Finance and benefits when living with a heart or circulatory condition

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Finances can be an extra worry if you live with heart or circulatory condition, or if you’re recovering from a treatment like heart surgery.

Our advice can help answering questions about benefits, financial issues and free prescriptions.

What benefits or assistance am I entitled to?

Living with a heart or circulatory condition can affect your ability to work, to care for yourself or your dependants (spouse or young children), or your mobility. In these cases, you may be entitled to some financial support and benefits. Whether or not you can claim this support may depend on your income, your age and how long you’ve lived in the UK, as well as your health.

Universal Credit is the main regular benefit payment from the Government that can help with your living costs if you’re on a low income or out of work. It is being introduced across the UK by the Government to combine several different benefits into one payment.

Citizens Advice has a tool to check if you are eligible for Universal Credit. If you decide to apply for Universal Credit, you will be required to complete a Work Capability Assessment, which assesses whether your health condition prevents you from working. 

If you have a long-term health condition which means you need care, or your health affects your ability to live independently, you may be entitled to one of these benefits:

In the past, adults aged 16 and over were eligible for the DLA, but this is now being replaced by the PIP for adults. So now, only children aged 15 and under are eligible to apply for the DLA.

Other benefits you may be entitled to include:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – if you are in employment but unable to work, your employer should pay you SSP for the first 28 weeks you’re off sick. SSP is the minimum amount that you should be paid – speak to your employer to find out if there is a sick pay scheme which can support you.
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – this is for people who can’t work because of sickness or disability, and aren’t receiving SSP. Income-related ESA is being replaced by Universal Credit across the UK. If you live in an area where ESA is still available, you will need to complete a Work Capability Assessment as part of the application process. 

Where can I go for help with financial questions?

The Government’s website has lots of helpful information on the different available options for financial help. Because financial advice can vary depending on the law in your part of the UK, the Government also has specific information for people living in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Citizens Advice offers a lot of help with financial issues, including a tool to check which benefits you may be entitled to, and has a full list of the benefits you may be entitled to if you are sick or disabled

Citizens Advice also provides tailored advice for people living in different areas of the UK. Visit these websites for:

Other places where you can find helpful advice and support include:
  • Contacting or visiting your local Jobcentre Plus to make new benefit claims, or to discuss existing claims
  • The Money Advice Service, a service set up by the Government to offer free and impartial advice about money issues 
  • Turn2us, a charity which helps people gain access to the money available to them through benefits, grants and other financial help
  • National Debtline, a charity which provides free advice to people who have questions or worries about financial debt.

Am I entitled to free prescriptions?

Medical prescriptions are free of charge in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They are also free for people in England who meet certain criteria, such as people aged over 60 or under 16, or those who have certain medical condition and have a valid medical exception certificate. NHS choices has information on who is entitled to free prescriptions in England.

If you aren’t entitled to free prescriptions for your medicines, paying for them can be quite expensive. But you may be able to save money by buying a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC). You can purchase PPCs with fixed monthly payments which allow you to obtain all of the prescriptions you need, instead of paying for each prescription individually.

You may find it cheaper to buy a PPC if you need to pay for:

  • four or more prescription items in three months, or
  • more than twelve items in twelve months. 

To find out more about this, you can call the NHS Low Income Scheme helpline on 0300 330 1343. The NHS choices website has more information about who is eligible for free prescriptions, and how to buy PPCs.

Citizens Advice has information about other health-related expenses that you may be able to get help with, such as the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment. 

 

Other helpful information