In this article:

The last thing you should have to think about when faced with a terminal diagnosis is “how am I going to pay my bills?” When you need to make your care and wellbeing a priority there’s help available. It’ll give you the opportunity to put financial worries aside and take the time you need to be with your friends and family. 

Here we’ll take you through some financial help for terminally ill people so you can see which options are available to you. 

What benefits are available for terminally ill people? 

Personal independence payment (also known as PIP) 

What is it? PIP is a benefit to help with the extra living costs of people who are terminally ill or who have a long-term illness or disability.

Who’s eligible? People who are 16 or over and under state pension age, whose illness or disability has made daily living or getting around more difficult. 

Is it means tested? It’s not means tested. This means that, the decision to give you the personal independence payment does not depend on your income or your savings.

Please note: adult disability payment is replacing PIP in Scotland. But the same eligibility rules apply.

Employment and support allowance (ESA) 

What is it? ESA is a benefit to help people with an illness or disability that makes it difficult or impossible for them to work. 

Who’s eligible? People who are 16 or over and under state pension age, whose illness or disability has made it difficult to work. 

Is it means tested? The new type of ESA is not means tested. So being entitled to it won’t depend on your income or savings.

Universal credit 

What is it? Universal credit is a benefit for people who are on a low income and have £16,000 or less in savings.

Who’s eligible? People who are 18 or over and under state pension age. 

Is it means tested? Yes – universal credit is means tested. This means your income or savings must be below a certain level for you to receive the benefit.

Attendance allowance 

What is it? Attendance allowance is a benefit for people who need extra help because of a disability, health condition or terminal illness.

Who’s eligible? People who are at state pension age or older. 

Is it means tested? No – it’s not means tested. So receiving the benefit doesn’t depend on your income or savings. 

Disability living allowance for children 

What is it? This is a benefit for children with a disability who need help to care for themselves or help getting around. 

Who’s eligible? Children who are 16 years old or younger.

Is it means tested? No – it’s not means tested. But the level of benefit you get depends on the specific needs of your child. 

Please note: child disability payment is replacing disability living allowance for children in Scotland. But the same eligibility rules apply. 

Special benefits rules for people with a terminal illness 

Did you know that there are special benefits rules for people with a terminal illness? This could mean that you get financial help quicker, or you may be entitled to more. Untangling all this info can be tricky. So we’ll run through this for you. That way, you know what the rules are and what you should ask about when applying for benefits. 

  • You must still fit the eligibility criteria for the benefit you’re applying for even if you make a claim under the special rules. Each benefit has different criteria so it’s worth checking this before you apply. 
  • You can apply for benefits under the special rules when you are terminally ill, and your doctor thinks you may have less than 12 months to live. (Your doctor can support you with you claim even if they are not exactly sure when you’ll pass away.) 
  • When you apply under the special rules, you’ll need to send an extra form to relevant government department. This is an SR1 medical report form or BASRiS form that will need to be filled out by your doctor. It’ll provide info about your medical condition and treatment to support your claim. 

Financial help for care at home 

If you or a family member has a terminal illness, then you might reach a point where you need additional care. Your GP or hospital doctor can refer you to a social worker who will be able to give you some advice on benefits you might be entitled to or grants that you qualify for.

You can also ask them for a care needs assessment. This assessment is usually carried out by your local council and will be done to figure out what additional help you need at home. This could be changes to your home such as a walk-in shower, or it could be day to day help from a carer, for example. 

Once you’ve had a care needs assessment, you’ll also have a financial assessment to see if the council will pay towards this for you. Generally, you’re expected to pay towards the cost of care. But if this isn’t an option for you then your local council should be able to help. 

Remember – throughout the entire process of being assessed you can have a friend or family member present with you to speak on your behalf or to help communicate your needs. 

Charities that offer advice on benefits for terminally ill people 

This can feel like a lot to process. So it’s worth getting extra help making applications to relieve some of the stress you’re under. Below is a list of organisations that support people when making benefit claims under the special rules: 

  • Turn2us – has a free benefits calculator that will help you figure out what you’re entitled to, and they also have info about grants you can apply for. 
  • Marie Curie – offers detailed info about each benefit and how to apply for it. There’s also a support line to help talk about what claims you can make on 0800 090 2309. 
  • Macmillan – offers a support line for people living with cancer. This includes welfare rights advice so that you can get the benefits you’re entitled to. 
  • Citizens Advice – can also offer impartial advice on claiming benefits and grants you may be entitled to. 

Is there any financial help for family or friends? 

There’s also financial help available for family or close friends who’ve taken on caring responsibilities for a loved one who’s terminally ill. These benefits include: 

  • Carer’s allowance – this is for people who are caring for someone for at least 35 hours a week, are aged 16 or over, and earn £139 or less per week. 
  • Carer’s allowance supplement (Scotland only) – this is an extra payment for those who are eligible for carer’s allowance and live in Scotland. 
  • Carer premium – if you already claim certain benefits such as ESA and income support this can be added to it when you have caring responsibilities for someone. 
  • Carer element – if you already claim universal credit this can be added to it when you have caring responsibilities for someone. 
  • Carer’s credit – this is a national insurance credit for people aged between 16 and state pension age who care for someone for at least 20 hours a week. 

Keep in mind that claiming for carer’s allowance can affect the benefits of the person you’re caring for. So it’s always a good idea to ask for help when making an application and go the government website for more info on getting financial help for terminally ill people.

Image by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.