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Benefits Blog

by Tombenefits

news and thoughts from the world of welfare rights
17 May 2011 at 17:29

Benefits whilst in hospital

From time to time, some people with a cancer diagnosis find they need a stay in hospital, whether for surgery, other treatments or indeed sometimes as a result of treatment - e.g. because of an infection during chemotherapy.

The vast majority will be home again long before their benefits are affected by their admission, but I thought it might be useful to explore what the rules are here - if only to reassure you that there's usually no need to worry...

 

Going in to hospital

Whether it's a planned or unplanned admission, the responsibility is yours for letting the offices who deal with your benefits know.

You need to inform each of the offices that deals with your claims, so for example you might be needing to tell one centre that pays your ESA, another that pays your DLA and the local Authority in connection with your Housing or Council Tax Benefit. If you're unable to do this yourself then a relative, friend - or even the hospital - can do so on your behalf.

During a hospital stay, different things happen to your benefits after different periods of time. Everything but Jobseekers' Allowance however remains unchanged for 28 days, so as a rule of thumb unless you are on JSA, you needn't be concerned unless you're likely to be in for more than four weeks.

It becomes a bit more complex when you have repeated admissions over a short period of time, because admissions which are separated by less than 29 days are added together - e.g. if you're in for seven days, followed by three weeks at home, but then get re-admitted, the new admission gets added to the old, so that your benefits might start being affected after 21 days.

After 29 consecutive days have passed at home though, the clock goes back to zero, no matter how many admissions you have had.

To make things even more complicated, different benefits treat how they count days differently! For the purposes of DLA and Attendance Allowance, both the day you go into hospital and the day you come out are counted as days at home, whereas for all the others, the day you go in counts as a day at home but the day you come out counts as a day in hospital...

What follows is, I'm afraid, going to be a bit of a long list. Unfortunately there's no other way of breaking things down!

 

Jobseeker's Allowance

JSA of either the contribution based or income based varieties stops after two weeks in hospital. You should consider claiming Employment and Support Allowance if you are in this position. You will be treated as passing the medical tests for during days spent as a hospital in-patient.

 

Statutory Sick Pay

SSP is not affected at all by hospital, but runs out after 28 weeks. In this situation you will usually be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance instead.

 

DLA and Attendance Allowance

These benefits stop for adults after 28 days but continue for twelve weeks for children. However if within your DLA Mobility Component award you have a Motability agreement, then the DWP will continue making payments to them for the duration of the agreement. The same applies if a child's Mobility award is used to pay for a vehicle.

 

Carer's Allowance

If the carer is the person who is in hospital, then it continues until they have been there for twelve weeks. Carer's Allowance paid to a carer to look after someone who has gone into hospital stops if the person looses their DLA - i.e. after 28 days if the person being looked after is an adult or 12 weeks if a child. However the Carer's Premium, within certain means tested benefits can go on being paid longer - see below.

 

Contributory ESA, Incapacity Benefit, State Retirement Pension, Severe Disablement Allowance and Bereavement benefits...

These all continue unchanged, although some are reduced after 52 weeks - e.g. adult and dependant additions paid within these benefits stop, and the 'Component' elements of ESA are lost.

 

Income Support and Income related Employment and Support Allowance

After 28 days, if you get the 'Severe Disability Premium' within either benefit then this will stop as a consequence of your DLA stopping. If this happens and the difference it makes is enough to take you off Income Support or Income related ESA altogether, then you might also find that you need to re-claim Council Tax Benefit/ Housing Benefit direct from your local authority, as you will no longer be 'passported' to entitlement to them.

If you get a Carer's Premium added to your benefit for looking after someone who goes into hospital, then this can continue for eight weeks after the person you look after loses their DLA or Attendance Allowance - i.e. after 12 weeks in total for an adult, or 20 weeks if you usually care for a child who is in hospital.

A Carer's Premium added because the person who is in hospital is a carer is lost after 12 weeks.

After 52 weeks, things get a bit more complex depending on whether you claim as a single person or as a couple in that beyond this length of time, members of a couple have to start claiming as two individuals, unless discharge is imminent - get advice.

Any Enhanced Disability Premium paid within these benefits, along with either the Disability Premium within Income Support or the 'Component' elements of ESA stop after 52 weeks.

Amounts paid towards your mortgage interest will stop at this point too, although they can be paid to someone else with liability to pay it - again get advice.

 

Pension Credit

Pension Credit behaves in a very similar way, with the amount for Severe Disability disappearing after 28 days and the amount for being a Carer being affected as above. Similarly to the advice for Income Support and Income related ESA, if these changes bring you off Pension Credit Guarantee then you may have to re-claim Housing and Council Tax Benefits.

Couples claiming Pension Credit will also have to claim separately after a year, and the same rules as outlined above for amounts for mortgage interest apply.

 

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

The benefits can both continue to be paid for up to 52 weeks provided you intend to return within that year or shortly afterwards - get advice if you run into any difficulties. However as explained above, you may find yourself needing to make new claims based purely on income grounds if, as a result of losing other benefits you are no longer automatically 'passported' to Housing or Council Tax Benefit.

If it looks likely that you are going to be in hospital beyond 52 weeks but still hope to go home eventually, then get advice.

 

Tax Credits

Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit are theoretically unaffected by hospital admissions although a child who has been in hospital for a year or more cannot be included in your claim and problems may arise if your hours of work are needed for the 'working sixteen hours or more' condition of getting Working Tax Credit. Get advice - you may find that you are eligible for other benefits instead.

 

Coming home from hospital

Just as it was necessary for you to inform various offices of your admission, it's also up to you to tell them that you're home again. You should find that you return to any benefits (or elements of benefits) you have lost fairly easily - if there are any hiccups get advice!

You don't need to wait until you're actually home to tell them - in fact if you've had a longish admission it's probably wise to let them know beforehand so that they can dust off their files!

Remember too - if you have had a longer admission - that one of the 'grounds' for being able to get a Community Care Grant within the Social Funds is to re-establish yourself in the community following a stay in hospital.

Well, some sunshine's tapping at the window, reminding me of what it looks like, so I'll close on that thought and go and show it some encouragement! My best wishes until my next blog - although do please feel free to get in touch in between if you need to.

Jude

 



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