Money concerns, whether permanent or temporary, can be particularly stressful at a time when you feel less able to cope. Many people with breast cancer don’t claim benefits because they’re unaware of what they’re entitled to, are too embarrassed to ask for help, or find the system complicated.

1. Statutory sick pay
2. Can I claim benefits if I have breast cancer?
3. Critical illness cover and breast cancer
4. Blue Badge parking permits
5. Can I get free prescriptions if I have breast cancer?
6. Help with the cost of wigs, bras and prostheses
7. Benefits if you’re caring for someone with breast cancer
8. Benefits if you have secondary breast cancer
9. Where to find information about benefits and financial support

1. Statutory sick pay

If you’re employed and become sick you’ll probably be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks if you earn enough to pay national insurance contributions.

As part of your contract, your employer may also be required to pay you your normal salary for a number of weeks or months. Check your contract or talk to your Human Resources (HR) department to find out about this.

Find out more about breast cancer and employment »

2. Can I claim benefits if I have breast cancer?

You may be able to claim benefits if you have breast cancer. Several factors will be taken into account, such as your age and how much National Insurance you’ve paid.

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 can’t be backdated or can only be backdated for a short period. You may be able to claim some benefits even if you’re already receiving other benefits or income support.

  • If you’re no longer entitled to SSP or don't have a job, you can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit.
  • If you pay rent you may be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help with the cost.
  • You may be able to get help towards childcare costs through benefits such as Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. These are means-tested benefits for people on low incomes that are being replaced by Universal Credit, along with a number of other benefits. Means-tested benefits take into account your income and savings.

You can also use a benefits calculator to get an estimate of what benefits and tax credits you could get.

The benefit system can be confusing. Specialist help with financial issues is available for anyone with a diagnosis of cancer. For example, get individual advice from a Macmillan benefits adviser by calling 0808 808 00 00.

Read more about where to find expert advice and information »

If you have secondary breast cancer, you might find it useful to read our page on financial support and secondary breast cancer.

Disability benefits and breast cancer

You may be able to claim the following disability benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance

Both Attendance Allowance and PIP are tax free and non-means tested. Non-means tested benefits don’t take into account your income and savings. Attendance Allowance and PIP are paid on top of almost all other benefits, and may entitle you to other means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit, Income Support or Pension Credit.

For more information on these benefits, see the gov.uk website.

3. Critical illness cover and breast cancer

Some insurance policies and employment benefit schemes may cover you for critical illness. If you are unsure, check with your insurance provider or Human Resources (HR) department. Critical illness cover pays out a tax-free lump sum to help with the costs of a critical illness. Breast cancer is usually classed as a critical illness.

4. Blue Badge parking permits

You may be able to get a temporary Blue Badge if your mobility is affected. The Blue Badge scheme provides parking concessions for people with severe mobility problems who have difficulty using public transport. It can help the holder park close to a destination, whether they are the driver or passenger.

In England and Wales you can apply for a Blue Badge through your local authority and at gov.uk

There are separate websites for applications in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

Your local Citizens Advice or Macmillan benefits adviser may be able to help you apply for the Blue Badge.

There are alternative badge schemes for people with restricted mobility who are in areas where the Blue Badge scheme doesn’t apply. In London, there’s a Green Badge for Camden, Red Badge for the City of London, Purple Badge for Kensington and Chelsea, and White Badge for Westminster.

People with secondary breast cancer may be eligible due to their symptoms such as fatigue or pain.

5. Can I get free prescriptions if I have breast cancer?

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) when you pay. You will then be able to get a refund later. See nhsbsa.nhs.uk/help-nhs-prescription-costs for more information.

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.

6. Help with the cost of wigs, bras and prostheses

Entitlement to NHS wigs varies across the UK. You may be entitled to a free wig or help towards the cost of your wig.

Find out more about help with the cost of your wig »

Find out about financial assistance for post-surgery bras and mastectomy bras and breast prostheses »

7. Benefits if you’re caring for someone with breast cancer

Depending on their circumstances your carer may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance if you have substantial caring needs. Contact a benefits adviser for further information.

8. Benefits if you have secondary breast cancer

People with secondary breast cancer may be able to have benefits fast tracked under the special rules for terminally ill people.

Read more about finances and secondary breast cancer »

9. Where to find information about benefits and financial support

In the first instance, you may find it useful to speak to your employer or HR department, to find out what sick pay you are entitled to. It’s also worth talking to your treatment team, as they may be able to refer you to a welfare adviser or social worker at your local hospital (if they have one).

Citizens Advice can tell you what local government assistance and benefits may be available to you, your family and carers. They can also help you fill out benefit claim forms.

Macmillan Cancer Support offers free financial advice and support to people with breast cancer. They also produce a booklet, Help with the cost of cancer, which includes information on the benefits available for carers, help with housing costs, children’s needs and transport. For more information, speak to a Macmillan benefits adviser on 0808 808 00 00 or visit the website.

Last reviewed: December 2018
Next planned review begins 2020

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