Finances and benefits

Money can be one of the biggest worries when someone becomes ill. Your financial circumstances may change dramatically and you may be worrying about how to pay for essentials like your rent, council tax or mortgage. Your costs may also increase with higher heating bills or travelling to appointments and you yourself may be having to reduce your working hours or stop work.

We can offer help to understand your entitlements and support for navigating the process.

Welfare Rights Team

Dorothy House has a Welfare Rights Team, in partnership with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Macmillan. They will look at maximising your income through benefits and grants and reducing expenditure through debt advice and fuel tariffs, for instance.

If you are employed you have rights that are covered by legislation. Our Welfare Rights Team will look at your financial position, entitlements and pension rights.

You may have to handle the finances of the person you care for. Planning ahead can help you avoid difficulties in the future. The Welfare Rights Team can advise on bank accounts, Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, marriage and civil partnerships, and so on.

Help from the team can extend beyond bereavement. Talk to our Welfare Rights Team for further advice about any financial, employment and legal matters. Your Dorothy House contact or the Family Support Team will be happy to make a referral to them.

Help with managing your money

If you need help to pay bills and manage your money, there are a number of options.  We have summarised them below, but there is more information on the Citizens’ Advice Bureau website.  The website also has links to many of the the relevant forms
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Third-party mandates
You can sign a third-party mandate which authorises your bank or building society to accept instructions from another person you trust. You can decide what you want that person to be able to do and it may include viewing and making payments from your bank account. You should speak to your bank about setting this up.

Joint accounts
You may decide to set up a joint account with a trusted friend of family member so that they can access and help manage your money.

Managing benefits payments
If you receive benefits and these are paid into a Post Office account, you can nominate someone to have access to your account as well.

If you want someone to help with all aspects of managing your benefits, not just collection payments, you can ask the Department of Work & Pensions to make that person your Appointee.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people as your ‘attorney’ to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. You must be 18 or over and have mental capacity (the ability to make your own decisions) when you make your LPA.

There are two types of LPA.  You can choose to make one type, or both:

  • Health and welfare:  This gives your attorney power to make decisions about your medical treatment or care.  It can only be used when you’re unable to make a decision.
  • Property and financial affairs:  This gives your attorney power to make decisions about your money and property.  It can be used as soon as it is registered with your permission.
    Each takes several weeks to be finalised.
    You can find more information here:https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/overview

Ordinary (or General) Power of Attorney
This is a legal arrangement when you nominate someone to make financial decisions, and manage your finances (such as accessing your bank account, paying bills) on your behalf. It is usually short term and you can cancel it at any time. An Ordinary Power of Attorney will become invalid if you lose the ability (or mental capacity) to make decisions about your money. Ordinary Power of Attorney is straightforward to set up, but some banks may not accept the authorisation, so it is worth checking with them first.

You can buy Ordinary Power of Attorney forms or you can ask a solicitor to set one up.

Deputyship
Some people may lose the ability to make decisions about their money through illness or disability. This is known as losing the ‘mental capacity’ to make a decision. If they have not arranged a Lasting Power of Attorney and need help to manage their money, a formal application can be made by (a member of the family) a formal application to the Court of Protection to act as their deputy. This can take several months and the court will need evidence that the person has lost the mental capacity to make the relevant decisions. You may want to seek further advice from a solicitor.

Debt advice
There are a number of organisations that can provide debt advice and some are listed below. It is very easy for debts to spiral out of control and, if you are unwell, some creditors will be willing to write debts off or to freeze interest and charges.
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
https://www.nationaldebtline.org/EW/Pages/default.aspx
https://www.stepchange.org/
https://capuk.org/

 

Benefits for patients and carers

Benefits are complicated and it is important to get advice to make sure you are receiving everything you are entitled to.

If you are on a low income there are benefits which may help.  These vary depending on where you live and your age. Our Welfare Advice Team can help you find your way through the benefits maze and there is some general information below.

There is general information about government benefits here:
https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits

Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefits are administered by your local council:
http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/council-tax-benefits-and-grants
http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/benefits-housing-benefit
http://www.mendip.gov.uk/housingbenefit

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance (AA)
PIP and AA are benefits for people who are ill or disabled to help pay for additional living costs.  They are not means tested. PIP is for people who are under 65 and AA for those who are over 65.
https://www.gov.uk/pip/overview
https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance/overview

PIP has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for all new claimants aged between 16 and 64. Anyone already on DLA will be transferred on to PIP even if they have an indefinite award.

