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Benefits and hospital

Key information

When you or a member of your family go into or come out of hospital, the welfare benefits you get may change. What will happen to your benefits depends on the type of benefit you get. 

A stay in hospital can also affect the benefits your partner or carer gets. 

This section explains the rules relating to benefits when someone goes into hospital.

Applies to: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Please note: This is a complicated area and we recommend that you seek advice from an expert benefits adviser about your particular circumstances. You can use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to find a local adviser.

 

Index

You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Benefits in hospital

Some benefits stop being paid or are reduced, once you, your partner or child have been in hospital as an in-patient for a set period of time. Others are paid in full. 

You should tell whoever pays the benefit e.g. Jobcentre Plus, the Pension Service, HMRC or the Local Authority as soon as you go in to hospital. They can then make any changes that need to be made so that you are not paid too much, or too little.  If you move from a care home into hospital you also should tell the people paying your benefits straight away as the rules for hospitals and care homes are different. 

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Benefits that stop being paid if you go into hospital

Payments of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance (AA) you get will stop after you have been in hospital for 28 days. If your DLA, PIP or AA payments stop, they will be paid again as soon as you come out of hospital. If you come out of hospital, but have to go back in within 28 days your benefit will stop again as soon as you become a patient.   

If you were living in a care home before going into hospital and payment of DLA care component, PIP daily living component or AA had stopped, you will not be paid when you go into hospital.  Also after 28 days in hospital payment of the mobility component of DLA or PIP will stop.    

If you get the mobility component of DLA or PIP and are using it to buy a car under the Motability scheme; if you lose the allowance during your lease, arrangements will be made for the return of the car. However, you will only pay the cost of the lease until the car is returned, not for the remaining length of the lease. If you paid an Advance Payment , this will be refunded to you on a pro rata basis.

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Benefits that will be paid in hospital

If you get the following benefits, the amount you get for yourself will not change if you go into hospital.  You will carry on getting the benefit, but if you get any extra money in the benefit for another person, for example for a child or your partner this will usually stop after you have been in hospital for 52 weeks: 

If you get contributory Employment and Support Allowance, it will be paid in full while you are in hospital. Although from 30 April 2012, the amount of time you can claim it for will be limited to 365 days.

If you get contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, it will stop when you are sick and not able to look for work for more than 2 weeks. You should get advice to see if you can get another benefit instead, for example, Employment and Support Allowance.

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Carer’s Allowance

If you get Carer’s Allowance for looking after another person, your benefit will stop.  Carer’s Allowance will stop being paid when you have been in hospital for 12 weeks.  Benefit may stop before 12 weeks if you have had other breaks from caring in the six months before you go into hospital.  

If someone gets Carer’s Allowance for looking after you, for example your partner, their benefit will stop after you have been in hospital for 28 days.

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Means-tested benefits when you are in hospital

If any of the benefits you get is paid because you have low income and savings, it may go down after 28 days and go down again or stop after 52 weeks in hospital. For example you will stop being paid the severe disability premium after 28 days and will stop being paid the disability premium after 52 weeks.  If you are claiming benefit for your rent, Council Tax, housing costs or for your partner, see below for how this will change.

The following benefits are paid for your living costs if you have low income and savings:

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Statutory Sick Pay and Working Tax Credit

If you were working when you became ill, you might be getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). SSP will be paid for the first 28 weeks that you are not able to work. If you were not working, or were self-employed, you might be able to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). You may also get Working Tax Credit in addition to SSP or Employment and Support Allowance for the first 28 weeks if your income and savings are low.

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Benefits to help pay your rent, Council Tax or mortgage/home loan

If you rent your home and get Housing Benefit (HB) (HB England, Scotland and Wales) (HB Northern Ireland) or are buying your home and get help with interest on a loan repayment, your benefit will stop if you are going to be in hospital for more than 52 weeks. Your Council Tax Support will also stop if you are going to be in hospital for more than 52 weeks.

You should get advice from an expert benefits adviser if you are going to be in hospital for a long period of time.  If you have a partner they might need to make a claim for benefit. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local one.

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Benefits and going into hospital

Your partner's or carer’s benefit

Your partner should tell whoever pays them benefits that you have gone into hospital.  The amount of benefit they get may change if you are likely to be in hospital for more than 52 weeks or if they are your carer.

Your partner or carer will stop getting Carer’s Allowance once you have been in hospital for 28 days. You must also tell the people paying your benefits if your partner starts work, claims another benefit, or has any other change in circumstances that could affect the amount of benefit you or they get.     

If your partner is getting benefit for you, for example, Jobseeker’s Allowance, it might be better for you to claim benefit for them instead when you are in hospital.  For example, you may be able to get income-related Employment and Support Allowance for yourself and your partner and they will not have to look for work whilst you are ill. Get advice if this applies to you.

If you are going to be in hospital for more than 52 weeks, your partner might have to claim benefits for themselves.  What benefit they will get will depend on their circumstances, for example:

  • if they are sick or disabled they might get Employment and Support Allowance, or
  • if they can now be classed as a lone parent of a child aged under five they might get Income Support, or
  • if they are unemployed they might get Jobseeker’s Allowance. 

