What benefits am I entitled to if I've had cancer?

If you have cancer, or have had cancer in the past, you might be entitled to some benefits that can support you financially. This includes Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

  • Benefits provide practical help and financial support  
  • The financial support can be used as extra income if you’re not well or have a disability  
  • The amount of money you get will depend on a number of different factors, which you can find out more about on this page 

What is Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit that helps with extra living costs. In Scotland, this benefit is called Adult Disability Payment.  

You might be entitled to PIP if you have a long-term health condition or disability that makes it more difficult for you to do everyday tasks and get around. It’s available for people 16 years old and over. It’s available until you reach the age you can get your pension.  

You can find out when you’re entitled to draw your pension on the Gov.uk website.   

You might be entitled to PIP if you have had cancer but it’s not automatically given to you, so you will still need to be assessed. The assessment will look at how cancer affects your daily life and movement.  

Who can get Personal Independence Payment?  

People between 16 years old and the pension age (when you retire) are entitled to PIP. You have to have a long-term health condition (like cancer) or disability that makes it more difficult for you to do everyday tasks or get around. This can be while you’re having treatment and after you’ve had treatment. 

How will I be assessed for Personal Independence Payment? 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will do the assessment. Your application is assessed based on how much difficulty you have with certain daily tasks and moving around. You can still be awarded points even if you can manage to do these things, but struggle doing them. It’s important to talk about any help you have or any changes you’ve put in place to manage with your daily tasks in your application. This can help your claim.  

PIP is assessed in two components (parts): the daily living component and the mobility (moving around) component. You can get money for one or both parts. How much money you’re allocated for your PIP allowance is not affected by how much you’re paid (your income) or what kind of job you have. 

The assessment is done by a healthcare professional and is likely to be done over the phone or by video call, but you might be invited for an in-person assessment. The healthcare professional will be independent, which means they will not be someone you know. They won’t be from the Department of Work and Pensions either. You can find more information about the assessment on the Citizens Advice website

If you’ve recently lived abroad, if you currently live in a care home or hospital, or if you’re impacted by the asylum system there might be some more things you need to show when applying for PIP. You can find out more about eligibility for PIP here

How do I apply for Personal Independence Payment?  

To apply for PIP, you need to ring the ‘PIP new claims line’ or you can apply by post. If you live in England or Wales you can find more information about how to apply on the government website

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can find more details here

If you live in Scotland, it’s Adult Disability Payment, which is covered by Social Security Scotland instead of the Department of Work and Pensions. You can find more details about how to apply on MyGov.scot.  

These organisations have more information and advice about PIP: 

How is Personal Independence Payment different from Disability Living Allowance?  

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit to help with extra living costs for people younger than 16 years old. Your carer would need to apply for this on your behalf. Find out more about DLA

What is Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)?

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is money you can apply for to cover the study-related costs you have because of a long-term illness, mental health problem or any other disability. It’s available to students doing undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, including at Open University or distance learning. 

Study-related costs means any money you pay for things connected to your course. You don’t have to pay this money back after you’ve finished your studies and you can get it alongside any standard student finance you get – like tuition fees or maintenance loans.  

How much money you get depends on your individual needs, not your household income. This means that when you’re applying for DSA they don’t look at your parents’ or carers’ income, or your own income when they’re deciding how much money you’re entitled to. 

Who can get Disabled Students’ Allowance? 

You might be entitled to DSA if you’ve had cancer but you won’t get it automatically. It depends how your cancer diagnosis affects your studies and what extra things you pay for because of it. 

It can also depend on what type of course you’re doing. It is available to students doing undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, including at Open University or distance learning. You can check whether you’re eligible by using the links below for the country you live in: 

What can I pay for with Disabled Students’ Allowance? 

The support you can get from DSA is split into four different areas of need.  

Specialist equipment  

This could include:  

  • a computer 
  • specialist software,  
  • audio recording equipment,  
  • specialist furniture (like a computer chair, or desk),  
  • printers and scanners 
  • any training you might need to use any of this specialist equipment 

Once you finish your course, the equipment still belongs to you, you don’t have to return it.  

