Your finances after cancer treatment
Although more and more people are now living with cancer, the financial services industry can be very cautious about doing business with people who have had cancer.
Insurance companies, in particular, feel that people who have had cancer are more likely to make a claim, although this is generally not the case.
Insurance and mortgages
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After having treatment for cancer, it can be more difficult to get life insurance, travel insurance and mortgages. To find life insurance, it is helpful to contact an independent financial advisor (IFA), who can find the best deal for your particular situation. You can find a local IFA by referral from family or friends, looking in your phone book, or by contacting The Personal Finance Society or IFA Promotions.
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) may be able to find you a broker. BIBA can also help with travel insurance.
You may find it difficult to get life insurance for 2-3 years after a cancer diagnosis. This will depend on the type and extent of the cancer you had, and the length of time since your treatment. When life insurance is granted, the first premiums are likely to be high. If you're already covered, you may find it difficult to increase the value of your policy for some years.
If you have financial difficulties due to your cancer, there are many sources of help and support for you.
if you are employed and unable to work, your employer can pay you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for a maximum of 28 weeks. If you are still unable to work after this period, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
This is a new benefit which has replaced Incapacity Benefit. There are two parts to ESA: a contributory part which is dependent on how much National Insurance you have paid and a means tested part which is dependent on your income and savings. You may get either or both parts.
ESA is paid at a basic rate for the first 13 weeks. During this time you will have to take part in a work capability assessment and attend a work focused interview. After the 13-week period you will be assessed and placed into one of two groups: the support group or the work related activity group.
If you are found to have limited capability for work you will be placed in the support group. An additional payment will be paid to anyone in the support group. If you are found not to have limited capability for work you will be placed in the work related activity group. A small additional payment will be paid to anyone in this group. You will have to attend five more work focused interviews. These are to help you get back into work.
If you are self-employed you are entitled to claim ESA as long as you have paid the correct level of National Insurance contributions. People who have not paid the relevant National Insurance contributions may qualify for ESA under the means tested route. If you're ill and not able to claim, remember to ask your GP for a medical certificate for the period of your illness.
If you're in hospital, ask your doctor or nurse for a certificate to cover the time that you are an inpatient. This is necessary if you need to claim a benefit. You may qualify for Disability Living Allowance (if you are under 65) or for Attendance Allowance (if you are over 65).
Information about benefits and financial help
For more information on benefits and financial support contact our cancer support specialists and see our information about financial issues.
You can also find out more about benefits from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Social Security office. You will usually need to make an appointment. Their addresses and telephone numbers are in the phone book. You can also get information from Gov.uk
You may need help to defer unavoidable bills and payments such as your rent or mortgage, council tax and heating bills. If you're having difficulty, or think that you may have problems meeting monthly mortgage repayments, it's a good idea to contact the manager of the bank or building society that arranged the mortgage, to explain your situation.
Building societies are sometimes prepared to suspend payments for a few months (especially when your case is explained in a report from a social worker). This gives you a chance to sort out your finances.
It may be possible to extend the term of the mortgage so there is less to pay each month, or you may be able to make interest only payments, which will reduce the monthly payment.
The Homeowners Mortgage Support scheme has recently been introduced for people who are having difficulties meeting their mortgage repayments. It allows lenders to reduce a borrower's current monthly mortgage payments, with the deferred payments rolled up, added to the principle, and paid at a later date when the borrower's circumstances have improved. You can read more on the Gov.uk website.
You can speak to your local council office about deferring council tax payments, and can contact providers of services such as water, gas, electricity and telephones if you have difficulty in meeting payments for these services.
There may also be a neighbourhood Law Centre in your area, which can advise you if you have problems with repayments.