Hi Kelly Hi Kelly
I will be really interested to read about the problems you have had with the benefits system in your blog. My experience has been horrendous. I have been told so many contradictory things that it\'s just unbelievable. I have written to my MP (see other threads) regarding financial issues for cancer sufferers and how appalling the benefit system is.
I would estimate that I have now spent well over 10 hours on the phone trying to sort out my Incapacity Benefit. The whole thing has reduced me to tears let alone worn me out and given me headaches!
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Hi Lynn Thought I had replied to this but it doesn\'t seem to have appeared. Moderator if it does appear twice please feel free to delete one!
You can claim travel costs back through HTCS (Hospital Travel Costs Scheme). There are certain criteria that you have to have to qualify - you have to be on certain benefits, have savings of less than Ã‚Â£8000, or have child/working Tax Credit at the level where you get a white plastic credit type card that enables you to have free prescriptions.
You need to find the cash office at the hospital you are attending - not always easy! If you have the white plastic credit card thing then it is fairly straightforward to simply get the cash back - they may ask you to get a form signed by the people who are treating you. You can also ask there for an HC5 form and use that to claim your costs back.
I hope this helps.
Some of my comments to my MP stated that whilst there are schemes in place to help patients they are badly publicised and so most of the time people are totally unaware of them.
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Brief response from MP re Travel costs etc As mentioned in earlier threads my MP requested my comments on a letter he had from Rosie Winterton Minster of State of Health regarding the financial issues of having cancer - such as Hospital Travel Costs, claiming benefits etc.
I sent a lengthy letter last week and I have just had an email from his secretary saying that he has sent it onto Rosie Winterton and has also sent a copy to the Shadow Health Team.
I will update you if I hear anymore.
Thanks for all your help and responses - it enabled me to write with clear examples of the problems we face.
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Hi Ling Hi
I\'ve never seen counsel by myself. My solicitor has always been with me and done virtually all the talking.
Counsel/Barristers are normally very well-clued up and once they get involved you don\'t have to worry!
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Lynne and Ling Hi Lynne
No. I don\'t qualify for Income support - but the way my hard earned savings are depleting it\'s only a matter ot time!
Your ex sounds similar to mine. I spent hours and hours on my Form E making sure it was accurate, illustrating every point with bank statements, credit card statements etc - even cash in my purse. My ex hastily filled his in with numbers plucked out of the air and even said it was just his \"broad circumstances\". My solicitor promptly asked questions - we didn\'t get answers until the day we went to court and even then they weren\'t right - he just got away with it. I did everything by the book. It makes me so so angry.
A counsel is a barrister that your solicitor has appointed to help him with the case. It\'s not unusual to meet them literally just before the hearing with the judge. Be reassured they are generally very professional and will have spent hours studying your case (wait for the bill!!). The lady I had last time was brilliant - she had been up until 3 a.m ploughing through files of my case notes and by the time we went into court she knew it inside out. Generally it is a very good thing to have Counsel.
An FDR is a hearing in front of a judge - but by the time you get into see the judge the idea is that the your barrister and solicitor will have thrashed out some deal with your ex\'s barrister and solicitor. The way it works at my Court buildings is that they have little conference rooms off the main waiting room and then you and your team have one and your ex and his team have one. The two barristers then go backwards and forwards - meeting in the corridor sometimes to try and reach some kind of deal. By the time you get into see the judge it should be moreorless agreed and then he will \"rubber stamp\" it. I found it extremely frustrating that once in front of the judge I didn\'t get a chance to speak. The barristers did it all. I knew some of it was lies and I wasn\'t allowed to say anthing. I still don\'t understand why we have to keep quiet.
Sorry to disappoint you but it will more than likely be based on your ex\'s questionable financial information - unless you can concretely prove that he is lying. I knew my ex husband must have hidden some money in some other account - handed it over to his new wife - whatever - but there was nothing I could do - it is so so frustrating.
My ex has recently asked for a medical report on me to prove I have had cancer - which cost me Ã‚Â£250. Believe me I was tempted to turn at his solicitors office and strip down to the waist. I think it is despicable what your ex is doing.
