Below are some of the realities of getting, or at least trying to get, help with and applying for Disability And Mobility benefits for someone living with cancer. Disability And Mobility benefits relating to travel (i.e. public or private transport), home needs and healthcare (i.e. glasses and dental care).
When first being diagnosed with cancer one of the first charities you will hear about is MacMillan, who work in close association with the NHS. They are like a 'support and information' hub for the nhs. They give financial, mental, physical and family support to those who need it.
When you get assigned a dedicated CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist) one of the things they can help you with is the application for a MacMillan Grant.
This is a one-off payment to help people on a low income and little savings cope with the added costs that cancer can bring on them. Extra costs such as Travel Costs (fares to/from the hospital during therapy treatments), Kitchen Aids (i.e. a food blender for when food needs to be eaten slushy, when on radiotherapy) and Heating Costs (for low immune system and keeping warm during winter).
The process, when using your CNS, is quite simple. Your CNS will either fill out your application form over the phone or be with you in person; in the hospital for example. Either way, they will ask certain questions about your current financial situation (such as "What are your Heating Costs, Travel Costs and Household Earnings?"), fill out other parts (medical parts) of the application form before signing the form on your behalf; if you are not able to do so in person.
With the application form signed and then posted by your CNS, the next step is a waiting game. In my case it took exactly three weeks for MacMillan to process my claim and send me a cashable cheque for £400, which was cashable at any NatWest, RBS or Ulster bank. I simply presented my passport as identification whereby the NatWest cashier then noted my passport number on the back of the macmillan cashable cheque before handed me £400. I also offered my driving license as proof of id/address but the cashier said my passport was good enough.
If you need to travel to/from a hospital in London, you can apply for a Disabled Persons Railcard; which will give ⅓ discount on single London Underground fares and ⅓ discount on National Rail fares throughout Great Britain. At just £20 for one year, or £54 for three years, you will easily get your money back in the savings you make throughout the year (your first couple of weeks in reality).
The eligibility to get a Disabled Persons Freedom Pass is very tough. You really need to prove you have very limited use of your arms, legs and/or eyes for example. To give you some idea of how strict the requirements are:
I applied with a 12 Point Mobility rating from the DWP (Department for Work & Pensions) partly because I had (and still have) double vision and disorientation and have difficulty walk even 1 meter, plus the fact my eye glasses needed (and still need) changing every month or so because my prescription was (and still is) always changing, whereby Newham council (London) still wrote me a letter stating "You do not qualify at this time".
This means I must assume, based on the high value of a freedom pass, that Newham council will not grant me a Disabled Persons Freedom Pass until I am partially sighted, blind, in a wheelchair, have one or more arms/legs missing and/or have severe mental problems. I am not surprised by their decision though. It just means I will have to wait until my eye is destroyed by radiotherapy.....watch this space!
Read about how to get a free eye test and eye glasses in the Eye Glasses section of this website.
Applying for a Blue Badge (Disability Parking Badge), which you do via your local council's website, is quite easy to apply for if you are already claiming PIP and have 8 Points or more on the mobility award. However, like anything you are applying for via your local council, it will take 6-8 weeks to complete; months if you do not have a utility bill in your name (they will require a utility bill in your name covering the last 3 months of residence).
Like any benefits your claim from your local council, most have a very strict level of eligibility; like the Freedom Pass for example. Basically, from what I have experienced so far, in relation to Newham Council anyway, is that you need to be severely disabled (almost to the point of dying because of your disability) before you have the slightest of chance of receiving any kind of welfare benefit from them.
NOTE: As I am currently waiting for certain criterias and government departments to process my claims (i.e. Housing Benefit and ESA), obviously I cannot update this page until their processes have been completed.