Finding other income

If you’re having difficulty paying your debts, you may want to consider ways to supplement your income.

Learn more about:

Listen to our podcast on Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis

Centrelink benefits

There are a number of Centrelink payments that may be available to people with cancer and their carers, including:

  • Sickness Allowance
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Carer Payment and Carer Allowance
  • Bereavement Payment and Bereavement

You may also be eligible for the Pensioner Concession Card or the Health Care Card, which can reduce your expenses.

For more information about Centrelink payments, visit

No interest loans

No Interest Loan Schemes (NILS) are for people on a low income who are unable to qualify for other affordable finance and who need a household item to improve their health or wellbeing. The loan is typically between $300 and $1200, and might be used for whitegoods, furniture, medical appliances or other essential items. Generally you must be able to repay the loan over 12–18 months.

NILS loans are provided by a number of charitable organisations. 

To find NILS providers, visit Good Shepherd Microfinance at, or call 13 NILS (13 64 57).

Insurance claims

It’s important to make insurance claims as soon as possible because there may be time limits that apply to making a claim. Consider all of your insurance policies, including:

  • income protection insurance
  • private health insurance
  • travel insurance
  • trauma insurance
  • consumer credit insurance
  • total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance
  • mortgage insurance
  • life insurance.

If you are not sure whether you are covered, contact the insurer. If you think you should be covered but your claim is denied, you can get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to see whether we can connect you with a lawyer for assistance.

Insurance attached to superannuation

People often don’t realise that they may have insurance attached to their superannuation. Many industry superannuation funds, as well as some retail funds, offer insurance by default. In many cases, you will be covered as long as you did not choose to ‘opt out’.

Common types of insurance provided through superannuation funds include:

  • income protection insurance – usually paid as an income stream
  • total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance – usually paid as a lump sum
  • life insurance (may be called death cover) – usually paid as a lump sum, but you may need to be aware of time frames (see next section).

To find out whether you are covered and whether your situation entitles you to make a claim, check your statements and contact your superannuation fund.


In Australia, you usually need to be at least 55 years old and retired before you are allowed to access your superannuation (super). However, you can apply to access some or all of your super early in particular circumstances, such as if you need to pay for medical treatment or are facing severe financial hardship. How you can do this will vary according to your age.

Aged 65 or over, or aged 55–64 and permanently retired – You can access your super as a lump sum or as an income stream.

Aged 55–64 and still working – You can access your super as  an income stream to top up your salary, but you cannot access it as a lump sum. You can receive a maximum of 10% of your super account balance each year.

Aged under 55 – You can access your super early only in certain circumstances, including:

  • if you need the money to pay for medical treatment, or transport to and from medical treatment for yourself or a dependant
  • if you need the money for home loan repayments to prevent the bank selling your house to pay off the debt (foreclosure)
  • if you have to make home modifications for your disability
  • if you need to pay palliative care, funeral, burial or cremation costs
  • if you have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of two years or less
  • if you are unable to ever return to work
  • if you have been receiving a Centrelink payment for 26 weeks continuously and you cannot pay your living expenses.

To access super early, you will need to apply to the Department of Human Services or directly to your super fund, depending on why you are applying. There are also tax issues to consider. To find out more, download Cancer Council’s Superannuation and cancer fact sheet, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

Super, insurance and terminal illness

Many people have various types of insurance automatically attached to their super accounts (see above section). The premiums for this insurance are often deducted directly from the super’s lump sum (preserved amount). If you withdraw all your super, you will no longer be up to date with the insurance premiums, so your insurance cover may be cancelled.

People accessing super early because of a terminal illness might also be able to claim on their super’s life insurance. However, this insurance may use a different time frame to the super.

The law allows people to withdraw all their super if life expectancy is two years or less. Many life insurance policies allow payouts only when life expectancy is one year or less. If someone has already withdrawn all their super, they may no longer be covered by the life insurance and might not be able to make a claim.

Before you decide to access your super early, make sure you have investigated the impact on your insurance entitlements. You may be able to leave some of your super in the fund so the insurance premiums continue to be paid. If you are in any doubt, talk to your insurer or to a financial planner.

Property and other assets

You may be able to sell an asset, such as a house, car or investments, to give you more cash to meet expenses or repay debts. It’s a good idea to speak to a financial planner about which assets to try to keep and which to sell or convert into cash. If you are considering selling an asset, such as property or shares, or cashing in superannuation or other similar policies, make sure you get advice that explains tax issues and maximises your return.

If a lender has a court order allowing them to sell your property to recover a debt, ask them in writing to postpone enforcement of the order so that you can sell your asset privately. You will probably get a better price if you arrange the sale yourself or through an agent.

Compensation for work-related cancer

Workers’ compensation provides protection to workers and  their employers in the event of a work-related injury or illness.

In Australia, about 5000 people are diagnosed with work-related cancers each year, which is about 6.5% of all new cancers diagnosed.

Work-related cancers can result from exposure to:

  • sunlight (e.g. labourers, wharf workers, postal service workers)
  • toxic dusts and chemicals, including asbestos, diesel exhaust, heavy metals, solvents and pesticides (e.g. construction workers, painters, armed services personnel, forestry workers)
  • ionising radiation (e.g. miners, nuclear energy workers).

If you think your work has substantially contributed to your cancer diagnosis, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. This could include weekly payments, a lump sum and/or payment of medical bills. If a person dies because of a work-related cancer, their dependants may be able to claim a lump sum amount.

To make a claim, notify your state or territory workers’ compensation authority about your cancer and why you think it is work-related. A time limit may apply for making a claim.

For more information, download Cancer Council’s Compensation and work-related cancers fact sheet or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

Planning for the future

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may wish to consider your wishes for future care.  This is called advance care planning, and it can be started at any stage, whether you are healthy or ill.  

Advance care planning mainly relates to your future medical care. but it can also involve appointing a trusted person to make financial and legal decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself at some point in the future. The documents for appointing this substitute decision-maker may be called a power of attorney, enduring power of attorney or advance care directive.

For more information, download Cancer Council’s Getting your affairs in order fact sheet, call Cancer Council 13 11 20, talk to a social worker, or visit

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Cancer and Your Finances.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit:

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in October 2015
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono legal and financial matters, no interest loans or help with small business

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Work and cancer
Information for employees, employers and workplaces dealing with cancer

Cancer information

Your coping toolbox
Different ways to cope with a cancer, treatment and stress

Workplace fact sheets
Fact sheets to help employers provide a supportive and fair work environment for people affected by cancer

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends