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Disability Advice Resource Team
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Cancer Support Service

“One in three of us will get cancer...two million of us are living with it.....We are all affected by cancer”  - Macmillan Cancer Support

Here in Calderdale, we are fortunate that the Calderdale & Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) funds a specific welfare benefits service for people affected by cancer.This service is delivered by Calderdale D.A.R.T.

People affected by cancer have always been able to access D.A.R.T.’s service.
However, because D.A.R.T has now been allocated funding from the Trust, we are able to offer a dedicated service which is specifically for those people living in Calderdale, who have cancer. 
This is delivered via a full time adviser post of 37 hours. The post is a job share, divided between two experienced Disability Rights Advisers.
This means that one of the advisers should always be available and allows us to deliver a year round service.
We visit clients in their own homes, as in-patients at Calderdale Royal or see them in our Halifax town centre office.
We also offer some flexibility around our working hours so that people who may work full time for example, can access the service outside of our usual office hours including Saturday mornings (by prior arrangement).

We receive referrals for the service from various agencies including: the Cancer Nurse Specialists; The Macmillan Nurses; Consultant Oncologists; GP’s; Palliative & Community Nursing Teams; Social Services etc. Clients can also self-refer to the service.

Many of our clients initially contact us because they do not know if they will be able to continue to work during their treatment or if they will be able to return to work at all. They need reliable advice and they usually need it fairly quickly. Our aim is to contact most clients within one week of referral and offer an appointment within 2 weeks for those who are terminally ill.

Some of the most frequently asked questions that we are asked are:

• I have cancer do I automatically qualify for benefits?
• I don’t know which benefit to apply for?
• I have some savings, would this limit my eligibility for benefit?
• What happens if I have to stop work?
• Does my employer have to keep paying me whilst I am off sick?
• Am I entitled to any financial help to keep my car on the road?
• How do I apply for this help?
• What about my rent or mortgage?
• Can I get help to travel to hospital for treatment?

Brief Answers to the above queries:

• No, you don’t automatically qualify for benefits unless you are categorised as terminally ill with a very limited prognosis.
• The benefits you would initially look at would be disability living allowance (for the under 65’s) or attendance Allowance (over 65’s), there are numerous other benefits which may or may not be appropriate.
• Savings would not limit eligibility for non-means tested benefits but they would possibly restrict entitlement to means tested benefits. Having savings doesn’t disqualify you from benefits so always seek advice.
• If you have to cease work, or change your job, you would need to look at replacements earnings benefit such as ESA which is sickness benefit or JSA which is jobseekers benefit.
• Entitlement to your company sickness scheme or SSP may depend upon your employers specific rules. You would for example, usually be better off staying in work if you were paid full pay when off sick, until eligibility for  that period ended.
• If you are under 65 years old, you may be eligible for some help to run a car via the motability scheme and or through entitlement to vehicle exemption duty. Over 65’s cannot get this help.
• Help with rent or mortgage payments is means tested so eligibility would depend upon your income. The same applies to help with hospital costs via a social fund payment.
• There are Macmillan and other charitable grants available for people who may not qualify for government help. You would need to seek advice about these.

We can provide a fuller and comprehensive response to questions like these, based upon each individual person’s circumstances.

Listed below are just some of the other things we can help with:

• We help people to apply for any appropriate benefits.
• We can complete the (often lengthy and off-putting) forms for benefits such as Disability Living allowance, Attendance Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance; Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.......etc.
• We can also help with appeals against incorrect benefit decisions.
• We complete applications for disabled parking badges (The Blue Badge Scheme).
• We issue RADAR Keys so that people who need to do so, can access toilets for people with disabilities.
• We help Carers to access benefits that they may be eligible for.
• We can refer you to other agencies for example; help with aids and adaptations to your home or for specialist      money/debt advice.

If anyone wishes to seek advice or make a referral to our Cancer Support Service, you can do so by telephoning us on 01422 346040.

You can email us at: calderdaledart@hotmail.co.uk

There is a link to contact us via our website:  www.calderdaledart.org.uk/referralform 

The Cancer Support Service Advisers are: Ruth Booth and Leanne Jarvis.

Macmillan Cancer Support also produces a range of excellent information booklets to cover all aspects of cancer.
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancerinformation.aspx