Financial help at the end of life
Having an illness, such as cancer, nearly always involves unexpected expenses. This can cause extra worry at a time when you least need it. Financial help is available from a number of sources and can sometimes be accessed at short notice.
Most people who need care towards the end of their lives qualify for either Disability Living Allowance (DLA), if under the age of 65, or Attendance Allowance (AA), if over the age of 65.
As part of the welfare reforms, DLA will gradually be replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP), starting from April 2013. If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll need to check with your benefits adviser or social worker whether you should claim DLA or PIP.
These benefits aren’t means-tested. Anyone who isn’t expected to live longer than six months because of an illness can apply for DLA/PIP or AA under special rules. Under these rules, the claim will be given priority and will be dealt with more quickly. You’ll also receive the benefit at the highest rate. People who are claiming under this special rule need to ask their doctor to complete a form.
Your district nurse, specialist nurse or social worker can tell you more about these benefits and whether you can apply for them. You can also get more information by visiting the Department for Work and Pensions website. If you live in Northern Ireland, you should contact your nearest Social Security Agency Office for advice on benefits.
You may be able to claim grants from other organisations or charities. Macmillan gives grants and benefits advice to people with cancer. You can call our support line for free. You can also read our information about financial support.
Your union or professional organisation, if you belong to one, may be able to give you financial help or advice. In some professions, there may be special funds that can help with cash grants and sometimes holidays. Details are listed in the directory 'A guide to grants for individuals in need', which is available in most public libraries.
These are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, people with cancer can also get free prescriptions, but you need to apply for an exemption certificate by collecting an FP92A form from your GP surgery or oncology clinic.
Other things to think about
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These are frozen at the time of death and can’t be used, so you may want to consider putting bank accounts into joint names.
Some private or occupational pension schemes won’t pay out any benefits to partners if the owner of the pension scheme wasn’t married. This means that the pension fund is lost.
An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) may be able to give you advice in these situations. You can contact a financial adviser through the Personal Finance Society or Unbiased.co.uk