Not wishing to depress you but the court process is trying. I had a court order on my husabnd about 4/5 years ago. He never paid me what he was supposed to do. I ended up taking him back to court to claim the arrears, it cost me a fortune and I never got the full amount back. According to my barrister, judge\'s never make people pay the full amount of arrears back because if they have managed to live on less then they don\'t need the full amount. The law is a joke! I have several friends going through this process and they have all found the same thing.
The law seems to be biased towards the men, they seem to be able to get away with being vague about their financial situation whereas because we are asking for money we have to be heavily scrutinised.
I wasn\'t able to because I got divorced before the new law came in but you should get a chunk of your ex\'s pension. Make sure that your solicitor/barrister ask for this.
It might be worth mentioning to your solicitor the McFarlane v McFarlane case. It was a recent landmark ruling by the House of Lords where they now say that a married woman who has given up her career to look after children and husband should receive money as sort of compensation. Basically the law is turning round slightly and is finally realising that it is not fair for us women who (in agreement with husbands at the time) give up career, money etc to support the family and then when getting divorced end up badly off financially compared to how they would have been if they had carried on working.
If you go to the above website address and click on the news scrolling round the bottom when it says HOUSE OF LORDS RULING McFarlane v McFarlane click on it and it will take you to more info.
Similarly the following is a lengthy somewhat indigestible document relating to the case
I\'d better stress that these are my personal experiences of FDR\'s, Form E, Counsel etc - it might well be different for you in your area. I guess different Courts and different judges work differently.
Hope this helps though.
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Hi Blondie Are you self-employed? If you are then (no matter what a JobCentrePlus tells you) then you can pay back enough NI to take you to a level where you can claim IB.
I think (but I\'m not sure) that the Married Woman\'s stamp is similar to the HRP (Home Responsibilites Protection) stamp in that it keeps up your state pension but otherwise is effectively useless. I am so very angry about this as I asked repeatedly about paying NI and was always told not to worry.
I agree with you - I think it must be easier for people arriving in the country to get help. I think a system is in place for them.
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NI - Incapacity Benefit. Hi Ling
I am also going through maintenance problems with my ex-husband - it\'s a nightmare. Have you had to do your Form E yet? I have been battling with my ex for over 10 years now and I have done so many of these wretched things and been to court more times than I would like to count. I had a court order in Dec 2004 with the amount my ex was to pay me based on me starting a new job teaching in Jan 2005 - I did 2 days because of being diagnosed with bc - of course I am not earning the money predicted. The whole thing has been a nightmare - it looks like I have to go back to court again. You have my utmost sympathy. If I can help at all with your FDR please don\'t hesitate to ask me anything.
Ni is a nightmare. I think you do get a sort of share of your husband\'s NI contributions - up until divorce. If your children are under 16 and you are receiving Child Benefit you get something called HRP (Home Responsibilites Protection). This covers your NI for keeping your state pension uptodate BUT doesn\'t cover Incapacity Benefit - it\'s not a \"full\" stamp.
If you have been working casually, I\'m not sure what you have been doing but that could well count for being self-employed. When I was self-employed I was told I didn\'t need to pay NI - but that was actually wrong. If you earn less than around Ã‚Â£2000 per year you don\'t have to pay - you need to fill out some sort of exemption certificate BUT like HRP it means that you don\'t have a \"full\" stamp and therefore it doesn\'t entitle you to any benefits.
I always declared my self-employed earnings on my tax return so it has been possible for them to check up on my records. If you haven\'t declared your earnings it could be a little more tricky. Not sure how the Inland Revenue will view it. If you are self-employed you can back by years and years of NI - it workds out at just over Ã‚Â£2 per week.
To claim IB (which is about Ã‚Â£70 per week) you need to have full NI contributions for the qualifying period. I was told that to claim now I need to have paid my NI back to April 2003. You need to ask your JobCentre Plus about your qualifying period. Go to the following web site and find the phone number of your nearest office.
