Giving up work after a cancer diagnosis

Some people choose to give up work completely when they're diagnosed with cancer. This allows them to focus on the cancer, its treatment and other aspects of their lives.

If work has been the major focus of your life, it can be difficult to adjust to not working. It may help to talk to someone about your feelings, such as a close family member or friend. Or you may find it helpful to talk to someone outside your social circle, such as a counsellor.

If you give up work, you also give up the rights associated with your employment, such as occupational sick pay, Statutory Sick Pay, pension rights and occupation-linked private medical insurance.

If you want to take early retirement on health grounds or for personal reasons, it’s essential to take advice from your pension administrator. You may be able to take early payment of your pension on the grounds of ill health, but this will depend on the rules of your own particular pension scheme. You may have several options to consider.

Drawing on an occupational pension for health reasons can mean that you receive a higher amount of pension. However, if you choose to retire early but are medically fit to work, the level of your pension may be lowered.

Your scheme may not allow you to retire early if you’re fit to work. The provisions vary between schemes. Consider your own circumstances before deciding on a final settlement.

Getting advice from an independent financial adviser about the various options open to you may help you get a higher income from your pension.

You may need to decide between a large lump-sum payment plus a small monthly income, or a small lump-sum payment plus a large monthly income.

If you’re claiming Employment and Support Allowance, this may be reduced if you receive payments of more than a certain amount per week from either a pension or health insurance scheme.

Early retirement is always a big decision, particularly if you’re making this choice because of your health. The Macmillan Financial Guidance Service can help you understand the options available to you. They can also help you with the questions to think about before you make a final decision.

Back to The impact cancer may have on work

Taking time off work

If cancer or its treatment prevent you from working, you may qualify for benefits that can provide some financial help.

Talking to your colleagues about cancer

Talking about your cancer can be difficult, but speaking to your colleagues can make it easier for them to understand and support you.

If a colleague has cancer

You may feel upset or worried if a colleague has been diagnosed with cancer.

Going back to work

Talking to your employer is an important step in returning to work.

Protection against discrimination

Legislation protects you from being treated unfairly at work because of cancer.

If you're looking for work

Potential new employers may ask you questions about your health.