Increase your income
It should be a priority to make sure that you’ve got as much money coming in as possible. You should double-check all of your entitlements and benefits, as well as any pensions, savings or investments you might have.
Support from your employer during long-term sick leave
If you’re ill you may need to take some time off for appointments, to recover or to cope with the stress you’re experiencing. Your employer should take steps to support you during and after your treatment, and make reasonable adjustments so that you’re not put at a disadvantage because of your illness.
Statutory Sick Pay: what is it?
You can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer for up to 28 weeks. You must fit the following criteria:
- You're in work, but unable to attend due to illness
- You were earning £112 per week or more in the two months before you were unable to work
Some employers operate their own sick pay schemes, so you should contact your HR department if there’s one, ask a manager, or check your contract or handbook.
SSP payments are paid into your bank account in the same way as your employer pays your usual wages and on the same basis, in other words weekly or monthly. The statutory entitlement is £88.45 per week and will be paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
Are you a carer?
If you’re caring for someone with long-term illness, you also have rights at work. You’re entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to provide support in an emergency, and to request flexible working hours.
If you need impartial advice on your rights at work, speak to your trade union rep, or if you don’t have one, contact the Acas helpline.
Claim an income tax refund
If you’ve had to stop working due to long-term illness or work reduced hours you may be entitled to a refund of some of the income tax you’ve paid that year. This is called a tax rebate, and you should contact HMRC to check if you’re entitled to one.
Check your state benefit entitlements
If you’re unable to work or have a low income as a result of having a long term illness, or you’re caring for someone who does, there are a range of benefits available to help. Use our benefits calculator to check your entitlement.
Apply for grants and loans
Some charities, such as Macmillan, offer small grants to help people with the costs of living with cancer. Turn 2 Us offer a grant search service to help you check if there are any charities or funds who may be able to help with one-off costs.
Local councils sometimes offer grants or other financial or practical support if you’re living with illness. Contact the social services department at your local council to find out what they offer.
Check your insurance policies
Check whether you have insurance policies that pay out in the event of long-term or terminal illness. These might include:
- Some life insurance policies will pay out if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness
- You may have mortgage payment protection that covers your mortgage payments if you are unable to work
- Check to see if you have critical illness cover that gives you a lump sum or regular payments
- You might have income protection insurance that gives you an income in the event that you’re unable to work
Bear in mind that any insurance payout could affect state benefit claims you make.
Look at your pensions, savings, or investments
If you’re of pension age, you’ll already receive the state pension. If you have a low income you may also claim an additional benefit called Pension Credit to help you.
If you have a private pension, you may be able to withdraw a portion of it. You’ll need to contact your pension provider.
If you have savings or investments set aside to cover the unexpected, now may be a good time to use them.
Before you consider drawing money from your pension savings, it’s important to think about how it’ll affect you income in the future. We recommend contacting Pension Wise for impartial information on your options. Alternatively, you could contact an independent financial adviser.