Claiming benefits

Claiming benefits may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to apply as soon as you feel able (even if you’re not sure that you’re eligible) because many benefits cannot be backdated or can only be backdated for a short period. Several factors are taken into account when assessing whether or not you’re eligible for benefits. They include your age, how much National Insurance you’ve paid and how long you’ve been ill.

Some benefits are paid in addition to other benefits or other income you already receive, to top up your income to a minimum level. These are called means-tested benefits and depend on your circumstances, income and savings.

Macmillan’s information about benefits and financial support can help you find the financial support you may be entitled to.

Prescription charges across the UK

People in England being treated for cancer are entitled to all their prescriptions free of charge. To show you’re eligible for free prescriptions you need to apply for an exemption certificate (FP92A) from your GP or hospital.

The certificate means that you will not have to pay any charges for prescriptions for five years. You can renew your application after five years if you’re still having treatment for:

  • cancer (includes tamoxifen or other hormone therapies and lymphoedema garments)
  • the effects of cancer (includes pain relief and effects directly related to cancer that did not exist before the cancer diagnosis such as a change in mental health)
  • the side effects of cancer treatment (includes all side effects of chemotherapy or late effects caused by radiotherapy). 

If you have to pay a prescription charge while you’re still waiting for your exemption certificate, you should ask the dispenser for an NHS receipt (FP57). This is also a refund claim form.

People aged 60 and over do not have to pay NHS prescription charges in England and do not need to apply for the certificate.

In Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland, prescription charges have been completely abolished.

Related links

Fit for work

Macmillan Cancer Support

Citizen's Advice (CA)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Attendance allowance

BECCA, our free app with tips on life beyond breast cancer

Last reviewed: February 2016
Next planned review begins February 2018

Your feedback