Page last updated at 01:23 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

Cancer patients 'miss out' on 8m

Cancer patient
Terminally ill cancer patients are entitled to disability benefits

Cancer patients at the end of their lives are losing out on benefit payments worth millions of pounds, according to a leading cancer charity.

Macmillan Cancer Support said about £8m in disability benefits went unclaimed by people diagnosed with terminal cancer in Scotland every year.

The situation had improved since 2004 when £15m went unclaimed, it said.

Macmillan said 32% of people dying from cancer did not claim Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance.

It said terminally ill cancer patients were automatically entitled to these benefits.

The charity said low take-up was due to people not knowing they were eligible and the perceived stigma of claiming state benefits.

'Confusing and complex'

They said cancer patients should be routinely given access to financial information at the time of diagnosis.

Allan Cowie, Macmillan's general manager for Scotland, said: "The benefits system is confusing and complex and, for someone who is unwell, it can seem impossible to navigate.

"Cancer patients should be routinely given access to financial information at the time of diagnosis and as their condition progresses.

"This is because money worries are a huge source of stress to people, impacting on the quality of their lives and on their health. The last thing people should be worrying about towards the end of their lives is money."

Macmillan calculated the £8m figure by working out the difference between the number of deaths and the number of cancer-related benefits claims.

The charity estimated that payments over the final six months of a patient's life could total £1,677.



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