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Applying for benefits

The benefits system can be confusing, especially if you're unfamiliar with it. These tips can help you be more succesful when claiming benefits after receiving a brain tumour diagnosis.

It can be really difficult to know where to start when thinking about claiming benefits. It may be something you’ve never had to think about before – so where do you start? We’ve put together this information to help direct you through this process and understand what to do next.

Our Benefits and Money Adviser has also written about Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in more detail 

How do I make a claim?

To make your claim, call the claim line(s) for the benefit(s) you are claiming. Then organise for your doctor (or consultant) to send a short medical report called a DS1500.

You don't have to see your doctor to get the report - a nurse or the doctor's receptionist can arrange for the report to be issued, and it is free. You then post the report to the DWP (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Disability and Carers Service [DCS] (N. Ireland).

Healthcare professionals in England or Scotland can access and complete a DS1500 form online, using the Digital DS1500 Service. This means the report arrives at the DWP in real time, thereby reducing the waiting time for the patient. Ask if your doctor has access to this service. (The DWP is rolling out this service, so it will subsequently be available in Wales - ask your doctor if it's available in your area.)

Tips for claiming benefits

1. Understand what you're eligible for

The benefits system can be overwhelming, especially if you're not familiar with it. Our website has lots of information about the different types of benefits and could be useful in better understanding what you may be eligible for. You may also want to book an appointment for our Benefits and Money Clinic to get a more personalised understanding of what you're entitled to, as well as help with filling in applications.

You can also check which benefits you’re eligible for by signing up to BRIAN, our free app which has been developed to help people cope with a brain tumour. BRIAN has a benefits eligibility checker which ask you a series of questions, then gives you information about which benefits you can apply for.

2. Take your time

Once you’ve decided what you’re eligible for and start to fill in the forms, remember to take your time! Think carefully before you apply – you may be entitled to this benefit, but by going through the forms too quickly you might miss the right points or write something down wrong and end up being turned down. 

Seek help when completing the form, especially if you’re not sure or if this is a new process for you. Our Benefits and Money Adviser, Denise, has a wealth of knowledge and experience working with people who are living with a brain tumour diagnosis, and can help you apply for benefits, taking you through the forms step-by-step.

3. Ask for help

There are a lot of resources out there to help you with each step of applying for benefits, so don’t be afraid to reach out. You can book an appointment with our Money and Benefits Advice clinic to speak to our adviser who will talk you through what you can apply for and how to do it, and help you complete the forms.

You could also approach your local Citizens Advice, your Clinical Nurse Specialist, or even simply a friend or family member who has a bit of time to look at this with you. Don’t forget about our Support and Information team, who are also on hand to help you each step of the way.

Seek free advice as soon as possible. Particularly if there are debt issues; before they get out of control.

4. Talk to other people in a similar position

Although a brain tumour diagnosis can feel isolating, you’re not alone in this. There’s a whole community of people going through similar things to you, many of whom have experience in coping with the impact on finances and applying for benefits. It can be really helpful to talk to others who have been through this process and to get advice and tips from their personal experience.

5. Be honest about your limitations

It can be difficult to think about how your diagnosis has affected you and sometimes we have a tendency to ‘play down’ our limitations. Or, you might have found a ‘solution’ to the difficulties you face, but this very solution could indicate your eligibility for certain benefits. For example, buying pre-prepared vegetables because you get too tired preparing them yourself, or needing someone to be in the house when you have a bath.

Remember that the Department of Work and Pensions will accept everything you say at face value – they won’t question what they’re being told. It’s up to you to be open about your difficulties and your illness.

Consider asking someone for help – it can be hard to think about your own difficulties: I wasn’t comfortable writing down “my stuff” and what I did write down wasn’t a true reflection of my abilities. A friend of mine has written a letter to be presented to PIP in my dispute for help … I’d never seen my situation written down, and so frankly It was actually a very honest account of the way I’m now living my life.

6. Don't be embarrassed to apply

We know that, for one reason or another, people will have their own opinions on applying for benefits – which can often hold people back from applying. First and foremost, there’s absolutely no shame in applying for benefits, and we’d really urge anyone and everyone to consider what they’re eligible for.

Most of us are paying a small amount of money through national insurance so that, at times when something has gone seriously wrong, you can claim back support when you need it. You’re essentially insuring yourself against an inability to work – it’s no different from insuring your property against problems like fire or burglary.

Denise, our Benefits and Money Adviser

7. You always have the opportunity to appeal

If you’ve applied for a benefit and been turned down – don’t give up! We know this can be really disheartening, but unfortunately it does happen. However, this is why there’s an appeals system and it’s important that you access this if you feel the decision made is the wrong one.

For example if you get refused when applying for PIP, you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration. Be mindful that mandatory reconsiderations very rarely change the decision. This is because it simply means the Department of Work and Pensions will have someone else look at the original assessment, but if this was incorrect or an inaccurate representation of your situation, the reviewer will almost certainly agree with the original decision. However, this isn’t the end of your options, as you can now enter the appeal process.

We’d always recommend that someone gets advice on the appeal process – even if it’s just to understand how it works. Our Benefits and Money Adviser can talk you through the appeals process and how you can best approach it.

Get support

If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.

Share your experiences and help create change

By taking part in our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys and sharing your experiences, you can help us improve treatment and care for everyone affected by a brain tumour.

If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:

Support and Information Services

0808 800 0004 (free from landlines and mobiles)

support@thebraintumourcharity.org

Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00

You can also join our active online community - Join our online support groups.