Do you have multiple sclerosis or care for someone who has? You might be eligible for extra financial help or welfare benefits during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We last reviewed and updated this page on Wednesday 28 September 2022.
If your circumstances have changed since the pandemic, it’s worth checking if anything has changed in the benefits you can get.
On this page:
- Can I still access the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) scheme?
- Can I claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
- Can I get financial support if test and trace means I have to stay off work?
- Help with essentials if you claim council tax support
- Can I claim Universal Credit?
- Can I claim Carer's Allowance?
- How does COVID-19 affect benefit applications and assessments?
- Remember you're not alone
The Job Retention Scheme (furlough) to help people keep their jobs ended on 30 September 2021. But you might still be able to get Statutory Sick Pay.
If you're employed, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available under the usual rules, including if you're sick with COVID-19.
SSP is arranged through your employer. Talk to them first about occupational sick pay, as that's more generous. But if you’re not eligible for that, you can apply for SSP.
If you’re not entitled to SSP, you might be able to claim Universal Credit, New Style Job Seekers Allowance or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
If you’re “clinically extremely vulnerable” or “highest risk”
If you're considered "clinically extremely vulnerable" ("highest risk" in Scotland), there might be times when you're told to "shield" (stay at home) by a doctor or by local COVID-19 restrictions. You should receive a letter explaining that. You can use this with your employer (or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)) as evidence you can’t work outside your home.
In Scotland, if you’re told to self-isolate by the test and trace service you might be able to get a support payment of £500, to help cover lost earnings. It's called the Self-isolation Support Grant.
You might also be able to claim if your child under 16 is asked to self-isolate. You'd need to show you'll lose income because you need to look after them.
In England and Wales, Test and Trace Support Payments have ended.
In Northern Ireland, this payment hasn't been available. But you might be able to get other financial support if you’re told to self-isolate.
If you're claiming council tax support, your council might be able to reduce your bills, and help if you're finding it hard to cover essentials like food, clothing or utility bills
If you’re thinking of claiming Universal Credit, check that’s your best option. It might not be, for example, if you already get tax credits. The Department for Work and Pensions has made a short video to explain it on LinkedIn.
If you are making a new claim for Universal Credit, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will call you to confirm the details once your claim is finished. You don't need to call them for an appointment. If you can't complete a claim for Universal Credit online, you can still call the DWP and make your claim by phone.
Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers. And if you look after someone for 35 hours a week or more, you might be eligible.
There were some special COVID rules for Carer’s Allowance but those have now ended.
- Find out if you qualify for Carer's Allowance on the UK government website
- If you’re in Scotland, find out more about financial support and other help for carers
If you need financial support, make sure you’re getting what you’re entitled to.
At the start of COVID-19, the UK government extended awards and reassessments for some people’s health and disability benefits. And face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits, including for new claims, were suspended since the first lockdowns.
But they've started again for some people’s PIP assessments and Work Capability Assessments (for Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance). You could have had a letter inviting you to a face-to-face appointment any time from May 2021.
Most assessments will still happen by post or over the phone, but you could be asked to attend a face-to-face one. All assessment centres should follow COVID-19 safety rules whenever they apply.
If you have a phone assessment, you can ask to have someone else on the call to support you. They can do this from their own phone wherever they are.
If you have questions or concerns about how you’ll be assessed, contact the relevant benefit helpline at gov.uk or get in touch with our MS Benefits Adviser (call our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000 or email [email protected]).
We're here for you. If you’re worried about your MS and coronavirus and want to chat to someone, call our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000. We’re here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays.
If you'd like to talk your worries through online with other people who know MS, visit our Online Community Forum today.
You can join one of our Time to Chat or Virtual Wellbeing sessions and connect online with other people living with MS across the UK. Or you could sign up for an information webinar. We've got plenty to choose from, take a look at our online sessions and see what suits you.
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