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Know Your Benefits - A Guide for Renal Patients and their Carers

Many Kidney Patients or their carers face financial difficulties – this is not unusual or surprising. Before seeking a grant, or other help from a charity, check to see whether you have yet claimed all the benefits available from the State. Check what benefits you may be able to get. Below are brief guidelines on some of the benefits to look for.

For further information on any of these benefits, see Contact numbers for advice on benefits in this pack.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

This is payable to someone who is incapable of work because of sickness or disability. It is only paid to someone who is employed and who earns more than the National Insurance lower earnings limit. When Statutory Sick Pay runs out or you stop being employed, you may be able to claim other benefits

Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)

ESA is a benefit paid to people whose ability to work is limited by ill health or disability
ESA replaced new claims for Incapacity Benefit and Income Support from 27 October 2008. Claimants already receiving Incapacity Benefit, Income Support paid because of illness or disability or Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) continued to receive those benefits as long as they remained eligible. However, in 2010 it was announced that these claimants would be switched to ESA between Spring 2011 and 2014.

Eligibility for Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)

  • A limited capability for work - which is determined by three assessments
  • To be at least 16 years
  • Have not yet reached state pension age
  • You are in Great Britain or Northern Ireland
  • Not receiving income support
  • Not receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

ESA claimants are divided into two separate groups, the "support group" and the "work related activity group". The group you are placed in will determine the amount of ESA you receive and the responsibilities you will need to meet in order to keep receiving the benefit.
The support group : If you have a limited capability for work related activity under the WCA

The work-related activity group: If you do not have a limited capability for work-related activity under the WCA

Time periodCircumstanceWeekly amount
First 13 weeks Under 25 >£57.35
First 13 weeks 25 or over £72.40
From 14 weeks Work Related Activity Group Up to £101.15
From 14 weeks Support Group Up to £108,15

The Government has appointed ATOS Healthcare, a healthcare company to undertake medical assessments. There are a number of medical conditions for which medical assessment is not required and in some cases the medical advisor has to ask the patient’s GP or Consultants for information.

Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

When you claim ESA you enter a 13 week "assessment phase" (with the exception of those who are terminally ill). During this period you will undergo a "work capability assessment".

This consists of two phases:
During the assessment phase benefit is paid for the first 13 weeks whilst a decision is made on your work capability

The second part looks at whether you have a "limited capability for work-related activity". This will determine whether you are placed in the support group or the work-related activity group of claimants. It also determines the amount of ESA you receive and the responsibilities you must meet to retain the benefit.

The Limited Work capability assessment determines whether you are a person who remains entitled to ESA after the assessment or can claim another benefit (eg.Jobseeker’s Allowance).

The Limited Work capability assessment determines whether you can get the support component or the work related activity component of ESA

A Work focused health related assessment helps to identify the type of work people who receive the work related activity component could do despite their medical condition and seeks to improve their capacity for working.
The Limited capability for work assessment measures a person’s ability to perform certain activities relating to physical function and to mental, cognitive and intellectual function. You will need to score 15 points in total.

The Limited Capability for work relating activity assessment is the second assessment with the WCA. It will decide the rate of ESA that will be paid after the first 13 weeks . If a patient satisfies the limited capability for work related activity assessment, they will receive the support component of ESA after 13 weeks and will not have to undertake work related activity or have work focused interviews, otherwise you will have to undertake work related activities and work focused interviews.

To apply contact Jobcentre Plus

Benefits for those who work:

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit which will be introduced over an extended period with the aim of national coverage by 2017.  More information can be obtained from https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/overview

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit.

(From April 2014 people of working age who are in work will claim Universal Credit instead of current tax credit).,

Current Tax Credits:

Working Tax Credit. You may be able to claim Working Tax Credit if you are disabled and work at least 16 hours a week. You must have a disability that makes it difficult to get a job. You must be receiving, or have recently received, a qualifying sickness or disability related benefit. However this may affect other income related benefits you get - for example Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Call the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900.

Child Tax Credit. This is a payment to support families with children. It can be claimed by those responsible for at least one child or young person. The amount of the payment depends on your circumstances and income levels, but could include a baby element, disability element or severe disability element.

Tax Credit Calculator www.gov.uk/tax-credits-calculator

Job Grant

Job Grants stopped on 1 April 2013 - you can no longer apply for a Job Grant

Flexible Support Fund

You can get other support when you're moving from benefits to work to help you prepare for, find and stay in work.

