How to sort out your money if you become ill or disabled

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service

Money Advice Service

If you’re facing a health problem, your finances may be the last thing on your mind. However, to avoid money worries building up, try and sort out your money situation as soon as you can.

Find out if you can get sick pay, sickness benefits or disability benefits. This guide also covers support from your local council, and where to get help with everyday costs like prescriptions, electricity and gas.

Help from your employer

Get sick pay

If you are unable to work due to ill health, you might want to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You can get SSP for up to 28 weeks if:

  • You’re employed – but unable to work.
  • Your average earnings are at least £120 a week.

The rate for SSP is £96.35 a week (2021/22). 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.

Find out more about claiming SSP for reasons linked to coronavirus in our Coronavirus SSP guide.

Find out more about Statutory Sick Pay on GOV.UK.

If your employer is refusing to pay Statutory Sick Pay

If you’re employer refuses to pay SSP, or is not paying you the full amount, you should contact the HM Revenue and Customs statutory payment dispute team:

Telephone: 03000 560 630
Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm
Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm

Textphone: 0300 200 3212
Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm

Ask for support so you can return to work

If you’re able to 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 might be able to retire early if you’re unable to continue working.

Benefits and entitlements

Claim all the state benefits you’re entitled to

If you have a health condition or are disabled, you could be entitled to benefits that will:

  • Top up your income – for example, Universal Credit.
  • Help you with essential costs – for example, the housing costs element of Universal Credit.
  • Allow someone who cares for you to claim Carer’s Allowance.
  • Help you with the extra costs of being disabled or having a long-term health condition – for example, Personal Independence Payment.

If you are on a low income and making a new claim or updating your claim because of a change in circumstances, you usually now have to claim Universal Credit.

You won’t have to claim Universal Credit if you qualify for (or are already getting) Severe Disability Premium or are over state pension age.

Read our guide explaining Universal Credit.

If you’re having to move from existing benefits onto Universal Credit , read our guide How moving to Universal Credit will affect you.

Read our more general guide to benefits: Make sure you’re getting the right entitlements.

Help with NHS health costs

Top tip

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.

Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whatever your age and circumstances.

If you live in England and you’re getting certain benefits or you’re on a low income you might be able to get help with health costs.

These include:

  • Dental costs.
  • Eyecare costs.
  • NHS prescriptions.
  • 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:

  • Critical illness insurance.
  • Income protection insurance.
  • Payment protection insurance.
  • Mortgage payment protection insurance.
  • Short-term income protection insurance.

These types of insurance are 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.

Read our guide Making an insurance claim.

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 Home Discount.

You could get up to £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021/22

If you tell your energy supplier about your health condition, they might 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 more about the Warm Home Discount scheme on GOV.UK.

Help from your local council

If your condition means you have difficulty getting around or doing day-to-day tasks your local council might provide support with things such as:

  • Shopping and cleaning.
  • Personal care and day-to-day tasks.
  • Special equipment related to your illness or impairment.
  • Small adaptations to your home (like handrails on your bath).

The first step is to get your needs assessed by your council.

Help with your Council Tax

You may be able to get a discount on your Council Tax if you’re disabled, or if someone in your household is disabled.

Find out more about Council Tax discounts for disabled people on GOV.UK.

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 of being sick or disabled.

Grants might 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’re now going to have to manage on a lower income, it’s important to look at your budget straight away to make the most of your income.

Use our Budget Planner to help you save money.

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 might have changed dramatically. You might 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.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.