Get advice if this applies to you. You can use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to find a local adviser.

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Benefits for your children

You can carry on getting Child Benefit when you are in hospital as long as you use the money to support the child and no one else applies for the benefit for your child.  It may be better for someone else to claim Child Benefit especially if you are going to be in hospital for a long time. Get advice if this applies to you.

You can carry on getting Child Tax Credit for a child who normally lives with you when you are not in hospital. It might be better for someone else, for example the person looking after your child, to claim Child Tax Credit when you are in hospital. Get advice if this applies to you.

You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local adviser.

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Benefits when your child is in hospital

If your child usually lives with you but is in hospital, you will stop getting Child Benefit for them after they have been in hospital for 84 days. 

Child Tax Credit will carry on being paid for a child who normally lives with you, but who is in hospital.  Benefit may stop if the child is in hospital for a long period of time. Get advice if this applies to you. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local one.

If your child is in hospital and likely to be away from home for more than 52 weeks, you will stop getting money for them in your means-tested benefits

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Benefits and going into hospital

Claiming benefits when you go into hospital

If you are not getting any benefits when you go into hospital, for example, because you were working before you became ill, you might be able to get benefit when you are in hospital. If you are not well enough to return to work when you leave hospital, you can carry on getting benefit for as long as you meet the conditions for that benefit.

If you were working when you became ill and went into hospital you might be getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). SSP will be paid for the first 28 weeks that you are not able to work. You may also get Working Tax Credit for the first 28 weeks if your income and savings are low.

If you are not entitled to SSP and are not able to work due to ill health and you are aged under State Retirement Pension age, you could claim Employment and Support Allowance. If you are a woman who is aged over State Pension age or a man who has reached the State Pension age for a woman who has the same date of birth as you, you could claim Pension Credit. Please note that on 6 April 2010 State Pension age for women started to increase from 60 according to a schedule which would bring it in line with men's State Pension age by 2018. For more information see our guide to the State Pension age changes.

If your income or savings are low enough, these benefits can also help with payments towards a mortgage or other home loan, depending on how long you will be in hospital. If you rent your home you may get Housing Benefit (HB) (HB England, Scotland and Wales) (HB Northern Ireland).You may also get Council Tax Support.

If you are terminally ill, there are special rules for Employment and Support Allowance. You can get benefit from the first day of sickness and will not have to score points in a medical examination. You will get Employment and Support Allowance with a support component from the start of your claim even if you are in hospital.

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Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance

If you were not getting Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance when you went into hospital, if for example your need for care began when you went into hospital, you can make a claim whilst in hospital.  It will not be paid to you until you come out of hospital. 

If you are terminally ill

If you are terminally ill, there are special rules to help you get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Attendance Allowance (AA).

If your doctors say that you are terminally ill and reasonably expected to die within six months, you can get the highest rate of AA or highest rate of PIP daily living component straight away. You do not have to have been living in the UK for six months in the last year.

You will need to ask your doctor/healthcare professional for a form called a DS 1500 and fill in the ‘special rules’ section of the claim form. Another person, for example your carer, relative or friend, can apply for AA or PIP under the special rules for you without your knowledge. If someone else makes the claim for you, the money will still be paid to you.

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Benefits and going into hospital

Help with the costs of travel to hospital

If you have to visit hospital to attend outpatient appointments or have treatment, you may be able to get help with your travel costs and those of a companion (if this is medically necessary) paid to and from a place where you receive National Health Service (NHS) treatment.

If you get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit (guarantee credit) or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, you can claim back the costs of travel on form HC5 (link opens in a new window). You will usually make a claim at the hospital you are attending. If you get Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, you might also be able to claim help with travel costs if your gross annual income is £15,276 or less. You can also get help with travel costs if you get a war or service disablement pension and are going for NHS treatment for that disability.

If you do not get one of the benefits above but have a low income, you may get some help with travel costs.  You can apply for help with healthcare costs on form HC1. See the NHS Business Services Authority website for information about how to obtain a HC1 form (link opens in a new window).

You may be able to apply to your local authority's Local Welfare Provision scheme to help with travel costs to visit a relative or friend in hospital. This will depend on your local scheme. 

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Discharge from hospital

If you have spent time as an in-patient in a hospital, it is the hospital's duty to arrange a discharge plan before you return home.

The hospital should carry out a needs assessment to assess the level of care you need will need in order to cope at home safely. Although this will be co-ordinated by a hospital social worker or care manager, your local council's social services department should also be involved.

No one should be discharged from hospital until they have had this assessment.

The help you can get depends on your care needs. For more information, see the Turn2us section on Help from the local council (Illness, Injury and Disability).

Any carers you have should be involved in the planning of this assessment and their needs taken into account when the hospital is assessing your needs. They are also entitled to a Carer's Assessment in their own right, which could be carried out at the same time or separately. For more information see the Turn2us section on Help from the local council (Carers).

You remain the responsibility of the National Health Service (NHS) for six weeks after discharge, after which you become the responsibility of the local council's social services department.

If you are not assessed before leaving hospital, contact your social services department through your local council (link opens in a new window).

