Work and cancer financial issues

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1 Work and cancer financial issues This information is an extract from the booklet, Work and cancer. You may find the full booklet helpful. We can send you a copy free see page 7. Contents Taking time off sick Sick pay Statement of Fitness for Work Fit note Benefits Disability/life assurance and occupational pensions Information about financial issues More information and support Taking time off sick During treatment some people may try to continue to work, but may need to take a few days or weeks off. This may be as one period of sick leave, or could be a few days every month for a period of time. Some people choose or need to stop working throughout their treatment. This could be for a period of weeks, months or even years. When deciding whether you want to carry on working or whether you d like to take the whole time off sick, you may like to think about the issues below and also the financial considerations. It may help to contact an independent financial adviser (IFA) to get advice on your financial options. IFAs can assess your individual situation and recommend the best course of action. You can find a local IFA by referral from family or friends, looking in your phone book, or by contacting IFA Promotions or the Personal Finance Society at findanadviser.org If you have any private insurance cover for income replacement, life insurance, loan or mortgage protection Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 1 of 7

2 or critical illness cover, you should speak to your insurance company or financial adviser as soon as possible. You can get advice from your insurer or financial adviser about any conditions which apply to your life insurance or pension plans, such as being able to take a break from payments or a waiver of premium. A waiver of premium benefit means that the insurance company will pay the premium for you for a set period of time, for example, until you re fit to work or until the end of the policy. Sick pay Statutory Sick Pay All employees who earn enough money to pay national insurance contributions are eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay. It s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks of sickness. The standard rate of Statutory Sick Pay is currently a week. Statutory Sick Pay starts when you have been off work for four days and continues until you either return to or leave work, or until the end of the 28-week period. At the end of the 28-week period, your employer should complete a form SSP1 (Statutory Sick Pay Leavers Statement) and give it to you. This will explain that your Statutory Sick Pay is finishing and tell you where to get further help and advice about benefits. Periods of Statutory Sick Pay payment linked by less than eight weeks (56 days) are considered to be the same period of absence in other words, you need to be back at work for over eight weeks before you can claim again for the full 28 weeks of Statutory Sick Pay. How can I claim? You should tell your employer that you are sick no later than seven days after you first become ill. If you qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, your employer cannot pay you less. Occupational or company sick pay You may be entitled to this on top of Statutory Sick Pay check your employment contract or speak to your human resources department. Page 2 of 7 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

3 Statement of Fitness for Work Fit note If you re ill and not able to work for more than a few days, remember to ask your GP for a Statement of Fitness for Work often called a Fit note to cover the period of your illness. If you re in hospital, ask your doctor or nurse for a fit note to cover the time that you are an inpatient. This will be necessary if you need to claim a benefit. You may need to have a medical assessment to see if you are eligible to claim. Benefits Some of the benefits and allowances that you may be able to claim are detailed below. As benefits change from time to time, it s a good idea to get help from an experienced benefits adviser. To speak to one, call the free Macmillan Support Line on Employment and Support Allowance If you re still unable to work after receiving Statutory Sick Pay for 28 weeks, or your contract ends before that time and you are still unable to work, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance. This benefit provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability. It also provides personalised support to those who are able to work. Employment and Support Allowance has both a contributory part and an income-related (means-tested) part. People may get either or both depending on their contribution record and their income and capital. The assessment phase Employment and Support Allowance may be paid at a basic rate for the first 13 weeks of the claim. During this time, unless you are terminally ill, you may need to take part in a work capability assessment. This involves filling in and sending back a questionnaire about how your illness or disability affects your ability to complete everyday tasks. Your doctor may also be asked to complete a report. This evidence will be considered by an approved healthcare professional who may recommend you attend a face-toface assessment if more information is needed about your condition. If the work capability assessment shows your illness or disability limits your ability to work, you ll be placed into Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 3 of 7

4 one of two groups: the support group or the work-related activity group. The main phase If you still qualify for Employment and Support Allowance after 13 weeks, you ll enter the main phase of the benefit. If your illness or disability has a severe effect on your ability to work, you ll be placed in the support group and you won t have to undertake work-related activities. An additional payment is made to anyone in the support group. If your ability to work is limited, but not severely so, you ll be placed in the work-related activity group, and you ll have to attend six work-focused interviews. A smaller additional payment will be made to anyone in this group. If you are receiving intravenous (by injection into a vein) chemotherapy or are likely to receive it within six months, you will automatically be assessed as having limited capability for work and will be placed in the support group. If you re ill and unable to claim, remember to ask your GP for a medical certificate for the period of your illness. If you re in hospital, ask your doctor or nurse for a certificate to cover the time that you are an inpatient. This is necessary if you need to claim a benefit. Time-limits for Employment and Support Allowance Under the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the amount of time a person can receive contributory-based Employment and Support Allowance in the work-related activity group is limited to 12 months. After 12 months, the benefit will stop unless you claim and qualify for income-related Employment and Support Allowance or you request to be placed in, and are accepted for, the support group. If you think this may affect you, please speak to a welfare rights adviser as soon as possible. Disability Living Allowance This benefit is for people under 65 who have difficulty walking or looking after themselves (or both). To qualify, you need to have had difficulty walking or taking care of yourself for at least three months. These difficulties should be expected to last for at least the next six months. You need to make a claim before you turn 65, but if you re awarded the benefit, it will still be paid after you turn 65, provided you still meet the qualifying criteria. You don t need to have a carer to qualify for this benefit. If you are terminally ill, you don t have to meet the three-and six-month qualifying conditions. Page 4 of 7 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

