Going into Hospital. Money Matters

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1 Going into Hospital Money Matters Being admitted to hospital can be very upsetting. Money may be the last thing on your mind. But if you don t have a plan to deal with your money when you are in hospital, you could have debts to deal with when you leave. Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Allowance and Attendance Allowance stop if you are in hospital for 28 days. You can continue to get Housing Benefit for up to 52 weeks. If you get benefits, tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and your local authority if you go into hospital. If you don t tell the DWP that you are in hospital, they will continue to pay you the same amount. This means you may not be getting the right amount and you may have to pay some money back. You could make a plan with a relative or friend so they know what to do if you have to go into hospital. You should continue to pay your essential bills (such as rent, council tax, fuel and insurance). You could do this by direct debit. You could ask a relative or friend to manage and sort out your finances whilst you are in hospital If you cannot make financial decisions for yourself, someone may need to manage your finances for you.

2 This factsheet covers: 1. What happens when I go into hospital? 2. Should I tell anyone that I have gone into hospital? 3. What happens after 28 days? 4. What happens after 52 weeks? 5. How can I pay my bills if I am in hospital? 6. I can t afford my debts, what can I do? 7. What if I cannot look after my money? 1. What happens when I go into hospital? Going into hospital can affect your finances in a number of ways. You may find: your income may drop you may not be able to afford all of your bills and you may fall into arrears your benefit entitlement could change. or your doctor might think that you cannot make money decisions for yourself. This is called not having mental capacity. If you can t make decisions, someone else might have to do this for you. Work If you work but you have to take time off because you are unwell, you could be entitled to sick pay. Your employment contract may say how much your employer will pay you and for how long. This is called contractual sick pay. Often you may need to provide a fit note from a doctor to prove that you are unable to work due to ill health. If your contract does not mention sick pay, you may still be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). SSP is the minimum amount your employer must pay you if you are unable to work due to sickness. SSP is paid for up to 28 weeks. If you are absent for more than 28 weeks you will have to make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). If your sick pay is less than your normal income, you may be entitled to more benefits or tax credits. You might be entitled to Housing Benefit if you rent your home, as well as Council Tax Support. You should contact your local authority about these benefits. You may be entitled to tax credits and Income Support, depending on your circumstances. If you were already receiving tax credits, you should tell Her Majesty s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about the change in your income as they may change your award. The Tax Credits Helpline number is

3 Benefits If you get benefits, it is important to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you go into hospital. If you are too unwell to tell them, ask your carer or a relative to do it for you. You could also ask a health care professional, like a nurse, doctor or social worker to do it for you. Some hospitals wards have regular visits from benefits advisers who can give you advice and ensure the DWP knows you have gone into hospital. You can tell the DWP by telephone, but it is better to write. Keep a copy of the letter and get a certificate of postage from the post office (this should be free). This way the DWP can t claim that you haven t told them. While you are in hospital you will automatically meet the basic health criteria for claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). 1 If you are not already claiming this benefit, and are not getting sick pay, you could think about making a claim. Council Tax If your property is empty because of your stay in hospital it will be exempt from paying council tax. 2 You may also be permanently exempt from paying council tax if you get certain benefits and a doctor confirms you have severe mental impairment. 2. Should I tell anyone that I have gone into hospital? Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) As we mentioned above, you have to tell the DWP if you go into hospital. If you don t, they will continue to pay your benefits in the normal way. This might mean that you get money you aren t entitled to. If this happens, it is called being overpaid. If you have been overpaid, the DWP are likely to ask you for the money back. If you can t give it to them in one lump sum, they will generally take the money back from you in instalments. Normally they do this by deducting money from your ongoing benefits. This means you will get a smaller amount of benefit each week; however you will still have to pay for all your usual living expenses like your food, gas, electricity and travel costs.

4 Local authority If you are claiming Housing Benefit, you need to tell your local authority that you have gone into hospital. Your Housing benefit can be paid for 52 weeks if you go into hospital but you will need to tell them you have gone into hospital so they can start this period. You should also tell the local council so your property can be exempt from council tax, or so you can get extra help to pay your council tax. Your landlord If you rent from a private landlord or housing association you should normally tell them that you have gone into hospital so that they do not think you have abandoned your home. 3. What happens after 28 days? If you normally get Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Attendance Allowance (AA), these benefits stop once you have been in hospital for 4 weeks (28 days). If these benefits stop, your Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Pension Credit may also be reduced. This is because some premiums depend on your entitlement to disability benefits. When this happens, you or someone you know should tell your local authority. This is so they can look at your entitlement to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. If your carer gets Carer s Allowance, their entitlement to this will stop when your DLA, PIP or AA stops What will happen after 52 weeks? If you have been in hospital for more than 52 weeks then you are no longer entitled to Housing Benefit (HB) or Support for Mortgage Interest. This means you would have to pay the full rent or mortgage payments on your home. If you cannot afford to pay the rent or mortgage you could be evicted. If at any time in the 52 week period you spend one night at home the 52 week period will start again. Therefore you could receive HB for another 52 weeks. 4

