According to Carers UK; 6.5 million people in the UK care for an older or disabled loved one. Are you spending many hours caring for someone but missing out on a benefit that could make a big difference to your weekly income? Carer’s allowance is a little publicised and widely under-claimed benefit, and many more could be claiming it.
What is carer’s allowance?
Carer’s allowance is a benefit you might be able to claim if you care for someone who is sick or disabled.
How much is carer’s allowance?
Carer’s allowance is (from April 2014) paid at the rate of £61.35 per week.
Who can claim carer’s allowance?
In order to qualify for carer’s allowance the disabled person must fit certain rules and so must the carer:
The disabled person must be in receipt of
a) either rate of the daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP) or
b) either rate of Attendance Allowance (AA) or
c) the middle or higher rate of the care component of disability living allowance (DLA)
You, as the carer, must
Be aged over 16
Not be in full time education
Have lived in the UK for 2 out of the last 3 years with no restriction on claiming benefits
Be caring for a disabled person for at least 35 hours each week
According to the .gov.uk website, you need to “earn less than £102 a week (after taxes, care costs while you’re at work and 50% of what you pay into your pension)”
You do not need to live with the disabled person or be a member of their family.
What if I care for more than one disabled person?
If you care for more than one disabled person you will only be entitled to one payment of carer’s allowance. You cannot add the hours up if you look after more than one disabled person to claim you care for 35 hours per week.
Is carer’s allowance means-tested?
It doesn’t matter whether you, as the carer, have savings or other income (except if you earn more than £102 per week from working). Carer’s allowance is taxable.
Can I claim if I am getting DLA, PIP or AA myself?
There is nothing to prevent you from claiming carer’s allowance if you are sick or disabled yourself if you meet the conditions. However, we would suggest you seek advice as if you are providing 35 hours of care as your own benefits may be reassessed depending on the condition you are claiming for and what you have said you can and cannot do yourself.The care you provide can be supervision as well as assistance, so it may be perfectly possible to be a carer alongside having your own health difficulties.
How can I claim carer’s allowance?
You can apply for carer’s allowance by telephoning the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 6084321 or by downloading a form from https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance
where you will also find more information on carer’s allowance.
The contact details for the Carer’s Allowance Unit can be found here:
What if I already get another benefit myself?
If you are a carer who qualifies for carer’s allowance, you may not be paid the allowance if you are receiving certain other benefits.
Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
Bereavement or widow’s benefits
Severe Disablement Allowance
Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
State Retirement Pension
If you are one of the people affected by this rule you can still make a claim for carer’s allowance. You will receive a letter telling you that you qualify for carer’s allowance but that you will not be paid any money because of the other benefits that you are already getting.
Even though you won’t get this extra money it can be worthwhile claiming as it may increase payments of some means-tested benefits. This is called having an ‘underlying entitlement’ to carer’s allowance.
How does it affect my other benefits?
Firstly, carer’s allowance does count as income for means-tested benefits, so you must let all the departments who pay you benefits or tax credits know about it.
However, it can still be worth claiming it, if you also qualify for means-tested benefits such as; Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance the calculation of these benefits can include an extra amount (a premium) because you are a carer who is eligible for carer’s allowance. This extra amount will be included in your means-tested benefits whether you receive carer’s allowance or have an underlying entitlement to carer’s allowance.
You will need to notify the Department for Work and Pensions and the local authority when you have been awarded carer’s allowance or have an underlying entitlement to it. You will need to provide your award letter as evidence.
What if I don’t already get a means tested benefit?
If you are not already receiving Income Support, Housing Benefit, Pension Credit or Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance but your income is still very low you may qualify for one or more of these benefits now that you have been awarded carer’s allowance or if have an underlying entitlement.
Will carer’s allowance affect the disabled person’s benefits?
In most cases carer’s allowance will not affect the benefits of the disabled person.
If the disabled person is receiving extra means-tested benefit because they get the ‘severe disability premium’ described above, then they will lose this premium if their carer is paid carer’s allowance.
You should make sure you get advice before claiming carer’s allowance in this situation. See our Benefits Help guide.
The disabled person will not lose the severe disability premium if you are not paid carer’s allowance but only have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to carer’s allowance – described above.
Is there any other advantage to claiming carer’s allowance?
If you qualify for carer’s allowance, you will also receive automatic National Insurance Credits which can help you to have a good record of contributions when you claim your State Retirement Pension.
Also, if you are entitled to carer’s allowance, you are also able to claim Income Support. This may be a better option for you, especially if you have a disability/long-term health condition yourself, as the disability premium can be paid with Income support but it cannot be part of your Employment and Support Allowance payment. You may need a better-off calculation from an Advice Agency or Welfare Rights Adviser to help you make a decision.