hours have to be least 24 hours a week, with one of you working at least 16 hours.

Working Tax Credit is paid on top of your net pay. There is no set income limit as it depends on your circumstances, but as a guide, the limit is around £18,000 for a couple without children or around £13,000 for a single person. There are extra allowances to help with childcare or if one of you is disabled. If you are sick short term, you can still be classed as working. So you can receive working tax credit while you are on statutory sick pay (SSP). SSP lasts for a maximum of 28 weeks, so if you are off sick for longer, you can no longer get working tax credit.

Child Tax Credit (CTC) is available whether you are on benefits or not. If your household income is too high, you may not qualify. You can claim for children up to 16, or 20 if they are in certain types of education or training.  Child Benefit will continue and is not affected by the Child Tax Credit. CTC is paid to you as a benefit, rather than being a tax allowance. CTC is paid to the parent who has most responsibility for child care. Usually, this is the mother. You have to renew your claim every year.

To claim either tax credit, you need your P60 from the end of the last tax year, or your accounts or tax returns from that year if you are self employed. A P60 is a statement of taxable earnings. Your employer usually sends it to you automatically at the end of the tax year. The last tax year is the one that ends in the previous March. So if you were claiming in February 2013, you would need to supply your P60 for the tax year April 2011 to March 2012. The tax office needs these papers to work out your earnings for your claim.

The system should be flexible enough for changes in financial circumstances to be dealt with as they happen. But it is important that you tell the HM Revenue and Customs (the Inland Revenue) about any changes. You can do this by phone. You must tell them if your income

  • Went up at all in the previous tax year (the year that your tax credit for this year is based on) and you haven't already told them
  • Goes up during this year by more than £10,000

If you don't give this information in time, you may have to pay some of your tax credit back. The longer you leave it, the more that will be.

If your income is less than it was the previous year, you should report that too. You may get more. You have to do this as soon as possible after your income has gone down because they will only backdate your claim by one month.

It is best to tell HM Revenue and Customs straight away if you have

  • Any loss of income
  • Disability benefit awarded to a family member
  • Decreased or increased your working hours
  • Become unemployed, are off sick or on strike for more than 10 days

Remember - if you already claim housing benefit, claiming tax credit is likely to lower the amount you get from these benefits.

You can claim either of these tax credits by phoning the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900 (textphone 0845 300 3909). Lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm on Saturday.

 

Carer's Allowance (CA)

Carer's Allowance is a benefit for carers aged 16 and over who look after a relative or friend for at least 35 hours a week. The current rate is £58.45 per week, but you may have some of this deducted if you already get other benefits. It is also taxable.

To get CA, you need to be a carer of someone who gets the care component of the Disability Living Allowance at the middle or higher rate, or someone who gets Attendance Allowance. You must earn less than £100 a week after deductions for tax and national insurance. Unfortunately, you do not qualify if you are studying for more than 21 hours a week. Your claim can be backdated for up to 3 months provided the person you are for was getting DLA or AA during that time.

If you have stopped working for the time being, each week you qualify for CA, you will automatically be credited with Class 1 National Insurance contributions. The credits are free and help to make sure you qualify for other benefits in the future such as your state pension. This is called the Carer's Credit.

Please note - you can get your National Insurance stamp paid even if the person you care for doesn't get DLA or AA as long as you get a 'Care Certificate' signed by a health or social care professional, such as a doctor, specialist nurse or social worker. You can also do this if you don't qualify for Carer's Allowance because you are studying.

If the person you are caring for dies, you can continue to claim carer's allowance for 8 weeks after the date of their death.

Carer's Allowance overlaps with some other benefits and the state retirement pension. So if you get the same or more from these you may not qualify. But it is still worth claiming because you may then qualify for Pension Credit or the carer's premium on other benefits.

Finally, remember that getting Carer's Allowance can affect the benefits of the person you are caring for. Check this out before you make a claim. Applying for Carer's Allowance can be complicated so it's worth getting help from a Benefit's Advisor or the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

You can claim Carer's Allowance on line or by post using form DS700, which you can download from the same link.

 

Income Support (IS)

People aged between 16 and pension age can claim Income Support (IS) if they are on a low income, working less than 16 hours a week and not signed on as unemployed. If you have a partner, they must work less than 24 hours a week.

Your income is used to decide whether you qualify for IS. This is called means testing. You must have capital, Any savings or capital you have over £6,000 will affect your claim and if you have over £16,000 you won't get anything. Capital is what you own, such as a house or flat, but does not include your home. Other financial demands you have, such as paying child maintenance, will also be taken into account.

The final amount you get is based on factors such as your age, health, housing costs, working hours, the number of people in your household and whether you are a single parent or a carer. There is a personal allowance for living expenses and additional payments for being a carer or having a disability. Claiming IS can mean you are eligible for other benefits such as Disability Living Allowance, free school meals, free prescriptions and Housing Benefit.

