Cancer patients miss out on more than £90m in benefits
Thursday 18 March 2010
Over one-third of people with terminal cancer are not getting the benefits to which they are entitled, a study by Macmillan Cancer Support has found.
Terminally ill cancer patients should automatically qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - which helps people meet the extra costs incurred because of disability - and Attendance Allowance (AA) if they are aged 65 or over.
But the Macmillan study found that 36 per cent of patients die without receiving these benefits, meaning that more than £90 million is going unclaimed.
Furthermore, many people whose cancer is not terminal are entitled to benefits, while linked benefits such as the Carers Allowance are also commonly not claimed.
The charity found that many patients simply do not know they are eligible, while other barriers include the perceived stigma of claiming benefits and the confusing claims process.
Research also discovered that take-up of benefits varies across the UK, with 39 per cent of patients in England not claiming their benefits and those in the north-west appearing to be twice as likely to claim as those in the south-east.
To address the issue, Macmillan has launched a new interactive guide called 'Benefits made clear', which can be found at www.macmillan.org.uk/benefitsmadeclear.
Ciaran Devane, the charity's chief executive, said: "It's tragic that terminally ill cancer patients are struggling to make ends meet when there's money available.
"Benefits make a real difference to people who have to deal with money worries on top of having cancer."
Hilary Tovey, Cancer Research UK's policy manager, said: "It's disappointing to hear that many cancer patients are missing out on the benefits they're entitled to. It is important that cancer patients get all the support available to them.
"These benefits are designed to help reduce the financial burden for many cancer patients who struggle with the heavy cost of having cancer. Being unable to work or travelling to hospitals for daily radiotherapy can take a huge financial toll.
"This new guide will help patients to understand more about their entitlements. But it is clear that the government and the NHS need to be doing more to ensure that information about benefits is getting to the cancer patients who really need them."
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