For example:

  • training, guidance and work placement programmes
  • work experience, volunteering and job trials
  • help with starting your own business
  • help with child care or caring responsibilities

Part of the help is offered in the new Flexible Support Fund (FSF).  The FSF can be used to support all Jobcentre Plus customers, including 16/17 year olds, who are not participating in existing contracted provision, such as The Work Programme.  FSF may also be used for Jobcentre Plus customers who are not claiming benefits.

The FSF was created by pooling a number of different pre-existing Job Centre budgets.  The fund can be targeted in many different ways, so it is important to establish how the Fund is utilised at your local Job Centre.  Your Personal Adviser should be able to provide this information for you.

The FSF is intended to fill gaps and add support to provisions already in place from partners and other external support groups, so the help you require may not be available from the Job Centre and they may merely be able to direct your query elsewhere.

Disability Living Allowance (over 16s) (Personal Independent Payment (PIP) from 8th April 2013)
If you are aged over 16 and under 65 and need help looking after yourself or getting around.
See the Disability Living Allowance information Section in this pack
Disability Benefits Helpline : 0845 712 3456 – Mon-Fri 8am-6pm

Disability Living Allowance (under 16s) (Personal Independent Payment (PIP) from 8th April 2013)
If a child under 16 and needs more help or looking after than other children of the same age because of their illness or disability.

See the Disability Living Allowance information Section in this pack
Disability Benefits Helpline : 0845 712 3456 – Mon-Fri 8am-6pm

Attendance Allowance

If you are aged over 65 and need help looking after yourself or getting around. If you have a physical disability (including sensory disability, such as blindness) and your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you for your own, or someone else’s safety. Savings and other income are not usually affected. You may wish to ask someone from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or your local Age UK to assist you with the form.

Carers Allowance (CA)

(formerly called Invalid Care Allowance)

.If you are aged 16 or over and spending at least 35 hours a week looking after someone who is getting or waiting to hear about getting Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance. Carers Allowance is taxable and may affect your other benefits.
See Benefits for Carers Section in this pack

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

If you became disabled as a result of an accident at work or a disease known to be a risk of a job you have done, including deafness.

Housing Benefit

If you are on a low income, whether you are working or not, and paying rent.

Bedroom Tax

From April 2013 people who rent their homes from a public sector landlord, such as the council or a Housing Association and you are of working age, your housing benefit may be cut if it is considered you have more bedrooms that you actually need. If your home is considered too big for your needs Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% if you have one spare bedroom, and 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.

Under the Housing Act 1985 Section 326, if a bedroom is 70 sq ft or under then it is classed as a boxroom and bedroom tax should not apply. (63 sq ft = 9’ x 7’).

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

You may qualify for a discretionary housing benefit to help with the shortfall in your rent. Your local council should have further details.

If you think you may be affected by this Cap the DWP have set up a Helpline to help answer questions about the cap. The number is 0845 605 7065 between 8am and 6pm.

If you wish to challenge decisions made on your benefit claims you can ask for written statements of the reasons for the decision made. If you still believe this is incorrect decision you can ask for it to be look at again and/or appeal. Time limits are very strict and you are usually given one month to dispute a decision so it is important to seek advice quickly.

If you are an older person with concerns about this information your local Age UK may offer you some assistance.

Council Tax Support

This will replace the Council Tax Benefit which will be abolished in April 2013.

This means that Council tax support will not be nationally set and local Councils must devise their own local scheme to help people on low income to pay their Council Tax bill.
England : Each local Council will be responsible for devising their own system of Council tax Support
Scotland: Responsibility for setting council tax levels rests with local authorities in Scotland. The Scottish Government have ensured that people receiving Council Tax Benefit will not have to pay more in 2013.
Wales: Council Tax Support will apply across every Council in Wales to be set by the Welsh Assembly which will ensure that people receiving Council Tax Benefit will not have to pay more in 2013.
Check with your Local Council Tax Office for more information

Help with NHS Health Costs

There can be charges for some treatment from the NHS and a leaflet has been produced by the NHS which outlines information about who does not have to pay charges and also explains the help you might get with costs if you are on a low income. You may be eligible for help with the following items:

  • NHS prescriptions
  • NHS dental treatment
  • Sight tests
  • Glasses and contact lenses
  • Travel costs for treatment under the care of a consultant

If you would like a copy of the leaflet quote ‘HC11 – Help with health costs’. You can get a copy from DH Publications Online, contact details:
Telephone: 0300 123 1002 Dept of Health Publications order line
If you have access to the internet you can print the leaflet at the below link:

Travel Costs

Hospital PCTs will cease to exist from 1 April 2013. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) will then make payments previously undertaken by PCTs..

