Am I eligible for Universal Credit if I have cancer?

Universal Credit (UC) is a benefit to help with living costs for people on a low income or out of work. In the UK cancer is recognised as a disability. You may be eligible to claim Universal Credit if you are out of work due to cancer or caring for someone who has cancer. We have more information on who can claim Universal Credit.

Our Benefits Calculator will help you to see if you are able to claim for Universal Credit and how much you might be entitled to. The calculator uses information about your income, savings, pension and existing benefits. 

If you are a carer

If you already receive Universal Credit (UC) and are caring for someone, you might also be able to access the carer's element.

The carer's element of Universal Credit is different to Carer's Allowance and Carer's Credit. To be eligible for the carer's element of Universal Credit you must be caring for someone for at least 35 hours a week. You can find out if you are eligible for the carer's element.

How do I claim Universal Credit?

If you are eligible for Universal Credit, you will need to apply online at GOV.UK. 

You will need to create an online account to claim Universal Credit. Once you have set up your Universal Credit account you can log in at any time to check or update your claim.

You will need access to a computer and the internet, an email address and a phone number. If you do not own a computer, we recommend you visit your local library to access a computer. You could also ask a friend or family member to help. 

If you live with a partner, you must make a joint claim as a couple. Both of your income and savings will be considered and you will get a single monthly payment for your household. Your claims will be linked. 

  • What is classed as a 'couple'?

    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) considers a 'couple' to be two people living in the same household who are either:

    • married to each other
    • civil partners
    • two people living together as if they are married.

Do I have to apply online?

If you cannot make an online application, you can also apply by calling the Universal Credit helpline:

  • In England, Scotland and Wales, call 0800 328 5644 or 0800 328 1744 for Welsh language. Or use textphone 0800 328 1344.
  • In Northern Ireland, call 0800 012 1331 or use textphone 0800 012 1441. 

Deaf or hard of hearing

British Sign Language (BSL) users can access Universal Credit through a video relay service provided by the DWP. This is a free service and will allow you to make BSL interpreted video calls to a member of DWP staff. This can be accessed via your computer. The DWP also has information on how on use the service on a mobile and tablet

What do I need to claim Universal Credit?

Before you start your new claim for Universal Credit, you must have certain information and paperwork at hand. This will help you to start receiving Universal Credit as soon as possible.

See our checklist below to help make claiming Universal Credit as simple as possible: 

  • Creating an account
    • Email address
    • Phone number
    • Proof of identity. For example, an in-date passport, or driving licence. If you do not have these, you can confirm your identity at the Jobcentre or on the phone.
  • General information
    • Your date of birth
    • Your full address, including postcode. You will also need to provide proof of address, for example, a letter from your bank or a utility bill.
    • Your National Insurance number. This can be found on a payslip, letter from HMRC or DWP. You can also call the National Insurance numbers helpline: 0300 200 3502. You can still apply for Universal Credit if you don't yet have one or cannot remember it.
  • Your living situation
    • Who you live with including information about any children or dependents
    • The number of bedrooms in the property
    • Type of property. For example, private rental, council tenancy or housing association tenancy
    • How much rent or mortgage you pay each month
    • Your rent agreement and landlord's address and phone number if relevant.
  • Your income and savings
    • Where you work
    • Salary. Including recent payslips, accounts or receipts if you are self-employed
    • a P45 if you have left work
    • Your bank, building society or credit union account details. You can request a copy of a bank statement from your bank if you don't have one. If you do not have a bank account, you can use a friend or family members for the first payment. You will need to get your own bank account before your second payment. Find out more about getting a bank account.
    • Details of your income, savings, investments, housing costs and any childcare costs
    • Details of any other benefits you are receiving.
  • Any children or dependents
    • How many children you have
    • Any child maintenance
    • If your claim includes children, you will need your Child Benefit Reference number (if they have one). This can be found on a letter from the Child Benefit Office.
  • Medical records
    • Although you do not need to provide medical evidence to start your claim, it is a good idea to gather any letters from the hospital to confirm your cancer diagnosis and treatment plan.
    • It might also be helpful to get a 'fit note' from your GP or GP surgery to show that you are not able to work.
    • If you are having hospital treatment, you can ask your doctor or nurse for a fit note to cover the time that you are in hospital.

How to fill in a Universal Credit claim

You will need to log into your Universal Credit account to start your claim. When you log in, you will be asked questions about you and your financial situation as part of your To-do list. The online claim form can take up to an hour to complete if you have all of the information prepared.

  • Your To-do list

Providing information about your health condition 

You will be asked if you have a health condition that affects your ability to work as part of your To-do list. If you have cancer, you should answer ‘yes’ here. You will be automatically referred for a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This is used to assess how much your health condition affects your ability to work. 

You should upload any copies of medical evidence to your online account if possible. 

Once you have finished all the questions in a section, you won't be able to edit your answers until all other sections are completed. You will then need to sign a declaration to confirm that all the information is correct.

