1. Statutory sick pay if you have secondary breast cancer
2. Benefits if you have secondary breast cancer
3. Carer’s Allowance
4. Can my benefits be fast tracked if I have secondary breast cancer?
5. Critical illness and secondary breast cancer
6. Reducing working hours or stopping working
7. Blue badge parking permits
8. Can I get free prescriptions if I have breast cancer?
9. Help with the cost of wigs, bras and prostheses
10. Where to find more information

1.Statutory sick pay if you have secondary breast cancer

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. You should check your contract or talk to your Human Resources (HR) department.

2. Benefits if you have secondary breast cancer

You may be able to claim welfare benefits because you have secondary breast cancer. Some benefits are means tested, which means your entitlement depends on your income. 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 for help with the costs.

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.

Getting expert advice

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 advisers by calling 0808 808 00 00.

Disability benefits

You may be able to claim the following disability benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance for adults under 65.

You may be able to claim PIP if you have breast cancer and are aged 16–64 years old. PIP is a benefit to help with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or disability.

Attendance Allowance

People over 65 claiming for the first time must claim 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 this, see the ‘how to claim’ section under the relevant allowance on the gov.uk website. You can also use a benefits calculators to get an estimate of what benefits and tax credits you could get.

Many people with secondary breast cancer are entitled to PIP or Attendance Allowance.

An additional mobility component can also be paid as part of PIP if you have problems planning and going on journeys or moving around. If you are approaching your 65th birthday it is important to begin the claim before then, as there is no mobility component in Attendance Allowance. Neither benefit can be backdated.

3. Carer’s Allowance

Depending on their circumstances your carer may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance if you are receiving a disability benefit. Contact a benefits adviser for further information.

4. Getting your benefits fast tracked under special rules

Some people diagnosed with secondary breast cancer may be able to claim PIP or Attendance Allowance (AA) under special rules so that the claim is fast tracked and paid at a higher rate. The special rules apply when a doctor has said there is a possibility that a person may not live for longer than six months. Claiming under the special rules requires your doctor to complete a DS1500 form and means you will not need to meet the usual conditions for getting PIP or AA or go to a face-to-face consultation.

Although no one can accurately predict the progress of the disease, people with secondary breast cancer are often encouraged to claim under these special rules to help their financial security. Claims are not affected for those who live longer than this. 

5. Critical illness cover and secondary 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.

6. Reducing work hours or stopping work

Some people decide to stop work when they find out they have secondary breast cancer, others like the routine and normality of work or cannot afford to stop working. However, some people aren’t able to work due to their symptoms or the effects of treatment.

Secondary breast cancer is a recognised disability so you have the right to ask your employer to make adjustments for you. For example, flexible working including working shorter days or part time. Talking to your employer about your options regarding certain benefits, such as pensions, life insurance, personal critical illness or mortgage protection may also help with your decisions about changes to your working pattern.

You may find it useful to discuss your options with an independent financial adviser.

Financial benefits and grants are there to make your life easier, and although they may not be your top priority, apply as soon as you feel able, even if you’re not sure you are eligible.

7. Blue Badge parking permits

You may be able to apply for a Blue Badge parking permit if your mobility is affected, for example by fatigue or pain.

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 a 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.

8. 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 team.

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

9. 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 getting financial assistance for post-surgery bras and mastectomy bras and breast prostheses »

10. Where to find more information

Macmillan Cancer Support produces a booklet called Help with the cost of cancer. This outlines the benefits and financial help available to people affected by cancer. They also provide welfare rights advisers who can help with questions about finances and benefits. They can tell you what local government assistance and benefits are available to you, your family and carers, and can also help you fill out benefit claim forms.

To order a free copy of the publication or speak to an experienced welfare rights adviser, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 or contact your local cancer information centre.

Your local Citizens Advice is also a good place to go for guidance.

Nurses involved in your care can also often help with financial information and form filling. A medical social worker will know what grants or other services may be available for you, and may help with the paperwork. To speak to a medical social worker, ring your hospital and ask for the social work department. If you’re attending a hospice there are usually social workers or benefits advisers who you can speak to.

Last reviewed: December 2018
Next planned review begins 2021

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