Managing money at the end of life

As you near the end of your life, you or your family may have concerns about your finances. Financial help is available. You can sometimes access it at short notice.

Financial help at the end of life

As you near the end of your life, you or your family may have concerns about:

  • income
  • additional costs
  • managing your finances.

Financial help is available. You can sometimes access it at short notice.

It is likely that you will be able to get benefits in the last months of your life to help with your care. You may also be able to get free prescriptions. Some charities and other organisations provide grants to help with costs.

Benefits

Most people who need care towards the end of their lives qualify for disability benefits. These include:

These benefits are not means-tested. This means the amount of money you have does not affect whether you can get the benefit.

You may also be able to apply for:

Our welfare rights advisers can give you advice about claiming benefits and help you fill in claim forms. To talk to a welfare rights adviser, call us on 0808 808 00 00 or chat online. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to talk to a local Macmillan benefit advice service.

You can also get more information and apply for certain benefits by visiting:

Terminal illness (special rules)

If you are terminally ill, you can apply for these benefits using a fast-track process called special rules.

If you live in England, Wales and Scotland

You can apply for PIP and AA if your doctor thinks you may be reasonably expected to live for less than 6 months.

From 4 April 2022, you can apply for ESA and UC if your doctor thinks you may live for less than 12 months.

If you apply for benefits under special rules, you can avoid extra assessments. Also, you are usually paid the higher rate, except for the mobility component of PIP and DLA. You must still apply for that, but the process may be quicker.

You must claim the benefit and explain that you are claiming under special rules. Your doctor or cancer nurse will also need to fill out a form: 

  • If your doctor feels you may only live for 6 months or less, they should complete a DS1500 form. This supports a claim for any benefit. 
  • If your doctor feels you may only live for 12 months or less, they need to complete a SR1from. This will support a claim for ESA and UC.  

It will then be sent to the Department for Work and Pensions. Only one form is needed to support your claim. 

You should get your payment within 2 weeks of sending the DS1500 or SR1 form.

Benefits under special rules are usually given for a period of 3 years. They will be looked at again after this time if you live longer than originally expected.

If you live in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland you can apply for the benefits under special rules if your doctor thinks you may be reasonably expected to live for less than 6 months. 

If you apply for benefits under special rules, you can avoid extra assessments. Also, you are usually paid the higher rate, except for the mobility component of PIP and DLA. You must still apply for that, but the process may be quicker.

You must claim the benefit and explain that you are claiming under special rules. Your doctor or cancer nurse will also need to fill out a form called a DS1500. This gives information about your illness and treatment. The form is sent to the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

You should get your payment within 2 weeks of sending the DS1500 form.

Benefits under special rules are usually given for a period of 3 years. They will be looked at again after this time if you live longer than originally expected.

Grants

You may be able to claim grants from many places.

Macmillan Grants are small payments to help people with the extra costs that cancer can cause. They are usually a one-off payment. They are for people who have a low level of income and savings.

You apply through a health or social care professional. They fill in a grant application form with you online and submit it to the Macmillan Grants team. The Macmillan Grants team will then process your application and we will be in touch if we need any more information from you.

As well as Macmillan Grants, there may be other grants and loans available if you need financial help. These might include help from:

  • government and local councils
  • utility companies (gas, electricity and water companies)
  • charities and other organisations.

You can also call us for free on 0808 808 00 00 to speak to a welfare rights adviser or a cancer support specialist.

Your local library may have books about organisations that provide grants. One such book is A guide to grants for individuals in need, published by the Directory of Social Change.

Prescriptions

Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England, people with cancer and some long-term conditions can also get free prescriptions. You need to apply for an exemption certificate by collecting an FP92A form from your GP surgery.

Other financial things to think about

There may be other things to sort out, such as bank accounts and pensions.

Bank accounts

Your bank accounts will be frozen when you die. This means money can only be taken out if the person carrying out the instructions in your will transfers it. It is their job to tell the bank that you have died.

If you have a joint bank account with another person such as a partner, any money left in the account belongs to them. But in Scotland, any money you put into a joint account still belongs to you when you die. It then becomes part of your estate.

Pension schemes

You can nominate someone as your beneficiary using a legal nomination form provided by your pension scheme. This means that whatever is left in your pension when you die may pass directly to them. This depends on the terms and conditions of your pension scheme. Make sure your pension provider has up-to-date details of your beneficiary. If you have more than one pension, tell all your providers.

How we can help

Macmillan Grants

If you have cancer, you may be able to get a Macmillan Grant to help with the extra costs of cancer. Find out who can apply and how to access our grants.

Financial guidance
Financial issues can cause worry when someone becomes ill. You may be able to claim benefits to help you in your situation. You may also be able to get financial assistance from other organisations.
Welfare rights advice and tools

There are lots of benefits that could help you after a cancer diagnosis, but the system can be confusing. Our Welfare Rights Advisors are here to help.