If you already receive DLA for a pre-existing condition, you cannot increase your DLA award and you have to apply for PIP. Our Welfare Advice Team can provide advice about this as many people do not want to lose their DLA even if they might get a higher award under PIP. You can get PIP and AA more quickly if you’re not expected to live more than six months. You need to ask your doctor or a health professional to fill in a form called a DS1500 and send this in when you apply for AA or PIP.

Carer’s Allowance
If you care for someone for more than 35 hours a week, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance. To be eligible:

The person you care for

  • must receive a Disability Living Allowance (at least middle rate care), Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance.

You must

  • be under pension age (ie not getting a State Retirement Pension)
  • not be a student
  • have an earned income of less than £110 a week (unless you are in a Universal Credit full rollout area)

Carer’s Premium
If you are caring for someone and you are receiving your State Retirement Pension, you won’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance, but you may qualify for Carer’s Premium. This is means tested and is a premium added on to Pension Credit.

Blue Badges
You may be entitled to a Blue Badge which will make parking easier and reduce your costs. You can qualify automatically through the mobility component of PIP or if you are terminally ill. Processes vary depending on your council.

Continuing Healthcare (CHC) benefits

If you are awarded CHC funding (NHS funding based on health needs, it is not means-tested). CHC is paid from the local Clinical Commissioning Group. CHC can pay for your care in a hospice, in a nursing home, or in your own home. If CHC fund your care this may affect benefits which are in place. CHC funding is paid direct to the provider of the service (a nursing home) unless you receive the care at home, when it can be paid direct to the provider of the service (care agency) or through a Personal Health Budget (usually managed by a family member).

If you have been self-funding, or have contributed to your funding, in a residential or nursing home and you will be CHC-funded in a nursing home
If you receive one of the following disability benefits – Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – and will receive CHC funding in a nursing home, notify the Disability Benefits Centre. Your benefit is suspended 29 days after the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) begins to fund your care or sooner if you have recently been in hospital.

If you live at home but will be CHC-funded in a nursing home
If you have been claiming a disability benefit whilst at home, you must notify the Disability Benefits Centre. Your benefit is suspended 29 days after the CCG begins to fund your care or sooner if you have recently been in hospital.

Disability Benefits Centre 

Attendance Allowance:
Telephone: 0345 605 6055
Textphone: 0345 604 5312
Next Generation Text (NGT) relay service Dial: 18001 then 0345 605 6055

Disability Living Allowance
If you were born on or before 8 April 1948
Telephone: 0345 605 6055
Textphone: 0345 604 5312
Next Generation Text (NGT) relay service Dial: 18001 then 0345 605 6055

If you were born after 8 April 1948
Telephone: 0345 712 3456
Textphone: 0345 722 4433
Next Generation Text (NGT) relay service Dial:

Personal Independence Payment
Telephone: 0345 850 3322
Textphone: 0345 601 6677
www.gov.uk/disability-benefits-helpline

State Pension
State Pension is not affected by eligibility for NHS CHC funding.

Pension Credit
You lose the severe disability element of your Pension Credit award if no longer entitled to Attendance Allowance (AA) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component.

Carer’s Allowance
If your circumstances change – eg you are no longer providing 35+ hours care a week – notify the Carer’s Allowance Unit:
Tel: 0345 608 4321
Textphone: 0345 604 5312
www.gov.uk/carers-allowance-unit

Housing Benefit
Whilst the patient is in receipt of ‘approved medical care’ Housing Benefit (HB) can continue for 52 weeks. Hospice qualifies as ‘approved medical care’. It is not affected by any CHC application.

Bereavement benefits

If your husband, wife or civil partner has died, you may be able to claim bereavement benefits.

Bereavement Payment is a tax-free lump sum of around £2,000 which you can claim if
•    your civil partner, husband or wife paid National Insurance contributions
•    you were under state pension age when they died or your wife, husband or civil partner was not entitled to Category A State Pension when they died.

