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Topic Benefits advice

Read weekly blogs from benefits advisor Tom. Post questions, share experiences around financial support in the conversations, message Tom privately or book an online ‘live chat’ session.

  • 144 conversations

It's not her fault she has cancer!

Started by Anonymous on 05 April 2017 at 09:46
Edited on 05 April 2017 at 09:47

My sister has just been diagnosed with aggressive MDS and has been told to retire on medical grounds - five and a half years before state retirement age.  She knew things were going to be tough as she is facing a year in hospital, in isolation, on intensive chemo and a stem cell transplant.  What she has just discovered is that she will be entitled to £120.00 per week in benefits which will be taken of her whilst in hospital leaving her with no money.  She currently lives with her daughter, has no pension and all her money over the past 18 years has gone to support her grandchildren.  She has an interest in a property which is to be sold before the end of the year and the money used to buy a new home.  Can this info from the CAB possibly be correct?  Is it normal to be reduced to penury through illness?  All info would be greatly appreciated.

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  • Picture of Tombenefits
    From Tombenefits  
    05 April 2017 at 13:57


    Below is a two-part general answer to issues around benefits and stays in hospital. However, please feel free to message me for a private chat, both about benefits your sister could be entitled to and the specific impacts for her of the reductions in hospital

    1. Make sure to claim everything before going in

    The first thing to check will be that your sister gets all the benefits that she could before embarking on these many gruelling months. Many people miss out on benefits they could claim and that could help offset reductions in ones they do.

    The range of benefits that are most relevant to people affected by cancer can be found in the Maggie's Find out More About...series that you can download ftrom the page you get to by clicking here.

    You can find lots more information on each of these benefits in the Benefit Blogs available here. And of course, do feel free to message me

    2. Benefit reductions in hospital
    Benefits have always been affected by stays in hospital, starting with the extra "disability benefits", on the basis that extra care needs are provided by the hospital and that you may not be needing to get around that much. Of course life is not as simple as that...

    So Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - and its equivalents such as Attendance Allowance and DLA - are suspended after 4 weeks in hospital be that all in one go or in linked periods. And that in turn hits any carer receiving Carers Allowance.

    That AA, DLA or PIP can be restored during any time away from hospital - the claim is suspended not ended. You can't actually start a claim from in hospital, so it is worth setting up before going in, if there are enough qualifying difficulties.

    Things have got better in terms of other benefits which used to have cuts at several stages, but now remain mostly unaffected until 52 weeks have gone by. In general terms:

    All the other non-means tested benefits - eg Retirement Pension or Contributory ESA - are not affecte, however long the stay turns out to be, bar removal of any adult and child dpendant additions at 52 weeks

    Means tested benefits - such as Income-related ESA, Income Support and Housing Benefit lose severe disability premiums (related to PIP) at week 4 and carers premiums at week 12. Other amounts such as disabilty premiums oe ESA components stop at 52 weeks and couples have to start claiming singly at that point

    Sometimes, these premiums going can knock people off theese benefits and their automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit. They may then need to reclaim and still get most of the help they were getting. HB itself though usually stops at 52 weeks, but a trip out of hospital for an overnight stay at home can reset that particular clock.

    Increasingly, the sytem is expecting people to report changes and respond to letters emails ant texts. Time will tell if Universal Credit can behave themselves... A trusted friend or relative can help here.

    It's a big topic so I shall definitely add it to my "to do" list of Benefit Blogs :-) But as ever we can look at specific issues for your sister via messages or a Booked Benefits Session

    Best wishes


    Online Centre Benefits Adviser

  • Picture of SusieQ
    From SusieQ  
    05 April 2017 at 10:30
    Edited on: 05 April 2017 at 10:36


    This sounds an understandably worrying time for your sister. A year in hospital sounds a very long time - and would be unusual... although the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant may take many months of treatment.

    I dont know the answer to the financial aspects of your question, but I'm sure Tom (Tombenefits), our benefits advisor, will be able to help. (I'll alert him to your message).

    Hopefully, we can find some answers, and help ease your sister's concerns...

    Warm wishes



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