Government benefits – helping you through injury or illness

If you’re incapacitated for any reason and are unable to work, you may
qualify to receive certain benefits from the government to assist you.
This is one of a series of guides to government benefits, in which
you’ll find practical information on the range of benefits that may be
available to you.

* Statutory sick pay – this benefit is paid to people who
are
in employment but are unable to work due to illness. It’s currently
paid at £70.05 per week for up to 28 weeks of illness, and can be
claimed after four or more consecutive days of being sick. (If you’re
still unwell after 28 weeks, you can apply for incapacity benefit.) To
claim statutory sick pay, you’ll need to inform your employer (either
by phone or in writing – you don’t have to speak to them in person)
within one week of falling ill. Some employers offer their own sick pay
schemes instead of statutory sick pay. Check your terms and conditions
of employment.

* Incapacity benefit – if you have an illness or injury and
have been unable to work 28 weeks or more, and/or your statutory sick
pay period has ended, you may be eligible for incapacity benefit. The
rate increases the longer you receive this benefit, currently going up
to £78.50 per week for long-term illness or injury (over 52 weeks
of
incapacity). When you apply, either online or at your local jobcentre
plus, you’ll be asked to go for a personal capability assessment and
you may need a medical examination by a doctor. If you’re deemed
eligible, you’ll receive flat-rate weekly payments directly into your
bank account. You’re not automatically barred from working while
claiming – you may be allowed to work up to 16 hours a week or earn a
small income, depending on the nature of the job. If you do work,
though, you may be required to pay income tax.

* NHS costs – most of the treatments provided on the NHS are
free, but there are some that you must pay towards. If you’re on a low
income or unable to work, you may be able to apply for free treatment.
This includes dentistry, prescriptions, travel to and from hospital,
eye tests, vouchers for glasses and contact lenses, wigs and supports.
Again, you won’t be eligible if you have more than £16,000 in
savings.

* Community care grant – this is a sum of money awarded to
people who need help to live independently in the community. You can
apply for it if you are receiving other benefits such as jobseeker’s
allowance or incapacity benefit. It can help people who need financial
support after leaving care, or who need financial support so that
they don’t have to move into care. In some circumstances, people who
have gone through a difficult period in their lives or have suffered a
family breakdown may be eligible, and it may also be granted to people
who care for someone else. If you have savings of over £500 (or
over £1,000 if you’re over 60) you may not qualify for the full
amount. The grant will be paid into your bank account as a lump sum.
You won’t be required to pay it back and it isn’t considered as income,
so it won’t affect any other benefits you receive or apply for. Apply for it at
your local jobcentre plus.