Benefits and financial assistance
Many people find that their financial situation changes after they have a stroke. This page tells you about the main benefits, grants and other financial help available, and where to go for specialist advice.
Financial changes after a stroke
Coping with the aftermath of stroke can be tough. You might be faced with financial difficulties if you are off work, or a family member reduces their working hours to be a carer. If you have a disability, you may need to pay more for things like heating, transport and specialist equipment. People tell us that this is a real worry.
Some financial help is available through the benefits system. You may also be able to get help via your employer, local council and other organisations.
You can check what benefits you might be able to get by using an online benefits calculator. These can also tell you about support available if you have been financially affected by coronavirus (Covid-19).
Online benefits calculators to try:
Benefit claims and coronavirus (Covid-19)
Because of Covid-19, many claims and assessments are done online or over the phone. Check the gov.uk website to find out more about the procedures for each benefit.
Help with energy bills and the cost of living
To help with higher costs this year, there are some extra payments and energy bill discounts. This government web page lists the main help available.
Cost of living help
- Cost of Living Payment - To help people on low incomes, payments will be made to households on means-tested benefits including Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Tax Credits.
- Disability Cost of Living Payment - For people claiming disability-related benefits including Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.
- Pensioner Cost of Living Payment - For people eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment, this payment is made in addition to other cost of living payments with benefits.
Energy costs help
- Energy Bill Discount - Automatic, non-repayable discount on your energy bills for all households in Great Britain from October. This applies in England, Scotland and Wales.
- Winter Fuel Payments - The government runs a scheme to help older people pay their energy bills. A Winter Fuel Payment is tax-free and paid regardless of your income or savings.
- Cold Weather Payments - If you’re not the right age to receive a Winter Fuel Payment, you may be able to receive Cold Weather Payments instead. You will only get these payments if you are receiving certain benefits.
Grants to help with heating costs
Many energy companies have trusts or funds that can help people who are struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills.
Citizens Advice provides information about grants available from energy suppliers to help you pay off energy debts.
Help with one-off expenses
Loans are available from the government to help pay for essential things like furniture, household equipment or hire purchase debts. These Budgeting Loans have to be paid back, but they are interest free, so you only pay back what you borrow.
How do I apply for a Budgeting Loan?
- If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, apply online on the gov.uk budgeting loanspage or contact the Social Fund on 0800 169 0140, Relay UK (if you can’t hear or speak on the phone) 18001 0800 169 0140, Welsh language line 0800 169 0240.
- If you live in Northern Ireland contact your local Jobs and Benefits Office.
Help in a crisis
Some local councils in England offer welfare assistance schemes to help people on a low income. Contact your local council to find out what grants you can apply for.
In Scotland, local councils offer Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants through the Scottish Welfare Fund. Visit the mygov.scot websitefor information about grants.
In Wales the Discretionary Assistance Fund provides grants to people who need help in an emergency or with immediate costs of living. Find out more online at the gov.wales website or call 0800 859 5924.
In Northern Ireland you can sign up for Discretionary Support, which provides grants and interest-free loans for people in a crisis situation. You can apply online at the nidirect.gov.uk website, or call the Finance Support Service on 0800 587 2750 or contact your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits Office.
There are also grants available from some charities to help with one-off expenses.
- Headway offer an emergency fund of up to £1000 in the immediate aftermath of a brain injury.
- Independence at Homeprovides grants to people of all ages who have a physical or learning disability or long-term illness and who are in financial need.
Phone: 0208 427 7929
- National Benevolent Charity provide grants that can help with utility costs.
- The Tavistock Trust for Aphasiaoffer grants for people with aphasia for up to £1000.
Useful websites for grant information
- Sense offer information on grants for disabled people.
- Grants Onlineoffer information about many of the Cost of Living Grants available.
- Turn2us has a grants search available.
- Lightening Reach is a service enabling access to a wide range of financial support.
Universal Credit (UC)
Universal Credit (UC) is the main benefit for working-age people. UC is now in place for most new benefit claims across the UK.
The benefits replaced by Universal Credit are: Income Support, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) income-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. These are now known as ‘legacy benefits’.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
To claim Universal Credit, visit the gov.uk website. All claims are made online. You will need a bank account.
If you don’t have internet access, or you have a problem with your online account, call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644,textphone 0800 328 1344. To make a claim in Welsh call 0800 328 1744.
Benefits if you have an illness or disability
Sick pay from your employer
If you were working before your stroke, your employer may have a company sick pay scheme, which will entitle you to pay while you are off work. How much you get and how long you receive it will depend on the contract you have, so speak to your employer about what you are entitled to.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If your company does not have a sick pay scheme, you can still get up to £96.35 statutory sick pay (SSP) a week if you are too ill to work. This is paid by your employer in the same way as your normal wages.
Check the gov.uk statutory sick pay page for the latest information on SSP for self-isolating.
New-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If you cannot work because of an illness or disability you may be able to claim ESA. You must be under State Pension age and not receiving Statutory Sick Pay. This benefit is now part of Universal Credit for most new applications. If you have paid enough National Insurance contributions, you can claim ‘new style ESA’. It is contribution-based, and is not affected by your partner’s income and savings.
How do I claim ESA?
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, apply by phone. To claim New Style ESA online visit the gov.uk employment support allowance page. You can also apply by phone using the Universal Credit helpline 0800 328 5644, textphone 0800 328 1344.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can apply at the ndirect.gov.uk website or call the ESA Centre on 0800 085 6318.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or disability. It replaces a benefit called Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
To qualify for PIP you must be aged between 16 and 64. You must have a long-term illness or disability that affects your ability to get around or complete daily activities such as preparing food or managing your medication. You must have been experiencing difficulties for three months and expect them to last for at least another nine months.