You then need to phone the NI Self-employment Contributions agency 0845 9154 655 and tell them the period that you want to pay back. They will send you a bill. WARNING - don\'t ask them to send you a bill if you are not sure about it - the way the bill is worded is that once you get it then you do have to pay it.
Once you have done this you can then go back to the JobCentrePlus and apply for Incapacity Benefit. If you have only just paid your NI back then you have to wait for 6 weeks before putting in a claim. It\'s some sort of penalty.
I also found the BEL Benefits Enquiry Line to be helpful
0800 88 22 00
It might be worth trying to sort out your NI before you have your recon so you can claim something then. Whilst on IB you can still earn around Ã‚Â£80 before losing it.
Hope this helps - sorry it\'s so muddly but the system is very difficult!
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Hi Jo Hi Jo
In the letter and accompanying stuff I did bring up other financial issues too.
I raised the point about how difficult it is to claim benefits, cost of creams to counteract radiotherapy, complementary therapies, car parking, travel. I made a point of telling him that all these extra costs come at a time when inevitably your income has decreased because of cancer - either because of working less or because of losing your job.
I did mention prescription charges and I printed off BCC \"Prescription for Change\" campaign.
As I said, I did try to summarise things succinctly in the main letter - I didn\'t want him to open it and think it was just too much to sit down and read. However I hope with the accompanying stuff I have managed to give him a lot more details about our problems.
Will update you if I hear anything back.
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Comments to MP - Travel costs etc Hi everyone
I have finally got my thoughts together and written to my MP - see earlier threads about MP and Hospital Travel Costs.
I sent a 2-page letter summarising our thoughts and problems and then enclosed another 12 pages detailing everything under various headings. I thought if he just opened a 14 page letter he probably wouldn\'t read it but I\'m hoping the shorter letter will grab his attention and then he will be interested enough to want to read more - well that\'s the theory anyway! It was really helpful to be able to illustrate the points with real-life examples.
Thank you all very much for your input - greatly appreciated.
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Hi Lambkin Thanks for the posting and for asking how I am getting on.
To say the whole thing has been a complete nightmare is an understatement. I have so far spent 7 hours on the phone (just in the last week) trying to sort this one out. I totally agree with you - speaking to 6 offices to sort out a claim too much when you are well and unthinkable when you are not feeling your best.
I have been self-employed for years and never paid NI as despite asking numerous times was told that I didn\'t need to. Jan 2005 I started part-time work as a teacher but also intended to keep on some of my cleaning self-employed stuff. In effect I was both employed and self-employed at the same time - quite legitimate, lots of people do it. I lost my teaching job 2 days after starting due to dx - must be shortest teaching career ever! I got SSP and when that ran out I applied for IB. I was told that I couldn\'t claim any money as I hadn\'t paid enough NI (not my fault as for years I been asking about that!) but that it was worth still carrying on with the claim as even though I couldn\'t get any money I could keep my NI up to date. I asked if there was anything I could do to improve my NI so I could claim some money - I was told no - this was last August. 2005 (This was wrong information as I found out a couple of weeks ago). I had to go for a medical and was signed off until at least May 2007.
A few weeks ago I saw a barrister regarding maintenance with my ex-husband. She told me that being self-employed I could pay back as much NI as I liked and therefore would be able to claim IB. I went back to JobCentrePlus and this is indeed the case - why didn\'t they tell me this in August 2005?!! This has then started yet another round of phone calls to NI, Inland Revenue etc etc. Trying to find out just how much NI I need to pay back has been a nightmare. I can\'t begin to tell you how many calls that has involved. I have had 2 completely different bills from NI - no dates on for which periods the back contributions count for. It seems like they just pluck a number out of the air and bill you!
The thing that finally reduced me to tears on the phone was when the JobCentrePlus agreed that once I had settled my NI bill I could claim proper IB but wait for it....... I have to write and stop the current claim, wait 6 weeks - making sure I voluntarily pay NI for those 6 weeks, then apply to start a new claim from scratch - visit GP for sick note, go for another medical etc etc. I can\'t believe this. I am signed off sick from one of their IB doctors until May 2007 but they can\'t carry notes forward if I want to change my claim from just NI to NI and money. To say that it has made me despair is an understatement.
I have now paid back my NI - the office have advised me to wait a couple of weeks as it takes time to filter through the system before cancelling my current claim. Then 6 weeks after that - making a total of 8 - put in for a new claim. Whilst the new claim is being processed - will take weeks, I have to carry on paying NI and then can claim it back (more forms!) once it has been sorted. I just want to go to bed and pull the duvet over my head!
What I am really annoyed about though is that through no fault of my own I have been considerably financially disadvantaged. If I had been told over the years that I should pay NI (I did ask!) then I would have been able to claim from last August. Similarly if I had been told last August that I could pay back NI (again I asked!) then equally I could have claimed. I have lost a whole year of IB and it really has been because I have been given totally wrong information.
I have detailed this in my letter to my MP together with comments about Travel Costs etc. I will post if I get a response from him.
I am really pleased that you finally managed to sort out your claim. You are so right - people in our situation just do not need this hassle.
Thanks Lynn for your offer of help - if we had contact buttons on this site I would take you up on that!
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Hospital Transport Costs Scheme - Are you aware of financial I am just trying to reply to my MP\'s letter requesting my comments about financial assistance for cancer patients.
In the letter to him from the Minister of State, Rosie Winterton states that there is a scheme called the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) to provide financial assistance. She goes on to state that patients should be informed of HCTS in their appointment or admission letter. Also leaflets and posters should be available in patient areas.
I would like to be able to respond properly to my MP. My experience is that I never received a letter informing me of HCTS with any appointment letter and I have never seen a poster or leaflet about it.
I would like to know:
a) Have you ever heard of HCTS?
b) Did you receive information about this with your admissions/appointment letter?
c) Have you ever seen a poster/leaflet in a patient waiting area?
I would be really grateful for your help on this one. If I can go back to MP and say that out of 50 women (or whatever) dotted around the country only 2 (or whatever) have ever come across this information then it will add weight to my arguement that whilst these things are in place it is not easy to find them out - particularly when you are feeling ill and trying to deal with the emotional side of having cancer.
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Hi Lambkin Hi
I have the utmost sympathy with you - the whole thing is a nightmare - all at a time when we are not feeling our best.
My MP has asked me for comments on various things - see thread in this forum and one of the things that I am going to emphasise in my reply is that while there are various things in place to help us actually getting that help is a nightmare.
A woman I spoke to at JobCentrePlus yesterday was exceptionally nice and understanding. She said that she had gone through various claims (IB) etc with her mother and found the whole thing a complete nightmare - and she said that was from someone working in the system. She added that the whole thing exhausted her and that she was feeling well so she said she couldn\'t imagine what it must be like when you are not well and trying to claim!
Similarly to you Lambkin, the main thing I have found is that the different offices do not speak to each other. I have found I phone 1 to get a bit of info, phone another one to tell that whatever it is, they then need to know something else and so have to phone someone else and get another little piece of the jigsaw. One person dealing with Incapacity in a JobCentrePlus told me that she didn\'t know enough about IB and suggested that I go to see the Citizens Advice Bureau. At this point I just about lost it. Surely a person dealing with IB at an official office should know!
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Self employment, Incapcity benefit, lack of NI I have spent hours (literally!) this week trying to resolve my IB problems.
I have spoken to several different JobCentrePluses, NI Agency, Self-employed Ni agency, Inland revenue and BEL (Benefits Enquiry Line) - all of the above several times just today!
It seems that none of them talk to each other and you need to know exactly and I mean exactly what specific question to ask. I think I am finally getting somewhere. If I can help anyone and save them some hours on the phone then I am very happy to.
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Update Have got back through to JobCentre Plus this morning. They agree now that I can pay back NI and claim IB BUT despite being qualified for IB until at least May 2007 I will have to start the whole procedure again. I have to fill out all the forms again and start from scratch. I will have to go and have another medical as it will be considered to be a new claim. If new claim is approved then I will have a 6 week period where I can\'t claim anything due to being \"naughty\" and not paying my NI at the right time. I cannot face it.
Seriously fed-up now!
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