Financial help when living with a terminal illness

Money when living with a terminal illness

Living with a terminal illness can be financially quite hard: you might start to earn less if you need to stop working or reduce your hours. You may spend more on everyday costs like heating and travelling to hospital.

We’ve got disability benefits, universal credit, funeral finance payments – living with a terminal illness shouldn’t mean you fall into financial hardship. Here’s a look at the ways to get support when working with a terminal illness, as well as ways to find alternative everyday income. 

Working with a terminal illness

You might need to take quite a lot of time off, which could be disruptive for ongoing work projects. Your salary might go down, or you might be asked to leave. Make sure you know your rights at work: if you have or have had cancer, for example, you’re protected by law from unfair treatment at work.

Under equalities law your employer should try to support you. This includes making changes to help you stay in or return to work when you’re able or feel ready to.

Fit for Work has free, independent advice on work and health for employees, employers and GPs on their website. They also have a phone line.

Company sick pay and sick leave

You can get financial help if cancer affects your ability to work:

  • You can claim Statutory Sick Pay if you are off work for at least four days in a row and earn at least £112 a week
  • You may also be able to get occupational or company sick pay
  • If you are self-employed, you may still qualify for benefits, such as ESA or Tax Credits

Other income: health and life insurance

A cancer diagnosis or other long term health conditions can set off a payout from these schemes. This could be a lump sum, a monthly income, continuing payments on your behalf or reimbursing the cost of private treatment.

Some life insurance policies include a terminal illness benefit. So, the insurer might pay out the full amount of the insurance cover immediately if you are expected to live less than 12 months.

If you’ve paid into critical illness cover, you’ll get back a tax-free lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a life-threatening health condition such as a heart attack, a stroke, kidney failure and some types of cancer. It also pays out if you become totally and permanently disabled.

You may have bought critical illness cover on its own or it might be combined with life insurance.

Benefits and government help in place at the moment

National insurance credit

If you’re not at work because you’re sick, or you’re claiming benefits for illness or disability, then you won’t be paying National Insurance.

You usually keep getting National Insurance credits in these situations, which cover the contributions you couldn’t pay. They also protect your right to some state benefits.

Employment and Support Allowance

The ESA is a benefit for people under retirement age who can’t work because of illness or disability.

There are two types of ESA:

  • Contribution-based ESA – if you’ve paid enough National Insurance
  • Income-related ESA – if your income and savings are low (this is will eventually be replaced by Universal Credit)

If you meet the medical requirements for ESA, you’ll be paid the basic rate for 13 weeks. This is £73.10 a week for a single person aged 25 or over.

Benefits you can get if you’re a carer

Carers credit

To get Carer’s Credit, you must care for someone for more than 20 hours a week. The person you look after must receive a qualifying benefit, such as Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance.

If the person you are caring for is not receiving a qualifying benefit, you may still be eligible for Carer’s Credit if you can provide a care certificate.

Carer’s allowance

You may be eligible if the person you care for receives Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. Carer’s Allowance is £62.70 a week.

To qualify, you must be:

  • Over 16
  • Caring for someone for at least 35 hours a week
  • Earning less than £116 a week.

Find out more

Access to Work is a government programme which can help you or your employer if you have a long-term health condition that affects the way you do your job. It gives advice and practical support to meet extra costs that may arise because of your health.

Turn2us helps people find specific charities that may be able to offer financial help.

Take a look at our Help and Support page for more links to support

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