5 If you live with someone else, they may be able to claim these benefits if they also have to pay the rent or mortgage payments. Premiums Sometimes if you are claiming benefits you get extra money added to your claim if you meet certain criteria. These are known as premiums. For example if you can claim the Severe Disability Premium on your Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you live alone and you are disabled. Some premiums can still be paid for 52 weeks if you go into hospital. After this time they will stop. This could mean that your benefit drops after you have been in hospital for 52 weeks, even if you are still eligible to receive benefits. Couples If you have a partner you will still be treated as a couple for benefits purposes for 52 weeks. After this time both of you will be treated as single claimants and you may need to reapply for benefits. Get advice from a welfare rights specialist if this applies to you, so you can understand what you need to do to make new claims for benefits. Income Support and Pension Credit If you receive Income Support or Pension Credit, this continues to be paid to you even if you are in hospital for over 52 weeks. However after this you will lose any disability premiums. This means the amount you get will be less. 5. How can I pay my bills if I am in hospital? There are some payments you make each month which are more important than others. Priority payments include rent, mortgage, council tax, gas, electricity, TV licence, Magistrate s court fines and hire purchase agreements. They are priorities because if you don t pay them, you could lose something important. For example, if you don t pay your rent you could lose your home and if you don t pay your electricity your supply could be disconnected. Payments to credit cards, unsecured loans, catalogues, overdrafts and store cards are non-priorities. If you can t afford to pay them your credit rating will be affected but you can t normally have anything directly taken away from you. It is generally possible to pay for most goods or services by direct debit or standing order. This is where money is taken directly from your bank

6 account and sent straight to whoever you need to pay, usually around the same time every week or month. If you go into hospital, as long as you have the money in your account, then you should carry on paying. If you can t afford your non-essential bills, you or a relative should write to the companies and explain why. Cancel any non- essential payments that are due to go out of your of your bank account. It is also possible to give someone else the right to access the money in your bank account. You would need to sign a third party mandate and give this to your bank. This would allow a friend or relative to withdraw money from your account and therefore be able to pay certain bills for you. 6. I can t afford my debts, what can I do? If you don t feel well enough to manage this, you could give permission to your carer to deal with the debts for you. This would involve writing a letter to the lender to confirm that you give your authority for someone else to deal with your affairs. There can be other options available for someone else to deal with your financial affairs You can find more about Options for Dealing with Debt at Or call and ask for the information to be sent to you. 7. What if I cannot look after my money? Sometimes if you go into hospital, you may have your mental capacity assessed. If you are deemed to lack mental capacity you will not be able to make decisions about your finances. If you lose mental capacity for financial decisions you will not be able to agree repayments, make benefit applications or withdraw money from your bank account. You can find out more about mental capacity and mental illness at Or call and ask for a copy to be sent to you. Go to for specific information about: Debt and Mental Illness Options for dealing with someone else s financial affairs

7 Mental Capacity and Mental Illness Options for dealing with debts Employment and Support Allowance Disability Living Allowance Personal Independence Payment Detention under the Mental Health Act Section 117- Aftercare Or call and ask for a copy to be sent to you. Department of Work and Pensions Leaflet - Going into hospital? (Reference GIHA5DWP) Department of Work and Pensions / JobCentre Plus Your local office number should be on any correspondence you have had with them. Alternatively, their contact details should be in your local telephone book. Disability Living Allowance / Attendance Allowance Helpline Telephone: Reg 21, Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 SI 2008/794 London: TSO; Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order SI 1992/558. London: TSO; Child Poverty Action Group. Welfare Benefits and Tax Credit Handbook 17 th Edition (2015 / 2016). London: Child Poverty Action Group; Page As note 3, at page 957.

8 Rethink Mental Illness 2015 Last updated June 2015 Next update June 2017 Version 5 This factsheet is available in large print. Last updated 01/10/2010

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