Other financial support
In addition to the disability benefits you might be able to claim, there are various funds and concessions that might make living with MS easier.
As is the case with benefits, some other sources of financial help may be means-tested, meaning you are more likely to be eligible if you are on a low income.
However, even if you are not on a low income, there may be some sources of help that are available to everyone with a disability.
Find out more about:
- The Social Fund
- Free public transport
- Disabled Facilities Grant
- Help with keeping warm in winter
- Prescription charges
- Dealing with debt
Remember to also read about about MS Society grants towards items you may need as a result of your MS.
A system of grants, payments and loans for a variety of needs that are difficult to meet from weekly benefits. It could help with costs associated with a new baby, one-off payments for large items, like furnishing a home, or arranging a funeral. If you need financial help to live independently, or to ease exceptional pressure on you and your family, you may be able to get a Community Care Grant. You don't have to pay it back.
Free off-peak travel on all local buses is available to eligible disabled people anywhere in England - find out more on the GOV.UK's website. Similar schemes operate in Scotland and Wales. Application forms are available from local authorities.
In Northern Ireland, people who are in receipt of the higher or lower rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance are eligible for a half fare travel pass. Applications are available from www.nidirect.gov.uk.
A Disabled Person’s Railcard entitles you to a third off the cost of most UK train journeys. National Rail can give you more details.
A Disabled Facilities Grant (this is called the Scheme of Assistance in Scotland) is a local council grant to help towards the cost of adapting your home to enable you to continue to live there. You might be eligible for a grant if the council agrees that changes are necessary to meet your needs, and that the work is reasonable and practical.
During a very cold winter, the costs of heating can quickly add up. If you’re receiving certain benefits, you may be eligible for Cold Weather Payments. These are different from Winter Fuel Payments which are paid to people of pensionable age.
To find out about ways of helping you to keep your house warm and reduce heating bills, contact the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234. In some parts of the UK there are government schemes to improve heating and energy efficiency:
- the Energy Assistance Package in Scotland
- NEST in Wales (www.nestwales.org.uk)
If you're worried about your fuel bills this winter and are conserving energy to reduce costs, investigate the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which offers grants of £140 towards fuel costs. If you are affected by MS you can either contact their energy provider, or go to the government website and follow the instructions.
Applications must be made before Thursday 31 December 2015 for payment by Thursday 31 March 2016. If you are successful in getting a grant please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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, prescriptions can be expensive. You may save money by buying a prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC) if you will 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 are in receipt of certain benefits or living with certain conditions (such as epilepsy).
For some people, however much they budget, the change in their circumstances is so great that they cannot continue to pay for the essentials – rent, mortgage, utility bills and so on.
If you are in serious debt, it is essential to seek advice. GOV.UK's debt pages are very useful, including advice on what debts must be prioritized.
The National Debtline provides advice for those in debt.
For further professional advice, you can search for an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) in your telephone book. 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.