Claiming Universal Credit under special rules

You may be eligible to apply for Universal Credit under special rules if you have found out that your cancer cannot be cured or if you are caring for someone with advanced cancer. We have information about claiming benefits under special rules.

We know that being diagnosed with advanced cancer can have an impact on you emotionally and financially. Macmillan is here to support you, your family, and your friends. We have information on managing money at the end of life and Macmillan Support Line is here to listen if you want to talk.

Filling in the UC50 form

Once you have been referred to a WCA, you will be asked to complete an assessment form called a UC50. This will ensure you receive any extra money you are entitled to. 

The UC50 form will be sent to you in the post. But you can download it online. You will need to print it out because it will need to be signed by a healthcare professional.

You can access this form in different formats, including braille, large print, or audio. Call Universal Credit to request this.

It is important to complete and return your UC50 within 4 weeks of receiving it to make sure you get your full entitlement as quickly as possible. You can find the date you need to return it by on the letter included with the form.

You should receive a decision from DWP within 1 month, but this can vary. Waiting for a decision can be difficult. Our Macmillan Support Line is there to help.

Information relating to cancer treatment 

If you have a cancer diagnosis you will not need to complete all the questions on the form. There is a section on the form about if you are having, waiting for or recovering from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

You will need to ask a healthcare professional to provide information on the form. You can take the form with you to your next appointment or send it to them in the post or via email. You will not need to provide medical evidence of your diagnosis.

Limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) and limited capability for work (LCW)

Based on the information provided in the UC50, the DWP will then decide if you have either:

  • Limited capability for work (LCW)

    This means you won’t have to work but you might be asked to carry out some tasks such as writing a CV or training. You may still need a medical assessment. 

  • Limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA)

    This means you won’t have to work or prepare for work. You may be eligible for additional Universal Credit. You will qualify for LCWRA if you are having, waiting for, or recovering from radiotherapy and chemotherapy. You will not need to attend a medical assessment. 

Which one you have depends on your cancer diagnosis and treatment plan. For example, you may move from LCW to LCWRA if your doctors decide you need radiotherapy.

Do I get extra Universal Credit for LCWRA?

LCWRA is an additional element that is added to your Universal Credit payment. If you have LCWRA then you may be eligible for more money in addition to your standard allowance. To find out how much money you may get, visit GOV.UK

If you have LCWRA your claim won't be affected by the benefit cap. The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can get. 

What happens after I submit my Universal Credit claim?

It usually takes around 5 weeks for your claim to be processed and to get your first Universal Credit payment.

After your first payment, you will be paid on the same date every month. If your payment date falls on a weekend, you will be paid on the working day before. You can view your monthly payment statements on your online account. You will be able to see how much you will be paid.  

If you need to be paid sooner, you can apply for an advance on your first payment. The most you will receive is the same amount as your first estimated payment.

How long does LCWRA payment take?

In most cases the LCWRA element will not be added to your Universal Credit payment straight away. It can take up to 3 months from when you first reported having limited capability for work.

If you are awarded the LCWRA element, your claim will be backdated to when you disclosed your condition (this is usually when you submit your UC claim). It may be added straight away if you are terminally ill or were already entitled to one of the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) components before you applied for Universal Credit.

If you would like more information about your situation and when you will receive your LCWRA payment, you can talk to our Macmillan Welfare Rights Advisers.

Can I dispute or appeal a Universal Credit decision?

You can dispute a Universal Credit decision. We have more information about the process of challenging a benefits decision.

You can also speak to our Macmillan Welfare Rights Advisers who can give advice and support with challenging benefits decisions.

What do I do if my circumstances change?

You need to report any changes to your circumstances as soon as possible as this could affect your Universal Credit. This includes changes to your health, for example if there are any changes to your cancer diagnosis or treatment plan.

  • Changes you need to report
    • Being awarded any other benefits
    • finding or finishing a job
    • having a child
    • changes to who is in your household, for example if you move in with a partner or someone moves in with you
    • starting to care for a child or disabled person
    • changing your mobile number or email address
    • moving to a new address changing your bank details
    • your rent going up or down
    • becoming too ill to work or meet your work coach
    • changes to your earnings (only if you’re self-employed)
    • changes to your savings, investments and how much money you have
    • changes to your immigration status, if you’re not a British citizen.

Going into hospital

Some benefits may also be affected if you have a long stay in hospital or go abroad. This normally applies if either lasts for 4 weeks or more.

If your partner is in hospital and is expected to be in for 6 months or more, then you will need to end the joint claim and claim as a single person.

Not every change will affect your benefits. But if you are not sure, you should contact the DWP. Not telling them could mean you are missing out on extra money. Or you could be paid money that you have to pay back.  

If you get a job or increase your hours at work

Use the benefits calculator to find out how getting a job or increasing your hours may affect your Universal Credit. You can also speak with your work coach or a Macmillan Welfare Rights Adviser.

If you've been paid too much

In some situations you may have been paid too much Universal Credit. This may be if:

  • a change is not reported straight away
  • the information you provided was incorrect
  • you were overpaid by mistake.