See the NHS Choices website for more information on leaving hospital (link opens in a new window).

Age UK have useful information on going into hospital and discharge procedures (link opens in a new window)

Financial help

If you cannot manage financially with the money you have when you are in hospital or when you come out of hospital, seek advice from a benefits adviser.  You can find a local one using the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool.

You might also be eligible for a grant or other help from a charitable fund. You can search for grants from charitable funds using the Turn2us Grants Search database.

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Benefits and going into hospital

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I only receive low mobility rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If I need more help at home after a spell in hospital, can I get a higher rate of DLA and if so, how do I do this?

To qualify for the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility or care component, you must have increased mobility and/or care needs for at least three months before the claim and expect to have them for at least six months after. If you do expect to have greater needs for at least a nine month period, you can ask the Disability Benefit Unit (DBU) (link opens in a new window) to look again at your DLA claim to see if you can get a higher rate of benefit. Be careful though as they could look at your circumstances and decide to take away the benefit you already have. This would happen if they think the award was wrong or they think you no longer need guidance and supervision. 

Lower rate mobility is paid because you need guidance and supervision from another person when walking outdoors. To get the higher rate of mobility component you must be unable or virtually unable to walk. When looking at whether you are virtually unable to walk, the DBU will need to find out how far you can walk, the manner in which you walk (e.g. with a limp or shuffling gait), the speed you walk at and the time you are able to walk without experiencing severe discomfort.

The care component of DLA can be paid if you need attention in connection with you bodily functions, for example help with:

  • washing
  • dressing
  • attending to personal hygiene
  • using the toilet, eating meals
  • moving around indoors
  • getting into and out of chairs
  • using stairs. 

The care component can also be paid if you cannot prepare and cook a main meal for yourself if you have the ingredients at home.

You can ask for your DLA claim to be looked at again by phoning or writing to the DBU. They will send you a new form to fill in to give details of your care and walking difficulties. If you would like help to fill in the form, a benefits advice service such as Citizens Advice may be able to help you. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local one.

Important Note: If you report a change in your mobility or care needs from October 2013 you will be assessed for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) instead of DLA. PIP is replacing DLA for people aged between 16 and 64.

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2. I receive Carer’s Allowance for my mother and she gets Attendance Allowance. She is going into hospital for several weeks. Do I have to tell the benefits office about this? How does it affect my entitlement to Carer’s Allowance?

Your mother will carry on being paid Attendance Allowance for the first 28 days she is in hospital.  If your mother is going to be in hospital for longer than 28 days, she will need to tell the Disability Benefits Unit (DBU) (link opens in a new window). You can contact DBU on her behalf if she is not able to do this herself. 

If your mother’s Attendance Allowance stops being paid, your Carer’s Allowance will also stop being paid. You will need to tell the Carer’s Allowance Unit (link opens in a new window) that your mother is in hospital and her Attendance Allowance has stopped. If you get other benefits, for example, Income Support and Housing Benefit (HB) (HB England, Scotland, Wales) (HB Northern Ireland), you can carry on getting the Carer’s Premium paid with those benefits for eight weeks after Carer’s Allowance stops. You will need to tell the Jobcentre Plus office (link opens in a new window) that Carer’s Allowance has stopped so they can adjust your benefit and avoid overpaying you. 

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3. Can I get help with my travel costs to and from hospital as an in-patient and outpatient?

If your income is low enough, or you get one of the benefits mentioned below, you can get help with the costs of travelling to and from hospital for treatment.  If you get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit (guarantee credit) or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, you will be able to claim the costs of travel. You will usually be able to make a claim using form HC 5 at the hospital you are attending. If you get Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, you might also be able to claim help with travel costs if your gross annual income is £15,276 or less.

If you do not get one of the benefits above but have a low income, you may get some help with travel costs and other healthcare charges. You can apply for help with healthcare costs on form HC1. See the NHS Business Services Authority website for information about how to obtain a HC1 form (link opens in a new window).

4. I have been very ill and I have been in hospital for a long time. I am about to leave and wonder if I qualify for any benefits or other help because I will be living on my own.

If you have care needs because of your health or disability, you should not be discharged from hospital until you have had an assessment of your continuing health care needs and, where necessary, of your community care needs. This will usually involve a hospital social worker and possibly a discharge coordination team. Help should be provided to help you when you go home.  What is available will depend on your care needs.

The hospital social worker should be able to advise you further about this or tell you what advisory services are available within the hospital.

See the NHS Choices website for more information on leaving hospital (link opens in a new window).

Age UK have useful information on going into hospital and discharge procedures (link opens in a new window)

Your local council (link opens in a new window) can provide help through community care services to help you with personal needs, care, essential equipment or adaptations you need to live at home. You might have to pay for this, depending on your financial circumstances. 

For more information, see help from the local council (Illness, Injury and Disability) 

If you cannot manage financially with the money you have when you come out of hospital, you might qualify for benefits, for example, Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. See our section for people who have an Illness, Injury or Disability.

If you are on a low income, you might also be eligible for a grant or other help from a charitable fund. You can search for grants from charitable funds using our Grants Search database.

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Last updated: 10 June 2013

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