Cancer can affect your usual income. It is important to make sure you have enough money coming in to cover what you need. This money could come from:

  • work
  • benefits
  • savings or investments 
  • insurance policies
  • pensions
  • grants.

Consider your current monthly income and expenses – and what they would be if you’re unable to work. If your income is low, you may be eligible for state benefits. This can also apply if you are elderly or a carer. If you have a health or life insurance policy, check whether you’re eligible for a pay-out. You may receive a lump-sum that you could invest or use to pay off debts.

Reviewing any savings and investments may help with their everyday management. You could decide to cash them in or stop payments if money is tight. Before cancelling any regular payments, check the terms and conditions for the savings account or investment.

You can use our online budget calculator to record all the income you get. Call our financial guides on 0808 808 00 00 for advice on planning your budget.


Work is the main source of income for many people. But if you are living with cancer, you may need to take time off. This could be for:

  • medical appointments
  • having or recovering from treatment
  • coping with emotional stress or side effects.

If you are caring for someone with cancer, you may also need time off work.

Your income may go down if you take time off. But everyone has certain rights at work, so doing this doesn’t have to mean your earnings will stop completely.

Tax rebates

If you stop working or your earnings drop, you may end up paying too much tax. If this happens, you may be able to claim a refund. This is called a tax rebate.

We have more information about work and cancer for employees, carers and employers.


Having cancer can change your financial situation. This may mean you are able to get benefit payments from the government.

Some parts of the benefits system in Northern Ireland are different from the system in England, Scotland and Wales.

If you are unable to work or have a low income

If your income is low, you may be able to get benefits.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to claim:

If you are struggling to meet your housing costs, you may be able to get other benefits.

If you are aged over 62, you may also be able to get state pension credit.

If you have care or mobility needs

Depending where in the UK you live, you may be able to claim:

Our welfare rights advisers can help you find out which benefits you may be able to claim. You can call them on 0808 808 00 00.

If you have an urgent claim

If you are terminally ill and are expected to live for less than six months, you can apply for some benefits under special rules. Your claim will be dealt with quickly and you will get any benefits at the highest rate.

If you look after someone with cancer

You may be able to claim:

If you get Carer’s Allowance, you will automatically get Carer’s Credit.

If you are self-employed

You can still apply for benefits already mentioned if you are self-employed, except for Statutory Sick Pay. You may qualify for other benefits depending on your personal circumstances.

If you are self-employed, you may have paid less National Insurance than someone with an employer. This could affect your claim for some benefits.

Contact our welfare rights advisers for advice on 0800 808 00 00.

Protecting your right to state benefits

Some state benefits are linked to how much National Insurance you have paid or been credited with. For example, State Pension.

National Insurance credits

There may be times when you are not paying National Insurance. This could be because: 

  • you are not at work because you are sick
  • you may be claiming state benefits for illness or disability. 

You usually keep getting National Insurance credits in these situations. These credits cover the contributions you couldn’t pay. They also protect your right to some state benefits.

There are different types of National Insurance credits depending on your situation.

If you have a gap in your National Insurance contributions, you could choose to pay voluntary contributions. 

Contact the HM Revenue & Customs National Insurance Helpline to:

  • get advice on National Insurance credits
  • find out if paying voluntary contributions could be worthwhile for you.

Call them on 0300 200 3503 or textphone 0300 200 3519.

Savings and investments

You may have savings set aside to cover the unexpected. If your income is affected by cancer, now may be a good time to use those savings. They could help you if your income has reduced or if you have extra expenses.

Before you use your savings, check if you can get extra income from:

  • your employer, if you have one
  • benefits
  • insurance
  • any other sources.

If you have a large amount in your savings or investments, you may be able to set them up so they pay out regularly. This way, your savings can provide you with a steady income.

Our financial guides can give you information about accessing your savings and investing to provide an income. You can call them on 0808 808 00 00.

Insurance policies

Health insurance

If you have health insurance, you may be able to make a claim because you have cancer. You might have purchased health insurance yourself, but health insurance cover may also be included in your work contract.

Life insurance

Some life insurance policies include a terminal illness benefit. This means the insurer will pay out the full amount of the insurance cover immediately if you are expected to live less than 12 months.

Check your work contract or speak to your HR department to find out if any insurance is available through your work.

Our financial guides can talk to you about insurance. Call them on 0800 808 00 00.


You may belong to a pension scheme. This may be the State Pension, or you might have a personal or workplace pension.

You can check how much State Pension you have already built up, and if you can get extra support alongside it.

If you have a personal or workplace pension, you might be able to get these pensions early.

If you are terminally ill

If you are seriously ill and expected to live less than 12 months, many pension providers have options that could give you a tax-free lump sum.

Finding old pensions

If you have lost the details of an old pension scheme, the Pension Tracing Service may be able to help you find the contact details.

Help with pensions

We have more detailed information about pensions that explains the current rules about pensions. Our financial guides can answer any questions you have about pensions or accessing your pension early. Call them on 0808 808 00 00.

The government has a scheme called Pension Wise, which gives free guidance on private pensions. You can call 0800 100 166 free to book an appointment with a pension specialist. Appointments usually last about 45 minutes and can take place over the phone or in person.

Pension Wise guidance specialists and Macmillan’s financial guides are impartial. They won’t recommend any products or companies, and won’t tell you how to invest your money. If you need help deciding on these things, you may wish to contact a financial adviser.

You can also get help from The Pensions Advisory Service.


Macmillan Grants are small, mostly one-off payments to help people with costs caused by or related to their cancer. Everyone’s practical needs are different, so grants are available for a variety of things. Whether you need extra clothing, help paying heating bills or even a relaxing break, you may be entitled to a Macmillan Grant.

Grants are also available from other organisations.

For more information about grants, contact a local welfare rights adviser or our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00.

Back to Planning and managing your finances

Assessing your finances

Cancer can lead to extra expenses. By assessing your situation, you can plan ahead to meet your needs.


If you are struggling to cover your essential costs, call us on 0808 808 00 00. You may be eligible for financial help.

Sorting out your affairs

Cancer has many financial effects. You may have several different issues on your mind – find out where to seek advice.

Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax is paid if your estate is worth more than £325,000 after your death. This includes property, money and possessions.