5 As part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by a Personal Independence Payment for people of working age from April Everyone aged receiving Disability Living Allowance will be reassessed to see whether they are entitled to a Personal Independence Payment. Attendance Allowance This benefit is for people aged 65 or over who have difficulty looking after themselves. You may qualify if you need help with personal care, such as getting out of bed, having a bath or dressing yourself. The benefit is based on the amount of care you need and not any care you may currently be getting. You must have needed care for at least six months prior to making a claim, unless you are terminally ill. It s a good idea to get help filling in the claim form from an experienced benefits adviser. For an application pack, ring the free Benefit Enquiry Line (BEL) on or textphone You can also get a pack from your local Jobcentre, or visit direct.gov.uk/disabledpeople For more information about financial help and benefits, please see our booklet Help with the cost of cancer. Appealing against an unsuccessful benefit application If you ve been turned down for a benefit, tax credit or Social Fund payment, you may be able to appeal against that decision or ask for a review. You must do this within a certain time frame. This can be a complicated process, so please ask a benefits adviser for help as soon as possible. Call Macmillan on freephone to speak to a benefits adviser. Disability/life assurance and occupational pensions All life assurance, critical illness insurance and occupational pension schemes have different rules and operate in different ways. It s important to get independent financial advice to find out about the policies you may have and the best thing to do in your situation. For example, you may want to use a payout from an insurance claim or from severance of your employment to pay a lump sum off your mortgage. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 5 of 7

6 Life assurance policies If you have an existing life insurance policy and can t continue to pay your premiums, you can find out if a waiver of premium applies to the plan. This means the insurance company will pay the policy premium for you, for a time, if you re ill and unable to work. Different companies have different policies and the time they will pay the premiums may vary. If you need money urgently, you could talk to an independent financial adviser about your options. For example, you may be able to take out a loan against your life insurance policy, sell the policy or surrender the policy. However, you may find it impossible to take out a new life insurance policy for a few years after you have had cancer, so bear this in mind when planning your finances. Occupational pensions If you re paying into an occupational pension scheme, or are considering paying into one, make sure you have full information about the scheme. Your human resources department, trade union representative or pension scheme s trustees will be able to help. You have the right to leave or decide not to join a scheme, but always consider the implications carefully and take advice from an independent financial adviser before you make a decision. If you leave one job to go to another, there are several ways your pension rights may be dealt with. Find out what your options are from your new employer. You may want to discuss it with an independent financial adviser. If you ve had a temporary interruption of work due to sickness, find out how this affects your pension. There can be variations in the conditions which may affect your pension entitlement. Information about financial issues For more information about benefits and financial support, please call the Macmillan Support Line on You can also find out more about benefits from Citizens Advice citizensadvice.org.uk You will usually need to make an appointment. Or you can get information from the Benefit Enquiry Line on , the Directgov website at direct.gov.uk or nidirect.gov.uk if you live in Northern Ireland. Page 6 of 7 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

7 Information in other languages The Benefit Enquiry Line has some advisers who speak other languages and can also arrange to give information through interpreters. Benefit information in other languages is available on the Department for Work and Pensions website at dwp.gov.uk under the A to Z of DWP information products. The Macmillan Support Line on also has an interpretation service in over 200 languages. The hospital social worker can give you advice on sources of financial help. A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need is a book which gives details of all the trusts and organisations that provide financial support. It s available from bookshops or local libraries. Remember that a change in your circumstances (such as a reduction or increase in your salary or in the number of hours you work) can mean you re entitled to more or less benefit. You need to find out in detail the regulations and conditions that apply to your benefits. We have a range of financial booklets which we can send you for free. These include information about day-to-day finances, managing debt and travel insurance. More information and support Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way, from the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment to the campaigners improving cancer care. We are Macmillan Cancer Support. To order a copy of Work and cancer or one of the other booklets mentioned in this information, visit be.macmillan.org.uk or call We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate but it should not be relied upon to reflect the current state of medical research, which is constantly changing. If you are concerned about your health, you should consult your doctor. Macmillan cannot accept liability for any loss or damage resulting from any inaccuracy in this information or third party information such as information on websites to which we link. Macmillan Cancer Support Registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). Registered office 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UQ REVISED IN MAY 2012 Planned review in 2013 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 7 of 7

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