If you are living with HIV and this is impacting on your quality of life and ability to work, you may be eligible for welfare benefits. Or you may currently be receiving benefits but are thinking about getting a job and may be worried that this will affect your eligibility for welfare payments. Whatever your circumstances, it’s important that you get the relevant information about what you are entitled to.
Some of the current welfare benefits available that you may be eligible for include:
i. Disability Living Allowance
This payment is available for disabled children and adults under 65 who need help looking after themselves. This benefit is not means-tested so is not dependent on your current income or savings. To find out how to apply go to www.direct.gov.uk or contact the benefits enquiry line 0800 88 22 00.
ii. Employment Support Allowance
This payment is available for people who are ill or disabled and therefore unable to work. This benefit is means-tested and is dependent on your current income, capital and savings. In order to apply you will need a letter from your GP or consultant and then contact Job Centre Plus on 0800 055 66 88.
iii. Housing Benefit
This payment is available for people in rented accommodation who are having difficulty paying their rent. This benefit is means-tested and is dependent on your current income, capital and savings.
iv. Jobseekers Allowance
This payment is available for people who are out of work but currently seeking work. This benefit is means-tested and is dependent on your current income, capital and savings. In order to apply contact Job Centre Plus on 0800 055 66 88.
The system that enables access to these welfare benefits can sometimes be daunting and confusing. Fortunately there is a lot of support available both locally and nationally to help you find out what benefits you may be eligible to receive.
Where to get help:
THT Direct is a telephone helpline staffed by a team of trained advisors – call 0808 802 1221 from 10am till 10pm weekdays and from 12pm till 6pm weekends.
Website that offers online advice from their team of advisors. Also contains lots of information about benefits.
Government website outlining the different welfare benefits available
Website with tips and information about benefits, written by and for people living with HIV
Citizens Advice Bureau
Citizens Advice Bureau is a national chain of volunteer staffed advice centres.
Sharrow Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)
416-418 London Road
Tel: 0114 258 3322
Pitsmoor Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)
30 Spital Hill
Tel: 0114 275 5376
South East Sheffield Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)
77 Queen Street
Tel: 0114 248 0043
Sheffield Social Work Team for people living with or affected by HIV. Contact 0114 226 1142.
South Yorkshire HIV Support Group. Contact 0114 278 7916.
*Source of benefits information from myHIV.org.uk
If you have paid enough National Insurance contributions during your working life in the UK you will be eligible to receive a state pension. The age at which you are eligible to claim your state pension is set to increase in coming years. In order to work out the age when you would be eligible to claim the state pension, click here.
You may also choose to take out a personal pension, where you determine how much money you put into the pension. This will affect how much money you receive when the pension plan matures. People living with HIV who have a personal pension may choose to apply to take early retirement and receive their pension earlier than originally planned.
Your employer may also operate a company pension scheme where you can make regular contributions via your wages. If you are forced to retire due to ill health you may be able to apply for early retirement on the grounds of ill health, though this will depend on your specific company scheme.
If you want further information or advice about the state pension or setting up a personal pension, click here.
In order to take out life insurance for an endowment mortgage certain questions will be asked about your health, which may include whether or not you have been diagnosed with HIV. It is important that you answer these questions honestly, as an insurance company will not pay out on a claim if you are found to have not told the truth. There is currently no standard life insurance policy that will cover people living with HIV if they die of an HIV-related illness.
However not all mortgage lenders require you to take out life insurance to secure a mortgage on a property. Many will be satisfied if you can prove you have enough regular income to pay the cost of the mortgage. Therefore it is important to find out whether life insurance would be required when seeking a mortgage. An independent financial adviser will be able to help you with this. Go to direct.gov.uk to find out more about independent financial advice.
It is important to draft a will to ensure that your inheritance (money, property, belongings) goes to the person(s) you wish to receive them after your death, rather than have that decision made by the state without your approval. This is particularly important if you are not married/civil partnered or if you have children under the age of 18.
If you are thinking about drawing up a will, it is important to get reliable legal advice from a solicitor to help with this process. The Community Legal Advice Helpline on 0845 345 4345 will be able to help you find a local solicitor in Sheffield to advise you on drawing up your will.
THT have also produced ‘Plan The Future: A Guide To Making A Will’ which may help you with the process of making a will. Click here to download the guide.
*Source of information from myHIV.org.uk
Power of Attorney
If you want to give the authority to someone to look after your financial affairs and your health and welfare, this is referred to as Lasting Power of Attorney. It is important to think about how you would want to manage your affairs if you were no longer able to make the decision yourself, then discuss this with and nominate someone you trust, whether that is a friend or family member.
In terms of setting up Lasting Power of Attorney, an independent financial adviser or an advice worker at a local citizen’s advice bureau will be able to help. Go to direct.gov.uk to get information about independent financial advice or go to citizensadvice.org.uk to find out where your nearest citizens advice bureau is.