You may be able to claim a refund under the “Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme” (HTCS) of the cost of travelling to hospital or other NHS premises for NHS-funded treatment or diagnostic test arranged by a doctor or dentist. If you are on entitled benefits or allowances you may be able to claim for use of a private car and parking charges (where unavoidable). The Hospital will tell you the mileage rate. It is recommended that you check with the Hospital before travelling.

Blue Badge Scheme gives concessionary parking for people with severe mobility problems. You qualify automatically for a Blue Badge if you are registered blind or if you qualify for Higher Rate of the DLA mobility component. You may qualify if you have a permanent and substantial disability which means you are unable to walk or have considerable difficulty in walking. In this case a doctor may be asked to complete a form on your behalf.

To apply for a Blue Badge contact your local Social Services Department.

London Congestion Charge (www.cclondon.com). There is 100% discount for Blue Badge holders. Registration of your car initially costs £10 and must be registered with the Transport for London (TfL) ten days before travelling. Once you have received a discount approval letter you can drive into the Congestion Charge zone without having to pay the standard daily charge. Patients who are clinically assessed as being too ill to travel to an appointment on public transport may be eligible to claim a reimbursement of the Congestion Charge from their treating hospital. Be sure to keep your receipt so that you can reclaim.

Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) exception You can apply for exemption from paying vehicle tax if you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA

Prescription Charges in the UK

Both HD & CAPD patients can claim for free prescriptions.

Guidance on exemption from prescription charges is set out in leaflet HC11, Help with Health Costs. The leaflet is also published on the Department of Health website http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/HealthCosts/Documents/HealthCosts/HC11_April_2015.pdf
Any patient who has a permanent fistula which requires a surgical dressing or an appliance would be entitled to medical exemption if they have completed application form FP92A and a doctor has signed the form to confirm the condition (in this context, "permanent" is taken to mean "intended to last indefinitely"). Whether or not a dialysis patient has a permanent fistula which requires a surgical dressing or appliance is a matter for their doctor's clinical judgment. We would expect the criteria to be met where there is a clinical need for a permanent fistula to be covered by a surgical dressing (for example between haemodialysis treatments) or by an appliance (such as a catheter for peritoneal dialysis).

Water Charges

The WaterSure Scheme is available for certain customers with a water meter. It allows them to have their bills capped. This is to make sure that these customers don’t cut back on how much water they use because they are worried about how they will pay their bill.

To qualify for help under the WaterSure scheme, you or someone living with you, needs be entitled to receive one of the following:

  • council tax benefit
  • housing benefit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (except families in receipt of the family element only)
  • Pension Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • In addition, you need to either:
  • be responsible for three or more children under the age of 19 and in full-time education living in the property, or
  • have (or someone living in the property must have) a medical condition which requires significant additional use of water.
  • If you qualify for WaterSure, you will pay no more than the average household bill, even if you use more than the average amount of water.

You will not qualify for WaterSure if you use a garden sprinkler system or have a swimming pool.If you think you are eligible for WaterSure, you will need to apply through your Water Company


Disabled Facilities Grant

If you are disabled and need to make changes to your home you could get a grant from your local council to help with the costs.
Changes can include :
Widening doors and installing ramps
Improving access to rooms and facilities eg by installing a stair-lift or a downstairs bathroom
Provide a heating system suitable for your purposes
Adapting heating or lighting controls for easier use.
For disabled children under 19, the grant is worked out differently
you should contact your local council OR VISIT www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants/overview

A Disabled Facilities Grant will not affect any benefits you are already receiving.

Grants - Local and Charitable
Your Renal Social Worker should be able to provide you with information on grants available in your area.

The British Kidney Patient Association (BKPA)
3 Windmills,
St. Mary’s Close
Turk Street
GU34 1EF
Tel: 01420 541424

They may be able to offer financial assistance to help with travel costs, holidays or further education and training.

Your Local Kidney Patient Association
There are Kidney Patient Associations all around the country who may be in a position to offer help to kidney patients at local level. To find your local KPA telephone the NKF Helpline on 0845 601 02 09 for further details.

Turn2Us helps people in financial need to gain access to benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. Includes Grant Search database and Benefits Calculator.
Helpline 0808 802 2000
Website : www.turn2us.org.uk

Help for Pensioners

Pension Credit

There are two types of Pension Credit, Guarantee Credit for those who have reached the minimum qualifying age and Savings Credit for those aged 65 and over.
Guarantee Credit will guarantee a minimum income of £148.35 a week for single people or £226.50 a week for couples. Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement eg. a pension
You don’t pay tax on Pension Credit

For further details contact : Telephone 0800 99 1234

Winter Fuel Payments
The qualifying age for both men and women is rising in line with the increase in Women’s state pension age.
To have reached the qualifying age for Winter Fuel Payment for winter
You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 July 1951. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’. Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by Christmas.
Usually, you’ll qualify for Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • you were born on or before 5 July 1952 (winter 2014 to 2015 - this date changes every year)
  • you normally live in the UK throughout the week of 15 to 13 September 2014

For Help with Benefits contact your local branch AGE UK. You may get the details from your local telephone director or local library or visit www.ageuk.org.uk

NHS Dental Treatment for Renal Patients

If you are looking for a NHS dentist in England, you can call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) to find the NHS dental practices closest to where you live or work. If you have any subsequent difficulty accessing NHS dentistry in your area or have any special needs, NHS Direct and NHS Choices will be able to provide you with details of a local helpline number to support you in accessing NHS dental care.

If you are looking for a NHS dentist in Wales, you can call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 or visit the NHS Direct Wales website (www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk) to find the NHS dental practices closest to where you live or work. If you have any subsequent difficulty accessing NHS dentistry in your area or have any special needs, NHS Direct Wales should be able to provide you with the number of your Local Health Board who will be able to help you in accessing NHS dental care.
Useful dental information websites are :
www.dentalhealth.org, www.bdasmile.org

and the Dental Health area of the NHS Choices website: (www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Dentalhome.aspx)

Sue Gregory
Deputy Chief Dental Officer, Department of Health

Reviewed : 14 March 2012
The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.


The Warm Front Scheme ended in January 2013

The Warm Home Discount Scheme
As part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme, participating electricity suppliers have been asked to provide a set amount of financial support to a broader group of their customers. A rebate of £140 in 2014/2015 will be issued via the electricity bill of consumers who qualify for assistance under the Broader Group schemes. Suppliers will have some discretion over who is included within their Broader Group scheme. Eligible customers may include those on a low income, with a disability or long-term illness or those with children – but the actual criteria used will vary as it depends on the electricity supplier the consumer is with. Each supplier will make its own arrangements to find eligible customers.
Some suppliers offer the discount to vulnerable people (eg, those on a low income). Each supplier has their own rules about who else can get the discount - check with the supplier to see if you can get it.  IF YOU INTEND TO SWITCH YOUR ELECTRICITY SUPPLIER PLEASE CHECK WITH THEM FIRST WHETHER THEY PARTICIPATE IN THE WARM HOME DISCOUNT SCHEME.

This will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Please contact your electricity supplier for more details about the Warm Home Discount Scheme or visit: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/whds/whd_broader/whd_broader.aspx

Home Heat Helpline 0800 33 66 99
If you are worried about paying your energy bills and staying warm this winter you can contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 FREE to see if you are entitled to help or visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk

Winter Fuel payment
You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 May, 1963. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by Christmas.
You should get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Child Benefit).

Other sources of financial support

Energy bills

Contact your energy supplier, as they may be able to offer you a special tariff or payment plan to help you stay on top of your bills

Energy Saving Trust

Provides free, impartial advice on making your home more energy efficient. They can also tell you about grants for implementing energy efficient measures that may be available in your local area

Call 0800 512 012 or visit http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/

National Energy Action
This charity campaigns for affordable warmth and better energy efficiency for people who are particularly vulnerable to the cold

Call 0191 261 5677 or visit www.nea.org.uk
Address: NEA, West 1, Forth Banks, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3PA

Home Improvement Agencies
Provides advice on repairs and home improvements to older and disabled people

To find your nearest agency call 0845 864 5210 or visit www.foundations.uk.com

Citizens Advice Bureau
Your local CAB will be able to give you advice on benefits, heating, grants and debts

Look under C in the Yellow Pages or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk

National Debtline
For help if you are having difficulty with debt
Call 0808 808 4000

Scope Charity
Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) provides information and advice on all aspects of living with disability

To find your nearest advice centre call 01302 310 123 or visit www.scope.org.uk

NHS Credit Crunch Stressline
Job insecurity, redundancy, debt and money problems can all cause feelings of distress which can start to affect your health and wellbeing.
For help call 0300 123 2000 or visit www.nhs.uk (calls charged at standard rate)

Funeral Payments
A Funeral Payment may be available from the Social Fund. The Social Fund is a government scheme to help people on a low income with emergency expenses. To get a funeral payment you must be responsible for the funeral and be getting certain qualifying benefits or tax credit. You must claim within 3 months of the funeral

If you are not online at home then try your local library