GOV UK has more information if you have been paid too much Universal Credit

How do I report changes?

You can report a change of circumstance in your online account.  You can also call the Universal Credit helpline:

  • In England, Scotland and Wales, call 0800 328 5644 or 0800 328 1744 for Welsh language. Or use textphone 0800 328 1344.
  • In Northern Ireland, call 0800 012 1331 or use textphone 0800 012 1441.

What other financial support is available?

Depending on your situation, you may be able to get other financial support to help with the extra costs of cancer.

  • Other benefits you might be entitled to:
    • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for people aged 16 to State Pension age. It is for people who have problems with daily living or moving around.
    • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people under State Pension age who have an illness or disability that affects how much they can work.
    • Pension Credit is a benefit for people who have reached State Pension age and have a low income.
    • Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You may be able to get financial help if you are caring for someone with cancer.
    • Adult Disability Payment (ADP) is a new benefit that replaces Personal Independent Payment and Disability Living Allowance in Scotland.
  • Grants and other one-off payments
    • A Macmillan Grant is a payment of £200 to help with additional costs such as energy bills, home adaptations and travel costs. Grants are means-tested and are for people who have a low level of income and saving. A Macmillan Grant would not affect your benefits entitlement.
    • Cost of Living Payment. You may be eligible for the government's Cost of Living Payment if you are receiving certain benefits. If you are eligible these will automatically be added to your benefits payment.

You can use our benefits calculator to check if you are eligible for any other benefits. You will need to be a British or Irish citizen to use the calculator.

What other financial advice is available?

Our expert advisers on the Macmillan Support Line can help you deal with money worries. This includes financial guides for guidance on your personal finance options, such as insurance, pensions, mortgages and tax.
We also have Energy Advisers, who can help you try to reduce your heating and electricity costs. If you are worried about debt, we can refer you to our charity partner StepChange Debt Charity for advice.

Booklets and resources

How to claim Universal Credit FAQs

You might have some more questions about claiming Universal Credit. We've answered some of the most often asked questions below. 

If you have a question that is not answered below, you can call our Macmillan Welfare Rights Advisers.

  • Can Universal Credit be backdated?

    Universal Credit can be backdated to cover up to one month before you started your claim. You will need to provide a good reason for not claiming earlier.

    Your claim will cover the date from when you submitted the application. Any owed Universal Credit will be backdated in your first payment.

  • Can I get help applying for benefits?

    Macmillan Welfare Rights Advisers are here to help you with your Universal Credit claim. They are trained to help you get the benefits you are entitled to and understand the benefits system for people living with cancer. 

    You may also be able to visit a Welfare Rights Adviser through a local service

    If you need help in another language, you can use our translation service to speak to our advisers. We also have information about claiming benefits translated into different languages.

    You can also contact Help to Claim Advisers for help with applying for Universal Credit. 

  • How do I close a Universal Credit claim?

    If your situation changes and you no longer need to claim Universal Credit, you will need to report this as a change of circumstance in your online account.

  • Can Universal Credit help with healthcare costs?

    If you receive Universal Credit, you might also be eligible for help with health costs. This includes free prescriptions, dental care and sight tests. 

  • Can I claim Universal Credit if I'm not a British citizen?

    If you are not a British citizen, you will need to check if your immigration status allows you to claim public funds. You will not be eligible if you:

    • have come from another country to live or work in the UK
    • are an asylum seeker.

    You may not be able to get some benefits straight away if you have lived abroad, even if you were born in the UK.

    Citizens Advice has information on claiming benefits if you are not a British citizen. You can also speak to our Macmillan Welfare Rights Advisers. Our support line has an interpretation service in over 200 languages. Call 0808 808 00 00 and tell us in English the language you want to use.

  • Can someone else claim Universal Credit for me?

    If you are unable to manage your Universal Credit claim on your own, you can ask someone to help you. You can: 

    • Ask a person or organisation to act as a 'representative'. This means that they can help you with a certain part of your claim. 
    • Select an 'appointee' to deal with your Universal Credit claim for you if you are unable to manage your own affairs. This can be another person or an organisation. They can manage all aspects of your claim for the whole duration of the process.

    Find out more about claiming on behalf of someone else on the GOV.UK website.

  • How does Universal Credit affect other benefits?

    When you start claiming Universal Credit, any other benefits or tax credits it replaces will stop. Universal Credit replaces:

    • Child Tax Credit
    • Housing Benefit
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Working Tax Credit.

    You should check your eligibility and seek advice from our Macmillan Welfare Rights Advisers before making a claim for another benefit.

  • Can my landlord see if I claim Universal Credit?

    Universal Credit will not tell landlords when tenants make a claim. The tenant will be paid Universal Credit directly and is responsible for paying their landlord. 

About our information

Universal Credit can vary depending on your individual or household circumstances. The information provided gives an overview of this benefit and should be used as a guideline. If you have any further questions or would like to discuss your personal circumstances further, and how they may impact a claim, then you can chat to a Macmillan Welfare Rights Adviser.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 May 2022
Next review: 01 May 2025
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