Non-medical helpers 

DSA can help pay for practical support as well. This could include any of the following  

  • someone who writes for you in an exam or lecture (a scribe) 
  • someone who reads for you in an exam 
  • someone who reads your assignments to check for mistakes (a proof-reader) 
  • a specialist tutor 
  • library support assistants 
  • British Sign Language interpreters 

Extra travel 

You can use DSA to help pay for travel to and from your course or placement if you need to because of your disability or health condition.  

Other support related to your studies 

This could cover lots of different things, like extra copies of documents for proofreading.  

How do I apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance? 

How you apply for DSA depends on which country in the UK you live in. You can use the links below to find out more specific information about where you live.  

If you live in England, you will need to apply to Student Finance England. If you’re doing an NHS-funded course, you need to apply to NHS Student Bursaries for DSA.. 

If you live in Wales, you will need to apply to Student Finance Wales. For NHS-funded courses, you’ll need to contact the disability service at your university, and they will talk to NHS Wales directly. 

If you live in Northern Ireland, you will need to apply to Student Finance NI for all courses. 

If you live in Scotland, you will need to apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for all courses. 

Will I be assessed for Disabled Students’ Allowance? 

Once Student Finance has confirmed that you’re eligible for DSA, they might ask you to contact an assessment centre. This is so that you can have a needs assessment. 

This isn’t a test or an exam. The person who does your needs assessment (the needs assessor) is there to help you get the best support for your studies. The assessor will talk to you about your course and you can explain what support you might find helpful during your studies.   

After the assessment, a report will be sent to Student Finance with the details of any equipment and other support you are able to get for your course, and they can send you a copy as well.  

If you’re not happy with the result of your assessment, you can make an appeal. This means you’ll tell Student Finance, or to SAAS if you live in Scotland, that you want them to do the assessment again because you think they made the wrong decision in the report. To do this you need to get back in contact with Student Finance in your country, or SAAS in Scotland, and tell them you want to appeal. 

What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?

Disability Living Allowance for children (DLA) is a benefit for young people under the age of 16. Your carer applies for DLA on your behalf. If you’re in Scotland, DLA is now called Child Disability Payment so this is what your carer should apply for.  

(Note: We use the word ‘carer’ to recognise anyone who is in the position of looking after a young person.) 

DLA is for people who have a disability, or a condition like cancer that means it’s more difficult to get around or they need more care and support. This isn’t just related to physical difficulties, it could also be mental health-related or for people who need support to get around new places, or a range of other reasons. It’s also for people who might need more support than someone without that disability or condition.  

There are two parts to DLA, also called ‘components’. There is the care component and the mobility component. You can get money for one or both parts.  

Who can get Disability Living Allowance?  

People who have or have had cancer can apply for Disability Living Allowance, but you’re not automatically entitled to it. You might not considered yourself disabled but you are protected under the Equality Act’s disability rights from the point of being diagnosed with cancer, for the rest of your life. This continues even if you no longer have cancer. 

DLA is for people who are under 16 years old. Whether you get DLA or not depends on how your cancer diagnosis affects your life and the care and support you need because of your diagnosis.  

You might have to have an assessment which will be done by a healthcare professional. They’re not trying to diagnose you with anything but they’ll be trying to understand and assess the impact your cancer diagnosis and treatment has had on your life, and how this impacts you.  

In Scotland this benefit is called Child Disability Payment. You can’t get DLA and Child Disability Payment at the same time, so if you move to or from Scotland the benefit you get will change.  

There are some other things that might affect whether you get DLA or Child Disability Payment, which you can read about here if you’re in England or Wales, here if you’re in Northern Ireland and here if you’re in Scotland.  

These organisations have more information and advice about DLA: 

How do I apply for Disability Living Allowance?  

You can’t apply for DLA yourself; your carer has to apply for you. They can do this by printing a DLA claim form which you can get here if you’re in England or Wales or here if you’re in Northern Ireland. You can also find details for how to ring the DLA helplines at those links if your carer would prefer to speak to someone about the application.  

If you’re in Scotland then you can go here for more information about how to apply for Child Disability Payment.  

How is Disability Living Allowance different from Personal Independence Payment?  

DLA is a benefit to support young people under 16 years old, which your carer has to apply for. Once you are 16, you will need to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This is a benefit for people aged 16 to pension age that helps with extra living costs if you have a long-term health condition or disability. You can find out more about PIP, how it works and who is eligible [here]. 

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