Coping with financial impact of cancer

This page has advice to help you cope with the financial impact of cancer. There is information on:


Benefits for people who are sick or have a disability

There are a number of social welfare payments for people who are sick or who have a disability. Payments are made either by the Department of Social Protection or the Health Service Executive (HSE). To qualify for a social welfare payment because you are sick or have a disability you must be certified as sick or disabled by a doctor.

You can qualify for certain payments if you are sick for just a short time. For other payments you need to show that you have an illness or disability that will last longer than one year. Some social welfare disability payments are based on your PRSI contributions. If you do not have enough PRSI contributions you may qualify for a similar social assistance payment, however, you must pass a means test.
• Illness Benefit is intended for those with a short-term illness.
• Invalidity Pension is a long-term payment.

Illness Benefit and Invalidity Pension are both social insurance payments based on your PRSI contributions.

Partial Capacity Benefit

This is a scheme which allows you to return to work (if you have reduced capacity tonwork) and continue to receive a payment from the Department of Social Protection. To qualify for Partial Capacity Benefit you need to be getting either Illness Benefit (for a minimum of 6 months) or Invalidity Pension.

Disability Allowance

This is a long-term social assistance payment for those aged 16-65 with a disability expected to last at least one year.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

If you are sick and do not qualify for any payment you may be eligible for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. Generally, social welfare payments are made up of a personal payment for yourself and extra amounts for your dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and your dependent children.

Other payments

If you are getting a social welfare payment you may qualify for additional financial support because of your illness or disability, for example, under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme you can apply for a Heating Supplement, if you have exceptional heating expenses due to ill-health or infirmity.

You may also be eligible for:
• The Long Term Illness Scheme;
• The Drug Payment Scheme
• A Medical Card; or
• a GP Visit Card.

Apply to your Local Health Office in the Health Service Executive.

Driving and home benefits

There are concessions for disabled drivers and passengers and local authority grants to adapt your home.

Tax benefits

There are also tax benefits available to people that are sick or have a disability.

Carer’s payment

If someone is providing you with full-time care they may qualify for a carer’s payment.

Medical card application form

Your illness may mean you are entitled to a Medical Card. You can apply for a Medical Card
online at:

People who hold a Medical Card are entitled to a range of Health Services free of charge. To apply for a Medical Card, you can download and print an application form from this website, fill it in, and return it to the HSE Client Registration Unit, P.O. Box 11745, Dublin 11.

Call the HSE customer care team at the Client Registration office on Call Save 1890 252 919 for any other questions you have about Medical Cards. They can also post an application form to you, or help you in filling in the form or making your application.

Non-medical card holders

Everyone is entitled to hospital inpatient services in a public ward in all public hospitals. There is a €75 a night charge up to a limit of €750 in a 12-month period. Higher rates apply for semi-private or private care.

If you do not have a medical card, you may have to pay some in-patient and out-patient hospital charges. You may be entitled to some community care and personal social services.

Mortgages, loans, pensions and insurance

Mortgages and loans

You may be experiencing short-term payment difficulties with your mortgage, due to your illness, and you may be worried about losing your home. Talk to your lender. If you can’t –talk to MABS, the state money advice service. MABS now has a dedicated confidential, free, and independent mortgage arrears service. It is a state-funded service for mortgage debt advice and referral.

You can call MABS on 0761 07 2000 for independent information, advice and referral.
If you are unable to make payments on other loans you can contact MABS for help on this too. It is the same phone number 0761 07 2000.

You can also send an email to [email protected] if you have any queries.

MABS does not offer financial advice on investments or on specific financial products. Remember that MABS also does not give out money.



You may be worried about taking a break from paying into a private or occupational pension scheme. For information about your scheme, contact:
• The trustees in an occupational (workplace) pension scheme; and
• The provider in a private scheme.

They will tell you if the scheme allows you to take a break and how this may affect your final pension payout.

The Department of Social Protection can tell you how a break in employment may, or may not, affect your final state pension. See more information on their website at:

Health insurance

If you have cancer and you have private health insurance, check with your provider what cover you have for inpatient and outpatient services before you attend hospital.

Taking out health insurance

If you take out health insurance when you are ill, the health insurance company may not cover you for existing or previous illnesses for some years. The amount of time you have to wait before you are covered for pre-existing conditions varies from company to company.


Travel insurance

It can be very hard for people who have cancer to get travel insurance. This can apply if you have had cancer in the past or if you are receiving treatment at present.

Before you look for insurance, ask your doctor for a letter to say you are fit to travel. Before you book your tickets, check the cost of travel insurance as it may be so expensive that you cannot afford the trip.

When asked, you must give the travel insurance company all the information they need about current and past illnesses. They will use this information to decide how much of a risk you are, and how much they will charge. They may refer you to a special phone line that will ask you questions to medically screen you.

If you fail to give the insurance company all the relevant information, and you later make a claim, the insurance company may say the policy is invalid and refuse to pay out on it.


The Marie Keating Foundation Comfort Fund

The Marie Keating Foundation has a Comfort Fund for people going through treatment for any type of cancer who need financial assistance as a result. You can find more information on our Cancer Services page. Please note that all applications for the Comfort Fund must be received from a member of your medical team. Applications are not accepted from members of the public.