Other financial help
As well as disability benefits that you might be able to claim, there are various funds and concessions that might make living with MS easier.
As with benefits, some other sources of financial help may be means-tested. This means you're more likely to qualify for this help if you're on a low income.
But even if you're not on a low income, there may be some help available to everyone with a disability.
Remember to also read about about MS Society grants towards items you may need as a result of your MS.
Find out more
Save on public transport
In England free off-peak travel on all local buses is available to disabled people who qualify. Similar schemes operate in Wales. Application forms are available from local councils.
For information on cheaper travel in Scotland visit transport.gov.scot. You'll learn about the National Entitlement Card scheme that can let you travel for free. When you apply for this card, your neurologist can write the supporting letter you’ll need. Or an MS nurse can now do this too.
In Northern Ireland if you're disabled you can get half-fare bus and train travel with a Smartpass. Applications are available from Translink.
If you've got MS, you're eligible for a Disabled Person’s Railcard. It could save you, and the person you're travelling with, a third off most rail fares throughout Great Britain. Find out more and apply at National Rail's Disabled Person's Railcard website.
Housing grants including the Disabled Facilities Grant
Disabled Facilities Grants are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own scheme of housing grants, as part of the ‘scheme of assistance’ which also offers information and advice.
These are all grants made by local councils for disabled people to help pay for the cost of changes to their home. For example, to improve access with a ramp or widened doors, or to change the layout of a bathroom or kitchen.
They’re available if you rent or own your home.
If you apply, the council might send an occupational therapist to see what changes they think would be helpful to you. Don’t start any work before the council approves your application – it might affect the award of the grant.
To find out more and to apply, contact your local council.
Help with keeping warm in winter
During a cold winter, the costs of heating can quickly add up. If you get certain benefits, you may qualify for Cold Weather Payments. You might get these if the temperature falls below freezing over seven days in a row. These payments are different from Winter Fuel Payments which pensioners get.
For information on energy efficiency schemes to help with insulation, room heating and water heating, contact the Energy Saving Trust. In some parts of the UK there are government schemes to improve heating and energy efficiency:
- in Scotland there's the Warmer Homes Scotland scheme
- the Welsh Government runs the Warm Homes Nest scheme
- in Northern Ireland there's the Affordable Warmth grant scheme
If you're worried about fuel bills this winter and you're trying to save energy to cut costs, look into the Warm Home Discount Scheme. It offers grants towards fuel costs. If you're affected by MS, you can either contact your energy provider, or go to the government website and follow the instructions.
Check out this useful Gov.uk energy grants calculator to find out what support you might be eligible for.
Prescriptions are free in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
If you live in England, you may save money by buying a prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC) if you have to pay for more than four items in three months, or 14 items in 12 months.
You might also qualify for free prescriptions if you can't leave home without help, if you get certain benefits, have a low income or have certain conditions (such as epilepsy). You'll need an FP29A form from your doctor, hospital or pharmacist.
Find out more on the NHS Choices website.
Dealing with debt
For some people, however much they budget, the change in their circumstances is so great that they can't carry on paying for rent, mortgage, utility bills and so on.
If you're in serious debt, it's essential to get advice. If you live in England and Wales, GOV.UK's debt pages are very useful, including advice on what debts must be prioritised. If you live in Scotland visit Mygov.scot for information and advice. In Northern Ireland, Advice NI has debt advice.
The National Debtline provides advice for those in debt.
Independent financial advice
For further professional advice, you can look for an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Their services are often free, or they take a percentage of payment from a product provider (such as a building society which sells you a mortgage).
Your bank or building society may have a financial adviser attached to it, though they may be committed to selling you a product from their own range.
Cheaper or free TV licences
You can get a free TV licence if you’re 75 or over and you get Pension Credit (or your partner who you live with gets Pension Credit).
If you live in a residential care home you might be able to get a much cheaper licence. And the licence is half price if anyone in the household is registered blind.
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