Financial help when caring for someone with advanced cancer
This may be a difficult time financially. There may be benefits and allowances that you or the person you are caring for are entitled to.
The person you are looking after might have provided the main income for your household before becoming ill. You may have decided together that you should give up work, or work part-time, in order to be at home. You may have to find the money for additional expenses such as extra heating, laundry charges, and special equipment or dietary needs.
Benefits and allowances
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Your relative or friend, or you, may be entitled to a number of different benefits and allowances. You should claim as soon as possible so that you don’t lose out on any benefits.
Payments are usually paid directly into an account of your choice. Claims can be made by contacting the Benefit Enquiry Line, the local Jobcentre Plus office, or online through the Directgov website.
Some benefits and allowances that you may be able to claim are listed here. For more information about benefits and allowances you can contact our Cancer Support Specialists or see the Financial issues section.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
This allowance is for people under 65 who need help with personal care (the care component) and/or getting around (the mobility component). There are different levels of payment for each component depending on how much support and care the person with cancer needs.
Attendance Allowance (AA)
This allowance is for people of 65 or over who need help with personal care. There is no mobility component. The amount of benefit paid will depend on how much support and care the person needs.
Anyone who is not expected to live longer than six months because of an illness can apply for DLA or AA under the special rules. Under these rules, the claim will be given priority and will be dealt with more quickly. The highest rate of payment for the care component of DLA is given automatically. All special rules claims are reviewed after three years.
Carer’s Allowance (CA)
This is a carer's allowance that is paid directly to you each week if you:
are aged 16 or over
spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone.
You can’t claim carer’s allowance if you:
are in full-time education with 21 or more hours a week of supervised study
earn more than £100 a week (after certain deductions).
For you to receive Carers Allowance, the person you care for must be receiving Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance Care Component (middle or higher rates).
this is a means-tested benefit for people on a low income aged between 16 and the age at which they can claim Pension Credit. It is intended to cover basic living expenses and is for people who don’t have to sign on for work, such as carers and lone parents.
Employment and Support Allowance
This benefit was introduced in October 2008 and replaces Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid because of illness or disability. The allowance may be based on how much national insurance the person has paid, or related to their income and how much money or savings they have.
This is a means-tested benefit for people over 60. Between April 2010 and April 2020, the age at which you can receive Pension Credit is changing. It will gradually rise in line with the increase in the State Pension Age for women, which is changing from 60 to 65. Pension Credit Guarantee is for those who have reached the minimum qualifying age. Savings Credit is for those aged 65 or over who have savings or income above the basic state pension.
Child Tax Credit
This is a payment to support families with children that are still in full-time education or approved training.
Working Tax Credit
This is a payment that ‘tops-up’ your earnings if you are working and on a low income, even if you have no children.
Community Care Grants
These are available from the Social Fund for people on Income Support, Pension Guarantee Credit and Income-based Job Seekers Allowance and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. Grants can be claimed for items such as bedding, clothing, a washing machine or drier.
The benefits and allowances you may be entitled to can change from time to time, so it’s important to always check the current situation and whether you are eligible. You can get the latest information from a number of organisations and charities including:
your local Jobcentre Plus office
the Directgov website
your social worker or social services department
a benefits adviser at your local hospital or hospice
the local Citizens Advice Bureau
the local welfare rights unit
the local law centre
a carers’ or cancer support group
Macmillan Cancer Support grants
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Macmillan gives grants to over 500 people a week who are living with cancer or dealing with its effects. Grants are generally one-off payments towards items such as hospital travel expenses, holidays, heating, clothing, bedding, telephone installation and domestic bills. A grant can also be given for items like washing machines, fans, heaters and liquidisers for people on liquid diets.
An application for a grant has to be made through a health or social care professional, such as a nurse or social worker. Grants are not made to single people who have savings of more than £6,000 or couples and families with savings of more than £8,000. Your household disposable income (after you’ve paid your mortgage or rent, council tax, insurance and water rates) should be under £100 per person per week.
Other sources of financial help
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You may be able to get some financial help from charities. A useful book which gives details of all the charities and what they provide is A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need. It’s published by the Directory of Social Change and you can find a copy in most libraries. Many trade unions and professional organisations also have benevolent funds, which can provide financial help and advice. Details are in The Charities Digest (published by Waterlow), which is held in most libraries.
The Association of Charity Officers tries to help people find charities that may be able to offer some financial assistance. Using information about your relative or friend, such as their occupation, religion and where they live, the association can usually find relevant charities to help.
If you, and/or the person you are caring for, are employed, the human resources, personnel or welfare officer at your workplace can also be an important source of information and help.
Help with your mortgage
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If you are having difficulty paying your mortgage, contact the manager of the building society or lender as soon as possible and explain what has happened. They may agree to suspend payments for a while to give you time to sort your finances out, or suggest that you pay only the interest on the loan for a while. Another solution is to extend the term of the mortgage so that you have less to pay each month.
If you are claiming certain benefits, you might be able to get help with paying the interest on your mortgage and certain other household costs from the Department for Work and Pensions. A benefits adviser can give you further information.
Your local Department for Work and Pensions office, social worker or a Citizens Advice Bureau can also advise on help with paying your mortgage.
Property and financial affairs
If your relative or friend is unable to manage their financial affairs, they can give you Power of Attorney. This means that you have the legal right to act on their behalf. Obviously, you will need to discuss this. Although it may be more convenient on a practical level, the person you are caring for may find it emotionally difficult to hand their affairs over to you formally like this.
In England and Wales this is known as a property and affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
In Scotland, appointing someone to manage your finances and property is called a Continuing Power of Attorney.
In Northern Ireland a similar arrangement is called an Enduring Power of Attorney.
There is a fee to register an LPA. If you are receiving certain benefits or have a low income, you may be exempt from paying the registration fee or only have to pay part of it.
You can get more information about registering an LPA from a social worker at the hospital, the Directgov website or organisations such as Age UK.
If the person you are caring for isn’t mentally capable of making the decision to give you Power of Attorney, you will have to either apply to the Court of Protection (if you live in England or Wales), the Public Guardian (if you live in Scotland) or the Office of Care and Protection (if you live in Northern Ireland), before you can act on their behalf. If you need advice, contact a solicitor or your local Citizens Advice Bureau or law centre.
Decisions about treatment and welfare
The person you are caring for may become unable to make decisions about their own care because they lack the mental capacity. This is the ability to understand and retain information, and to make decisions based on that information. They may lack mental capacity because they have a disorder like dementia, for example. If your relative or friend lacks mental capacity, a doctor must act in their best interests.
Some people make an advance decision to refuse treatment or advance statement about which treatments they are willing to accept in certain circumstances. This means that if they become unable to discuss things with their doctors and incapable of making any decisions, the doctors will still know what their wishes are. Advance decisions are sometimes called advance directives or living wills.
You aren’t allowed to give consent or make decisions about your relative or friend’s treatment on their behalf, unless they have given you specific permission to do so by setting up a personal welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA must be made while they are able to understand what it is and what it means. It’s only valid in England and Wales.
In Scotland, the legal document that appoints one or more people to make decisions on someone else’s behalf about their care and treatment, should they become incapable, is called the Welfare Power of Attorney (WPA). In Northern Ireland, it is currently not possible for other people to be appointed to make decisions about the care and treatment of someone else.
You can also find out more about advance statements and directives, LPAs or WPAs from a social worker at the hospital, The Office of the Public Guardian or organisations such as Age UK.