How do I claim PIP?
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, call the PIP claim line on 0800 917 2222 textphone 0800 917 7777.
If you live in Northern Ireland, call the PIP Centre on 0800 012 1573, textphone 0800 587 0937.
Attendance Allowance (AA)
If you have reached state pension age and need help with your personal care because you have a disability, you may be able to claim AA. In most cases, you must have needed help for at least six months before you can receive AA.
How do I claim AA?
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales call the AA Helpline on 0800 731 0122, textphone 0800 731 0317.
If you live in Northern Ireland call the Disability and Carers’ Service on 0800 587 0912, textphone 0800 012 1574.
Council Tax Reduction (England, Scotland and Wales)
If your income is low, you live alone, or you are claiming benefits you may be able to get a Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Support). This has replaced Council Tax Benefit.
Go to the gov.uk council tax discount for disabled people page for more information.
How do I apply for a Council Tax Reduction?
- Contact your local council.
- In Northern Ireland, home owners can apply for Rate Relief, and people on Universal Credit can apply for Rate Rebate, via the nidirect.gov.uk website.
There is a cap on the total amount of benefits that people can receive. To work out whether your benefits will be reduced because of the cap, visit the gov.uk benefit cap calculator here.
What if I am not happy with a decision about my benefit?
If your claim is rejected, or you think you are getting the wrong amount, you can appeal against the decision.
Visit the gov.uk appeals page for information on the appeals process. Appealing against a benefits decision can be a complex process so it is a good idea to get expert advice.
Loans and grants for home adaptations
Disabled Facilities Grants (England, Northern Ireland and Wales)
If you have a disability and need to make changes to your home so that you can continue to live there (such as installing a stairlift or a downstairs bathroom, for example) you may be able to get a grant from your local council to help you.
These grants are only available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you live in Scotland, ask your local Social Services department if there are any grants you may be able to apply for.
How do I apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant?
- If you live in England or Wales contact your local council or social worker if you have one.
- If you live in Northern Ireland, contact your local Health and Social Services Trust. You can also speak to your GP or social worker.
Help with health costs
NHS Low Income Scheme
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland prescriptions are free for everyone. In England they are free for certain people, including those over 60 and under 16.
If you are on a low income you could get help with health costs such as prescriptions, dental care, fares to appointments, eye tests and glasses. For more information go to NHS Low Income Scheme page.
How do I apply for the NHS Low Income Scheme?
- Fill in form HC1 and return it by post. You can get the form from Jobcentre Plus office, hospital or GP surgery. You can order the form online from the nhs.uk help with health costs page.
If you have questions you can call 0300 330 1343.
For more information visit nhsbsa.nhs.uk low income scheme page to apply online.
Prescription prepayment certificates (England only)
If you’re not eligible for the NHS Low Income Scheme, but pay for a lot of prescriptions, a Prescription Prepayment Certificate could still save you money.
Like a season ticket, it covers you for all of your NHS prescriptions within that time.
How do I buy a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC)?
Buy online at the nhsbsa.nhs.uk help with NHS prescription costs page. Some pharmacies are registered to sell PPCs, or you can buy over the phone 0300 330 1341.
- Download Benefits and financial assistance guide (PDF)
Where to get help and information from the Stroke Association
Call us on 0303 3033 100,from a textphone 1800 0303 3033 100
Our Helpline offers information and support for anyone affected by stroke, including family, friends and carers.
Read our information
Call the Helpline to ask for printed copies of our guides.
Other sources of help and information
Provides information for disabled people and their carers on issues such as employment, benefits and entitlements.
Local council Use the postcode search to get contact details for your local council
NI Direct Information on employment, benefits, tax credits and grants and how to claim in Northern Ireland.
JobCentre Online NI Tel: 0300 200 7822
mygov.scot How to find and use public services in Scotland.
Stay Safe, Warm and Well video by the Royal Voluntary Service. There is also a PDF that you can request.
Advice Line: 0800 678 1602
Offers individual support and advice about benefits.
Helpline: 0800 124 4222
Advice and practical support with claiming benefits in Scotland.
Carers Line: 0808 808 7777
Provides support and information for carers.
England: 0800 144 8848
Wales: 0800 702 2020
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS)
Helpline: 0800 023 1456
Citizens Advice Ireland
Citizens Advice is a free advice service that can help you deal with a wide range of issues. They give benefits advice and can help you fill in the claim forms. To find details of your local Citizens Advice branch, their advice line number and open door sessions visit their website or look in your local telephone directory.
Disability Law Service
Phone: 020 7791 9800
Provides free legal advice to disabled people and their families and carers. Assists with complaints to Ombudsmen and social services and can represent people at benefit appeal tribunals.
Disability Rights UK
Phone: 020 7250 3222
Publishes the annual Disability Rights Handbook and factsheets on the different benefits available and the planned changes to the benefits system.
Tel: 0800 011 3797
Set up by the government to offer free, unbiased, independent advice on all money matters. Visit the website or call the helpline.
Debt advice: 0800 138 1111
Offers free, impartial advice on managing debts and other money matters.
British Gas Energy Trust
Tel: 0121 348 7797
Apply for a grant to help with energy bills, other household debts or essential items.
Florence Nightingale Aid in Sickness Trust
Tel: 0207 998 8817
Provides grants for help with services, equipment and respite breaks.
Disclaimer: The Stroke Association provides the details of other organisations and apps for information only. Inclusion on My Stroke Guide does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement.