After an accident or injury, you may find yourself in financial difficulty. It is worth checking if you are eligible for welfare benefits. If so, you can start a claim while in hospital. Kara Smith answers some frequently asked questions here.
If eligible, you can receive the following benefits in hospital:
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit (instead of Universal Credit if you are over state pension age)
- Statutory Sick Pay (if you had been working before your admission)
- Employment and Support Allowance
However, you cannot receive the following benefits until you have been discharged:
- Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
If someone is caring for you once you have been discharged, they will be able to start a claim for Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Credits once you are home.
What can you do if someone is eligible for welfare benefits but cannot manage them themselves?
If an individual is eligible for welfare benefits but would struggle to manage these themselves due to their condition, you can apply to become their ‘appointee’.
An appointee is usually a friend or family member who will be responsible for managing the individual’s benefits. This includes making the application, receiving the payments and notifying the benefits office about any changes to the individual’s circumstances.
To become an appointee, you will need to call the following numbers for the relevant benefit:
- Personal Independence Payment – 0800 917 2222
- Attendance Allowance – 0800 731 0122
- Universal Credit – 0800 328 5644
- All other benefits – the individual’s local Jobcentre Plus, which can be found here.
Please note, you do not need a Power of Attorney or Deputyship to become an appointee.
What happens to my utility bills while I am in hospital?
It is worthwhile contacting the relevant organisations to explain that you are in hospital. What happens next will depend on the organisation, but some may be able to put your account on hold so you will not get charged. They will likely require confirmation from the hospital that you are a patient there. This could be a letter from your doctor, for instance.
You should also contact your local authority as you may be eligible for a reduction in your council tax if you have been in hospital for some time.
Can I access someone’s bank account to help them while they are in hospital?
When someone is in hospital, they may be unable to manage their bank account themselves, so family or friends may wish to help. However, strict data protection laws mean the bank (and any other organisation) cannot speak to anyone who is not named on the account unless:
- the individual provides the organisation with their consent for someone else to help them
- a Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputyship is in place.
If none of the above applies, it is worthwhile visiting your local branch to explain the situation. It would also be helpful to provide the bank with a letter from the individual’s hospital confirming their condition.
It is important to note that if someone lacks mental capacity and cannot manage their account themselves, the bank is likely to freeze their account. This means any payments going out may be stopped, but money can still go in.
If direct debits are still in place, you can contact the relevant organisations to explain the situation, so they understand why payments have stopped.
What can I do if my home is no longer suitable for my needs?
If you suffer a serious injury, you may need to adapt your property to make it suitable for your needs. This may include widening doors and installing ramps, installing a downstairs bathroom and adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.
You can ask your local authority to assist with minor and/or major adaptations. If you require major adaptations, you may be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). DFGs are means-tested, which means you may have to contribute towards the work.
You can find out more about home adaptations on your local authority’s website.
If adaptations cannot be undertaken to your current property, your local authority can help you to find a new home. However, it is important to note that there is a lot of demand for these properties, so you may be moved into temporary accommodation first.
You can apply for local authority housing via your local authority’s website.
Is there any help I can receive with transport once I am discharged from hospital?
If you have a condition that makes it harder for you to get around, you may be eligible for help from the following schemes:
- Blue Badge
- Disabled Person’s Railcard
- Disabled Person’s Bus Pass – in London, you would apply for a Disabled Person’s Freedom Pass instead.
- Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme
- Dial-a-Ride (London only)
- Access to Work (only for travel to/from your place of work)
The Legal Service – We are here to help
The Legal Service, delivered by our pro bono team, provides patients with advice without obligation, for however long it takes to resolve the issue. Our support is available regardless of the circumstances of an accident and regardless of whether a patient has a personal injury claim.
In these difficult times, the concerns of our pro bono clients are likely to be more stark than those in more fortunate circumstances. The Legal Service will be available throughout the crisis to help in any way we can to ease the burden on our clients.
To get advice from The Legal Service, please contact Kara Smith by phone on 020 7822 8000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find further information regarding our injury expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury pages.