To claim IS, visit or phone your local Jobcentre Plus office or phone 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888) between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. You can also claim IS on line

 

Pension Credit (PC)

Pension Credit is really income support for people over pension age.

Remember that any savings you have will count towards your income. There is an online pension credit calculator that you can use to work out how much you might get. Pension credit comes in two parts

  • Guarantee Credit
  • Savings Credit

Guarantee Credit is based on your income. You can claim if you are over pension age. If you have more than £6,000 in savings, you will receive less than the full amount. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work but most of what you earn will be counted when your entitlement is worked out. You are eligible if your income is less than £142.70 for a single person or £217.90 for a couple (as of April 201). Guarantee credit tops it up to this amount. If you are a carer, or get Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance, you can get a higher rate of Guarantee Credit.

Savings Credit is for people over 65 who have an income or savings above basic state pension level. You may get up to £18.54 per week for a single person or £23.73 for a couple depending on your weekly income.

The maximum income limit includes all earnings and pensions you receive. If in any doubt about whether you qualify, do put in a claim. You may get more if you are disabled, a carer or have certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

You can download more information about PC from the Government Benefits website.

To claim pension credit, you can ring the Pensions Service on 0800 99 1234 or textphone 0800 169 0133.  Lines are open 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Someone will complete the form with you over the phone and then send it to you for checking and signature. Or you can download a PC claim form from the Government website.

 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a payment for employed people who become sick and who are unable to work. It is not means tested. To qualify you must be employed and earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions. You have to be unable to work for any 4 or more days in a row, including weekends and bank holidays. If you are off sick for 3 days or less, you will not qualify. You will only be paid SSP for days that you are contracted to work (for example, you will not be paid for weekends if you work Monday to Friday).  You must have average weekly earnings of at least £107 a week to qualify (worked out on the 8 weeks before your sickness began).

The standard weekly rate of SSP is £85.85 a week for up to 28 weeks.  You can't claim if your employer has a sick pay scheme that would pay you that amount or more.

Tell your employer as soon as you become sick. You need a medical certificate from your doctor if you are off sick for more than a week. The benefit will be paid the same way as wages for up to 28 weeks of sick leave, but you may get sick pay for longer than that depending on your own employer's sickness scheme.

If you are still ill after 28 weeks, your employer should give you an SSP1 form to claim Employment Support Allowance

Claim from your employer. If you aren't sure what they are telling you is right, you can call the HMRC employees enquiry line for advice on 0845 302 1479 (textphone 0845 915 3296). Lines are open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

You may also be entitled to Income Support depending on your financial circumstances, and should get advice on which would be better for you - ask your DWP Office (Jobcentre Plus).

 

Employment support allowance (ESA)

If you are ill or disabled, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) can give you financial support if you can't work or help to work if you are able to.  You can claim if you are employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on DLA. It is based on your record of National Insurance contributions or your income, or both.

There are two phases to the allowance. First there is the assessment phase. For the first 13 weeks of your claim, you can get up to 

  • £71.00 if you're over 25
  • £56.25 if you are under 25

After that, people are sorted into two groups, either the Work Related Activity Group or the Support Group. The Work Related Activity Group is for people who are thought able to work with the right support. You go to monthly meetings with an adviser, who will organise the support you need to get back into work. The Support Group is for people who would not be able to work at all, due to their illness or disability. So after 13 weeks, you will get

  • Up to £99.15 per week if you are in the Work Related Activity Group
  • Up to £105.05 if you are in the Support Group

When you first claim, you have a work capability assessment.  You complete a questionnaire about how your illness or disability affects you day to day. Your doctor may also be asked for a medical report. A health professional then considers these and may send you for a medical assessment if they feel they need more information.  If you have an illness or disability that severely affects your ability to work, you will not be expected to prepare for work but may still need to have the medical assessment.

You can claim by calling the New Claims Centre on 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888). Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. They will ask you questions about your circumstances and tell you what happens next. Or you can download a claim form on line and send it to your local Jobseeker Plus (DWP) office.

 

Housing Benefit

You can get Housing Benefit if your income is low either because you are on other benefits, or you do not earn very much. You can be in full or part time work and still qualify if your income is low enough. You must claim for where you actually live, but this may include house, flat, houseboat or caravan, hotel or guesthouse if you are homeless and can find no alternative accommodation. You may get help whether you rent from the council, a housing association or a private landlord. You may get some or all of your rent paid.

You qualify for HB if you pay rent, are on a low income or benefits and have savings below £16,000. If you are under 35, you can only get HB for a bedsit or a single room in a shared house or flat.

The amount of HB you get depends on

  • Whether you rent privately or from the council
  • Whether you have unoccupied rooms and live in council or other social housing (such as a housing association house or flat)
  • You and your partner's income
  • The size of your family
  • Any savings above £6,000
  • The amount of rent you have to pay

You cannot claim HB if you have savings of more than £16,000, unless you receive Pension Guarantee Credit. Housing benefit does not cover fuel costs or some service charges. It doesn't cover mortgage interest payments but these may be covered by Income Support instead.

You can get claims backdated in some circumstances. You can also claim in advance (up to 13 weeks or 17 weeks if you are over 60) if you are moving. But you won't get the money before you move.

If you are on benefits, you can claim from your Jobcentre Plus office or call 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888). Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

If you claim Pension Credit, you claim from the Pensions Service on 0800 99 1234 (textphone 0800 169 0133). Lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

If you are not on benefits, you claim from your local council.  You can download the HB claim form online

 

Council Tax Reduction (CTR)

This replaces Council Tax Benefit from April 2013. You can claim if you are on a low income or on benefits. Depending on your circumstances, you may not have to pay any council tax. The reduction you get depends on

  • Where you live
  • Your personal circumstances - your income and number of children
  • Your household income - savings, pensions, or partner's income
  • Whether children or other adults live with you

To claim CTR, you have to contact your local council.

 

Bereavement Benefits

You may be able to get some financial help if someone close to you dies. To collect most of these bereavement benefits, you must either be married or a (same sex) civil partner of the person who has died. If you have been living together but are not married or civil partners, you can't claim. 

The benefits available are

  • A one off, bereavement payment of £2,000
  • Bereavement Allowance, paid for 52 weeks to a surviving spouse (or civil partner) aged between 45 and pension age and you have no dependent children
  • Widowed Parent Allowance if you are under pension age and get child benefit for dependent children

Both allowances are taxable. The bereavement payment is not.

Bereavement Allowance varies in amount depending on your age when your partner died. As of April 2013, the rates are £31.79 per week if you are age 45 up to £105.95 per week if you are between 55 and pension age.

Widowed Parent Allowance is up to £105.95 a week for the basic rate. The amount depends on the deceased National Insurance records, unless they died from an industrial disease or accident.

You may get help with funeral costs if a partner, close relative, close friend or a child dies. You have to be on a low income and get certain benefits or tax credits. If the deceased person has any money or other financial assets (such as a house), you will have to pay the money back out of that when the estate is settled. There is more information about help with funeral costs and how to claim on the Government website. 

You can claim bereavement benefits from your local JobCentre Plus (DWP) office or by calling the Bereavement Service on 0845 608 8601 (textphone 0845 606 0285). Lines are open 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. There is more information about all these bereavement payments and benefits and how to claim on the Government website.

 

Useful contacts

Age UK helpline
Age UK was formed from the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged.
Phone: 0800 169 6565
www.ageuk.org.uk

Attendance allowance or disability living allowance enquiry service
Warbreck House
Warbreck Hill Road
Blackpool
Lancs
FY2 0YE
Phone: 0845 712 3456 Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 6.00pm
Textphone 0845 722 4433.

Benefit Enquiry Line
0800 882200 (textphone 0800 243355)
On-line at www.gov.uk/benefits-adviser.

DWP Carer's allowance enquiry service
Disability Carers Service
Palatine House
Lancaster Road
Preston
PR1 1HB

Phone 0845 608 4321
Textphone: 0845 604 5312
Website: www.gov.uk/carers-allowance

Citizen's Advice Bureau
There is no longer a single national number. Look in your local Yellow Pages or Thompson's Directory.

DWP medical examinations complaints, contact
Medical Services Customer Relations
Wing G, Block 1
Government Buildings
Otley Road
Leeds
LS16 5PU
This service is now subcontracted to a private company called Atos Healthcare, so that is what they will say when the answer the phone – you haven't got a wrong number.

Phone 0113 230 9175
Textphone: 18001 08002888777 (This is a BT Text Direct number)

Job Centre Plus Benefits claim line
This is a DWP freephone line for people wishing to claim Income Support or Employment Support Allowance.

Phone: 0800 0556688 (please note, this is free from BT landlines. If you use a mobile or other service, you may have to pay).

Macmillan Cancer Support
Provides information about claiming benefits for people with cancer and gives one off grants to people with low income and savings.

Information line: 0808 808 00 00 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 8pm) – information is available in other languages.
Website: www.macmillan.org.uk

National Insurance enquiries
HM Revenue and Customs
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

Phone 0845 302 1479 (personal enquiries)
Employer's Helpline - 0845 714 3143 (Provides general advice and information about National Insurance contributions and employer paid benefits.)

Pensions enquiries
For UK residents aged 60 and over: 0845 606 0265

For pension and benefit enquiries if you live overseas:
International Pensions Centre
Tyneview Park
Whitley Road
Benton
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1BA
Phone: 0191 218 7777

Pension Credit enquiries claim line
Phone: 0800 99 1234 Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 6.00pm (except public holidays)
Textphone: 0800 169 0133

Prescription and NHS charges enquiries
Health Benefits Division
Sandyford House
Archbold Terrace
Jesmond
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
NE2 1DB
Phone 0845 850 1166

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Updated: 5 April 2013