Widowed Parent’s Allowance of around £100 a week is paid if you have dependent children and your partner has died. It is payable until your youngest child leaves full-time education or you co-habit with someone else. You can claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance if:
•    you’re under state pension age
•    your wife, husband or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions
•    you’re receiving Child Benefit.
The amount you get depends on the National Insurance contributions paid by your partner and is taxable.  The scale is from around £30 – £100 a week.

Bereavement Allowance is a weekly amount paid for 52 weeks from the date you were bereaved if:
•    your husband, wife or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions
•    you were under state pension age when they died.
The amount of Bereavement Allowance you get depends on your age and your partner’s National Insurance contribution record, and it is taxable.
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/
www.gov.uk/browse/benefits

Bereavement Benefits can be claimed on a BB1 form which can be downloaded:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bereavement-benefits-claim-form

Or you can ring the Bereavement Service helpline on 0345 606 0265 (textphone 0345 606 0285).

If you need help with the forms, please speak to your Dorothy House worker or contact the Welfare Advice Team.

If you receive Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance, your tax code may need to be amended if there is an increase in your taxable income. This should happen automatically:
https://www.gov.uk/death-spouse-benefits-tax-pension

Bereavement Support Payment is a new benefit which will replace Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance for those whose spouse or civil partner dies on or after 6 April 2017.

These changes will not affect those already in receipt of bereavement benefits, who will continue to receive their current benefit for the natural lifetime of the award.

Bereavement Support Payment

  • will not be taxable
  • will not be included in the assessment of benefit income which will be subject to the household benefit cap
  • will be subject to a disregard in the calculation of income-based benefits.

Additionally, Bereavement Support Payment will not affect the bereaved person’s concurrent entitlement to contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

Unlike the current bereavement benefits, a bereaved person who remarries or re-partners will be able to keep their Bereavement Support Payment.

 

Other benefit information

If you are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, this will continue to be paid for eight weeks after your bereavement.

If you receive Child Benefit and your wife has died, you will need to reclaim it as the claims in your late wife’s name will be closed: https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit-child-parent-dies/if-one-or-both-parents-die

If  you receive any letters from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about overpayments of someone’s benefits after they have died, you are not obliged to pay these as they are a debt of his/her estate.   The Welfare Advice Team can write to the DWP on your behalf advising that the monies were used towards funeral costs.

Tell Us Once service
If you use the Tell Us Once service they can put you through to the claim line.
https://idp-death-tellusonce.direct.gov.uk/Death/Enrich/BeforeYouStart?wa=wsignin1.0&wtrealm=urn%3aTellUsOnce%3arealms%3aTuoCitizenSts&wctx=6c665d63-fc17-4a28-a4f0-706a4ba986b8&wct=2017-02-23T10%3a26%3a12Z&wfresh=0&whr=urn%3aTellUsOnce%3arealms%3aTuoCitizenIdp

The Tell Us Once service lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. When you register the death the registrar will:
•    let you know if the service is available in your area
•    give you the phone number
•    give you a unique reference number to use the Tell Us Once service online or by phone.

Working and caring

Juggling work and caring is not easy. You may feel your only option is to give up work. It’s important to think about how this will affect your life, and to consider the social aspects of being at work. Initially it may be a good idea to think about reducing your hours to better balance your work with caring.

You have the right to take a ‘reasonable amount’ of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant – it is up to your employer whether this is paid or unpaid. You also have the right to ask your employer for flexible working, such as part-time hours or working from home. It is important to think about your needs as a carer and the needs of the job, before making a request.

Tell your employer you are looking after someone. Think about your needs and how your employer could support you. This might include:

  • Days off for emergencies and appointments
  • Working part-time or different hours
  • Working from home occasionally.
Legal matters

Making a Will
If someone dies without leaving a will, dealing with their estate can be complicated. It may mean their wishes are not followed. Try to encourage the person you care for to think about what they would like to happen to everything they own after their death.

 

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to act on behalf of another person if they lack capacity to make decisions. There are two types of LPA:

  • Finance LPA allows you to make decisions about the person’s money
  • Welfare LPA allows you to make decisions about their care and treatment.

However, an LPA can be expensive and may be unnecessary. Ask your solicitor or the Family Support Team for advice.

 

Marriage and civil partnership
If you and your partner are not married this can impact bereavement benefits and inheritance issues. Ask for help and advice.