Terminally ill people and benefits

This information applies to England and Wales.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has 'special rules' for people with a terminal diagnosis.

If you’re eligible, your claim could be fast-tracked and you would not need a medical assessment. You would also fill in fewer forms to claim benefits.

Calculate your benefits to find out what you’re entitled to.

‘Special’ DWP benefit rules for fast claims and no medical assessments

If you have a terminal diagnosis, special DWP rules should mean that:

  • your claim is fast-tracked
  • you do not need a medical assessment

There are no benefits that are just for people with a terminal illness. But depending on your circumstances, you may also qualify for a higher rate for:

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance


To be eligible for these special rules, all the following must apply:

  • your doctor thinks you might have less than 12 months to live, which means that you are terminally ill
  • you have a condition that gets worse over time
  • you are applying for an eligible benefit:
    • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Universal Credit (UC)
    • Attendance Allowance (AA) for pensioners
    • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for adults
    • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children

You will need to ask your doctor to fill in an SR1 form. This replaced the DS1500 form.

Completing the SR1 form (GOV.UK)


You may be eligible for different benefits depending on your circumstances. For example, if:

  • you are under or over State Pension age
  • you cannot work or do work-related tasks
  • you struggle with everyday tasks

You may be eligible for more than 1 benefit.

Calculate your benefits to find out what you might be eligible for.

Benefits calculator (Turn2us)

Adults under State Pension age

If you’re over 16 and under State Pension age, you may be eligible for:

Adults over State Pension age

If you’re State Pension age or older, you may be eligible for:

  • Attendance Allowance if you need help caring for yourself or doing things like getting dressed, getting undressed, washing yourself or eating
  • Pension Credit if you have a low income


Do not claim Attendance Allowance if you are receiving PIP

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is usually more than Attendance Allowance.

If you claim Attendance Allowance, you cannot go back to claiming PIP.

PIP has a mobility component that you could use to pay for a vehicle under the Motability Scheme. You cannot use Attendance Allowance for Motability.

  • You can only start claiming PIP if you are under State Pension age.
  • You can carry on receiving PIP after you reach State Pension age.
  • You cannot start claiming PIP when you are over State Pension age

Children under 16

If you’re under 16, you may be eligible for:

If you receive DLA, you and your family may also be eligible for other benefits.

What else you’re entitled to when your child gets DLA

If you’re over 16, you cannot claim DLA but you may be eligible for PIP.

Carers, including family and friends


You may stop being eligible for Severe Disability Premium if a person supporting you is receiving:

  • Carer’s Allowance
  • or the carer element of Universal Credit

If you care for someone with a terminal illness, you could be eligible for other benefits.

Calculate your benefits to find out what you could be eligible for.

Backdated benefit claims

Claim benefits as soon as you can.

Your disability benefits will be backdated to when you applied, but not before. These include:

  • PIP
  • DLA
  • Attendance Allowance

The DWP can backdate these benefits if they decide you have a ‘good’ reason:

  • Universal Credit up to 1 month
  • Employment and Support Allowance up to 3 months

A ‘good’ reason could include:

  • being in hospital
  • having to wait for advice on your benefits claim
  • your health stopping you from claiming earlier

If it’s more than 1 month since your diagnosis, the DWP will only backdate your claim if they think you have a ‘good’ reason.

Carer’s Allowance can usually be backdated 3 months. If the person being cared for gets backdated disability benefits from the DWP, the DWP can backdate Carer’s Allowance as well.

Contact the office for the benefit you want to backdate as soon as possible after you get your diagnosis:

Help with bills and the cost of living

You may be eligible for help with bills.

Help if you use medical and disability equipment

Discount on water bills and help with debt

Some community food banks do not need a referral.

Free food and food banks


Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for grants for things like:

  • living costs
  • holidays

Turn2us grants search

Disability Grants

Macmillan grants for people with cancer

Disability aids and assistive technology

Most disabled people who need equipment to help them to live more independently can get it from their local authority. This is free. You will need to ask for a social care needs assessment for things like:

Some people are eligible to have their social care needs paid for by NHS continuing healthcare. The rules for this can be complex.

Paying for disability equipment and assistive technology

Last reviewed by Scope on: 17/10/2023

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