Can I get help with my travel costs?

Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey.

Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey.

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Q. I have just received a letter advising me that I need to go to hospital for tests, can I get help with travel costs as I am not working at the minute?

A. You may be able to get financial help from the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme to help with travel costs to the hospital for these tests.

You can claim help through the Scheme if you, or those you depend on, get at least one of the following:

Income Support

Jobseeker’s Allowance (Income Based)

Employment and Support Allowance (Income-related)

Guarantee Pension Credit

If the gross household income is £15,276 or less as calculated by HMRC for tax credits purposes you may also qualify for the Hospital travel costs scheme if you get one of the following:

Child Tax Credit (with or without Working Tax Credit)

Working Tax Credit with the disability element or severe disability element

If you’re on a low income but don’t get any of these benefits or allowances, you may still claim travel costs through the Health Service low income support scheme.

To apply though the low income support scheme you need to complete an HC1 form which is available from your local Jobs and Benefits Office.

How much do you get?

If you’re on a relevant benefit(s) or allowances you get back the full travel costs by using the cheapest form of public transport available, including any concessions or promotions. This applies to however you travel, even if you use your own car.

The hospital should tell you the mileage rate for petrol costs for private transport.

However If public transport is unavailable or impractical (perhaps you can’t get to your appointment on time or your mobility is restricted), you’ll need to contact the hospital well ahead of your appointment. They will need to check your new travel arrangements are allowed.

If you’re on the Health Service Low Income scheme you may get back all or some of your travel costs depending on which certificate you’ve been given. If an adult or a dependent child has to travel to your treatment with you for medical reasons, you can claim their travel costs too.

How to claim

You can claim at the hospital or clinic at the time of your appointment. You’ll be paid back immediately in cash, when you show any of the following:

proof of a qualifying benefit (like an award notice)

a tax credit exemption certificate (you’ll get this automatically if you qualify)

a certificate showing you qualify for the Health Service Low Income Support scheme

Backdated claims

You can claim help with travel costs up to three months after your appointment, if you can prove you were eligible to claim at the time.

To do this, you’ll need to fill in a refund claim form (HC5), which you can get from the hospital or your local Jobs and Benefits Office.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland