Financial support for patients and carers
Macmillan Benefits Advice Service
This service provides advice and information about benefits, employment and housing issues and aim to help people coping with cancer and to ensure that the patient, their family and carers receive everything to which they are entitled. Patients can be seen locally in Antrim Area Hospital or Causeway Hospital by the Macmillan Benefits Advisers.
T: 03001233233 M: 078 9528 7302
A social worker may also be able to give you advice on sources of financial help. The social worker is part of the multi-disciplinary team involved in your care.
Citizens’ Advice Bureau
Your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau can also give you financial and legal advice. www.citizensadvice.co.uk.
Benefits & grants
Financial support is available in the form of benefits and grants and there is a number of ways you can live on a reduced income and borrow money safely.
The Social Security Agency (SSA) is responsible for benefits in Northern Ireland. It has different offices that handle these benefits, including Social Security or Jobs and Benefits offices, the Disability and Carers Service, and the Pension Service. Freephone: 0800 220 674 www.nidirect.gov.uk
Improving Benefit Uptake
Information on services can be accessed on www.nidirect.gov.uk/unclaimed-benefits. Specific information on Improving Benefit Uptake can be found on www.dsdni.gov.uk, select Social Security Agency tab and then select Improving Benefit Uptake tab. Freephone: 0800 232 1271
Dependent on your income you may be entitled to a Macmillan grant which is a one-off payment for adults, young people or children with cancer, to cover a wide range of practical needs.
You need to apply through a health or social care professional, such as a social worker, district nurse, or a specialist palliative care nurse if you have one or a Macmillan Benefit adviser.
For people of working age
There are different types of financial help available to people under 65 years old. For more information, please visit the department for Social Development website (Social Security Agency section) or contact the benefits adviser who will be able to explain what benefits you may be entitled to given your specific situation.
The Disability Discrimination Act protects anyone in Northern Ireland who has a terminal illness. If you feel you have been discriminated in work because of your illness, please visit Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.co.uk.
For older people
If you are of pension age you may be entitled to certain benefits. For more information, please visit the Department for Social Development website (Social Security Agency section) or contact the Benefits Adviser who will be able to explain what benefits you may be entitled to given your specific situation.
For young people
CLIC Sargent gives grants to young people to help with immediate financial needs. Any family with a child or young person aged 24 or under who is receiving treatment for cancer or palliative care can apply. Applications need to be made through a CLIC Sargent social worker or healthcare professional. T: 0300 330 0803 www.clicsargent.org.uk.
Cancer Fund for Children
The Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children offers financial support to children and young people under 25, with cancer, and their families, throughout Northern Ireland. They offer help with travel costs and one off grants. T: 028 9080 5599 http://www.cancerfundfor/ children.com
Many people with a serious illness find they feel the cold more and are at home for longer periods of time. Help is available to help you improve the heating systems and insulation in your home.
When weather has been particularly cold (temperatures of 0 or lower for seven consecutive days), the government will automatically make a weekly payment of £25 to people who receive certain benefits. Cold Weather Payments will automatically be made on top of your usual benefits.
Winter Fuel Payment
Winter Fuel Payment is a government scheme to help older people keep warm during winter. A yearly payment is made to both men and women who have reached state pension age.
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The Warm Homes Scheme provides grants to people living in Northern Ireland who are receiving certain benefits to make energy-saving changes, such as putting in loft or cavity wall insulation to their homes. Freephone: 0800 988 0559 www.warm-homes.com
Speaking to your energy supplier
The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland has information about dealing with fuel bills. If you are living with a life-limiting illness, you should let your supplier know and they should then place you on the Priority Service Register, which gives you access to free extra services from your supplier. It also ensures your energy will not be cut off if you fall behind on your payments.
T: 028 9067 2488 www.consumercouncil.org.uk
Help with additional costs
For more information on help with these additional costs, contact the Macmillan Benefits Advisors. T: 028 9446 9944
Sorting out your affairs
If the costs of living with a serious illness have caused you to fall into debt, you can take the following steps to regain control of your finances. The charity Step Change Debt can help. Its purpose is to assist people who are in financial difficulty by providing free, confidential debt advice and no-fee debt solutions. Freephone: 0800 138 1111 www.stepchange.org
Making a will
A will is a way of making sure your wishes are carried out after you die. If you leave a will, your executor will carry out its instructions. An executor is someone you nominate to sort out your money and property after you die. It may be a relative or friend, or a professional person such as a solicitor or bank manager. http://www.lawsoc-ni.org/ http://www.clsdirect.org.uk/
Carers may face financial costs when they are caring for someone with a life-limiting illness, but there is help available.
If you need advice, please contact the Trust’s Carers Co-ordinator on 028 2766 1392.
Other sources of advice
Carers Allowance Unit , Benefit Enquiry Line, Disability and Carers Service, Pension Service, Advice NI (independent advice service).
You may be feeling unsure about whether to stay at work, leave or return to work. You may be self-employed and wondering if you can run a business and be a carer. Remember, you can take your time when making these decisions.
Speak to organisations that can give you independent advice. Having as much information as possible about your rights, who can support you and the options that are available to you is invaluable.
You will also find that speaking openly with the person you are caring for can help. They may surprise you with their thoughts on the situation. Many patients see that work is something that provides carers with a release from their caring role. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is the right thing for you as well as the patient.