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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

Financial Support

Started by Anonymous on 11 July 2017 at 16:43

I have recently been diagnosed with throat cancer. I have no idea how to go about getting financial help. I wouldn't even know where to start. My wife only works 15 hours per week.

I've been working self employed and have insufficient National Insurance Contributions

Any advice would be appreciated.

Many Thanks


Comments (2)

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  • Picture of Tombenefits
    From Tombenefits  
    12 July 2017 at 11:51
    Edited on: 12 July 2017 at 11:58

    Hi John,

    I'm Tom, the Online Centre's Benefits Advisor.  I will just offer a a general reply , lest it help other readers here in this public conversation, but I will also message you privately to look at things more specifically in your situation.


    1. Tiptoeing through the benefits maze

    At first sight, the benefits system can seem like a rather chaotic and changing maze with so many different exits and entrances and ways in and out. For a handy "see the woods for the trees" overview, you may find it useful to look at the two Maggie's Find Out More About sheets that you can download from the page here

    Some benefits will be directly related to you being unwell -

      -Contributory (or in some areas "New Style") Employment and Support Allowance (C-ESA) is a basic income to live on that does depend on NI contributions; and

      - Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is an extra amount to help with the additional costs of daily living and getting around that doesn't. 

    Others would be claimed jointly with your partner and would also depend on your income and savings:

      - Income Support (and its variations Income-related ESA and Income-based JSA) top up other income and benefits or can be paid instead.

      - Tax credits help those where someone is in paid work and help all parents with children or teenagers lying about the place :-)

    Other income-related benefits can help with specific bills: Housing Benefit to help with rent, council tax support to help with council tax and extra amounts in the benefits in the previous paragraph to help with mortgage interest.

    All of the benefits in the last two paragraphs - bar help with council tax - are being gradually merged into a single Universal Credit, . Whether you claim under "old" system and the "new" depends on where you live.

    There is also help availble with health costs - prescriptions in England, dental and optical treatment and fares to hospital across the UK.

    Most benefits are available to the self employed the only exceptions being Statutory Sick Pay and Jobseeker's Allowanc.


    2. National Insurance contributions

    You mention gaps in your National Insurance record. This will affect your eligibility for some but by no means all benefits. In particular Contributory ESA - an important non-means tested benefit that you could claim in your own right and that would be paid regardless of your wife's earnings.

    For a claim at any point in 2017, you would need a full record of payments or NI credits for the tax years April 2014/15 and 2015/16. However, if there are gaps then you can backpay the missing contributions, which can be a very worthwhile investment. Once paid up, then you can start a claim 6 weeks after that payment.


    3. PIP and Carers Allowance

    PIP is also unnaffected by other income,  but you don't need any NI contribution. Entitlement isn't automatic with a cancer diagnosis but many people needing a fair amount of active treatment will qualify. It will depend on what theyare saying about your cancer, treatment plans and how this affects you.

    A successful PIP claim would also allow your wife to claim Carers Allowance as she is working less than 16 hours.


    4. Where do we go from here?

    In the short term, until NI contributions and PIP can be sorted out, we can look at your current joint income and whether any of the low income benefits might apply. These do not require any NI contributions.

    So do have a look at the Maggies Find Out More Abouts as these brief summaries can give a bit more of a sense of what and who the different benefits are for and how they fit together. 

    I will message you so that we can explore the sums for immediate help now and ways forward with the ESA and PIP more specifically and confidentially.

    It still is a bit of a maze - and a changing and rather chaotic one at that - but there is real financial support out there.

    Best wishes,



  • Picture of SusieQ
    From SusieQ  
    12 July 2017 at 10:07

    Hello John,

    Welcome to Maggie's Online Centre. You're wise to check out the financial concerns early you may soon be embarking on treatment. Things may feel up in the air at the moment, with the news of your recent diagnosis - especially as you're self employed.

    I'm not the expert on this, so will leave my colleague, Tom (Tombenefits) to get in touch - and help with some advice...

    In the meantime, message Robyn or myself anytime, if you'd like to talk through your situation or have any non-financial questions...

    Warm wishes


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