How to sort out your money if you become ill or disabled
If you’re facing a health problem, the last thing on your mind may be your finances. However, to avoid money worries building up, try and sort out your money situation as soon as you can.
Make the most of your income
You need to check that you are getting all the income that’s available to you. This may come from:
- Your employer
- Benefits and entitlements
- Insurance policies
- Discounts on energy supply
- Your local council
- Charitable funding and grants
Help from your employer
Get Sick Pay
You can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks if:
- you’re employed – but unable to work
- your average earnings in the two months before you stopped working were at least £112 a week
The rate for SSP is £88.45 a week (2015-16). It’s paid by your employer in the same way as your wages.
Some employers have more generous sick pay schemes and others will assess cases individually.
Check the terms of your contract or the staff handbook to find out what’s available.
Ask for support so you can return to work
You have the legal right to ask your employer to make reasonable adjustments so that it’s easier for you to continue working. These adjustments could include:
- flexible working hours
- changing your responsibilities
- using specially adapted equipment – for example your computer, keyboard, telephone, chair or desk
Check your workplace pension
If you’ve been paying into a workplace pension, ask your employer or pension provider whether there are any ill-health benefits you might be entitled to.
If there are, find out how much they’re worth and how long they will last.
For example, you may be able to retire early if you’re unable to continue working.
Benefits and entitlements
Claim all the state benefits you’re entitled to
Did You Know?
In 2010, a group of charities estimated that more than £16 billion of benefits goes unclaimed every year.
If you have a health condition or are disabled, you could be entitled to benefits that will:
- help you with the extra costs of being disabled or having a long-term health condition – for example, Personal Independence Payment
- replace earnings – for example, Employment and Support Allowance
- top up your income – for example, tax credits
- help you with essential costs – for example, Housing Benefit
- allow someone who cares for you to claim Carer’s Allowance
Help with NHS health costs
Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whatever your age and circumstances.
Most people have to pay for prescriptions in England. If you’re on Income Support or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, your prescriptions are usually free.
If you live in England and you’re getting certain benefits you may be able to save money on help with health costs. These include:
- NHS prescriptions
- dental costs
- eyecare costs
- help with travel costs to hospital appointments
Claim on insurance
Check whether you have insurance policies that would cover your mortgage payments or replace some of your income. For example:
- income protection insurance
- short-term income protection insurance
- payment protection insurance
- mortgage payment protection insurance
- critical illness insurance
Protection is often offered with life insurance policies or mortgages.
Claim straight away – there’s usually a waiting period before the policy pays out, so the sooner you send your claim the better.
Contact your gas and electricity suppliers
Get in touch with your energy supplier as soon as possible. Tell them that you have a long-term health condition or are disabled and ask them if you qualify for the Warm Homes Discount.
You could get up to £140 off your electricity bill for Winter 2015/16.
If you tell your energy supplier about your health condition, they may also:
- register you for their priority service
- carry out free annual safety checks
- offer emergency call-out priority.
- protect you from being cut off if you fall into arrears
Find out if your local council can help
If your condition means you have difficulty getting around or doing day-to-day tasks your local council might provide support with things like:
- small adaptations to your home (like handrails on your bath)
- special equipment related to your illness or impairment
- shopping and cleaning
- personal care and day-to-day tasks
The first step is to get your needs assessed by your council.
Help with charitable grants
There are many organisations and associations who offer grants to people and their families to help them cope with a lower income and the extra costs being sick or disabled.
Grants may be available through a Trade Union or a benevolent association linked to the kind of work you do.
There are also organisations which give grants to certain groups of people, such as older people or those with a particular need.
Review your budget
If you are now going to have to manage on a lower income, it’s important to look at your budget straightaway to make the most of your income.
If you can’t manage your money alone
If your health condition or disability is making it difficult for you to manage your money on your own, you can ask someone else to help you.
Get emotional support
If you’ve recently become disabled, your life may have changed dramatically. You may want to make contact with others in a similar situation.
If you think your illness or disability is affecting your mental health make an appointment to see your GP.