Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who regularly care for someone. To get Carer's Allowance, you have to spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with substantial care needs. And the person that you care for has to be getting certain benefits.
It’s not means tested, so it’s not affected by the amount of savings you have. It doesn’t depend on National Insurance (NI) contributions either. It’s taxable and counts as income for tax credits and other means tested benefits.
The amount is currently £62.70 a week.
For you to qualify, the person you care for must be claiming one or more of these benefits:
- Middle or highest rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component
- Attendance Allowance (AA)
- Consultant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Consultamt Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
- Armed Forces Independence Payment.
You'll also need to meet these conditions as their carer:
- If you work, you can't earn more than £116 a week – see below
- You must be aged 16 or over
- You must not be in full-time education (21 hours a week or more)
- You must not be subject to immigration control and must pass the UK residence presence tests.
You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person. You can get Carer’s Allowance even if you’ve never worked or if you’re disabled yourself and need care.
Severe disability premium
If the person you look after gets the severe disability premium included in their means tested benefit, this may stop if you claim Carer’s Allowance. The rules for severe disability premium are complex so it's best to speak to a benefits adviser for more information.
Things to watch out for
If you’re looking after someone you live with, the rule about caring for 35 hours a week is usually easy to meet and straightforward. But there are some things to keep in mind:
- If someone else gets Carer’s Allowance to look after the same person you look after, you cannot get it as well. You and the other carer need to decide who should claim
- If you’re caring for more than one person, you can’t add together the time you spend caring for each of them. You have to show that for at least 35 hours each week you’re caring for one person
- If you’re also entitled to the basic State Pension, you might not be able to get the full amount for both your Carer’s Allowance and your State Pension. But you might be able to get some extra money
- There are more rules about how you can sometimes get Carer’s Allowance during time off from caring or breaks in care. See below.
You cannot get Carer’s Allowance if your net earnings are more than £110 a week. This is the earnings limit and it usually goes up every October. Your partner’s earnings don’t affect your basic benefit. But your earnings or theirs may reduce any means tested benefit you also receive.
In working out how much of your earnings (or net profit if you’re self-employed) are taken into account, the main deductions to be made from gross earnings are:
- income tax
- National Insurance contributions
- half of any contribution you make to an occupational or personal pension.
If earnings paid in one week are over the limit, Carer’s Allowance is normally lost for the following week except if your earnings vary. If this is the case, ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Department of Communities (DoC) in Northern Ireland to average them out so you stay under the limit.
You can make a claim using form DS700, or DS700 (SP) if you get State Pension. The claim form has to be signed by the person you’re looking after. If they are unable to sign because of their illness or disability, someone else can sign the form on their behalf. This could be:
- a parent or guardian
- the person's attorney
- an appointee (a friend, relative or representative who is authorised by the DWP or SSA to deal with someone else's benefits)
- a judicial factor (someone appointed to manage or administer property)
- a deputy (usually a close relative or friend of the person who needs help making decisions - they are appointed by the court)
- a curator bonis (a legal representative appointed by the court to manage someone else’s affairs)
Claiming in England, Wales and Scotland
Claiming in Northern Ireland
Contact the Disability and Carers Service (0300 123 3356; textphone 028 9031 1092) to get the claim form. You can also download the claim forms from nidirect.
If you were entitled to Carer’s Allowance before the date you claimed it, you can ask for it to be backdated for up to three months. If you’ve been waiting for the person you’re caring for to be awarded a qualifying benefit and you claim Carer’s Allowance within three months of the date that they’re awarded this benefit, then your claim can be backdated to the date when the benefit began.
If entitlement to Carer’s Allowance means you can start getting a benefit such as Income Support because of the award of Carer Premium, you should claim the benefit at the same time that you claim Carer’s Allowance. This will ensure it’s also backdated.
The assessment process
The assessment process is very straightforward as there are only a few rules you need to meet. Once you claim Carer’s Allowance you may be offered the option of attending a voluntary work-focussed interview to discuss work options. You don't have to go to this interview if you don't want to.
Once you qualify, you’ll be sent a written decision about your claim.
You must report any changes in your caring role in writing to the Carer’s Allowance Unit as soon as possible to avoid having to repay overpaid benefit. This includes changes in the way you provide the 35 hours a week of care, or taking time off from caring. See our information about time off from t time off from caring and breaks in care below.
If your claim is rejected
If you're refused Carer’s Allowance, or you disagree with the DWP or DoC’s written decision, you have a month to ask for it to be reconsidered. If you’re not happy with the outcome, you have another month to appeal.
If you qualify but can’t be paid Carer’s Allowance
This can sometimes happen with the overlapping benefits rule. It says that you cannot be paid Carer’s Allowance while you’re getting the same amount or more from certain other benefits, including:
- State Pension
- Maternity Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Contribution-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Widows’ Benefits
- Bereavement benefits.
So, if for example you get State Pension that is more than what your Carer’s Allowance is worth, you only get the State Pension. If you get State Pension that is less than what your Carer’s Allowance is worth, you get the State Pension and a top-up of Carer’s Allowance to the amount you’d get from it alone.
However, it may still be worth claiming Carer’s Allowance even if you can’t get paid it. This is because you may still be able to get Carer Premium with other means tested benefits.
Ask a benefits adviser if you're unsure about the effect of you claiming Carer's Allowance.
If you receive Carer’s Allowance or have an underlying entitlement to it, you may be entitled to an additional payment called Carer Premium.
Carer Premium can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to speak to a benefits adviser for more information.
Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
Carer’s Allowance and Income Support
You may be entitled to both Carer’s Allowance and Income Support. Income Support is means tested, so it varies according to how much or how little money you have coming in. It’s reduced by the amount of Carer’s Allowance you get. The advantage of claiming Carer’s Allowance in this situation is that you may be able to get a carer premium to increase your Income Support.
Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit
Universal Credit is starting to replace means-tested benefits for people of working age. If you claim Universal Credit, your award will be reduced by the amount of Carer’s Allowance you get. However, you’ll receive an extra amount, known as a carer element in your Universal Credit in the same way as you may be able to get a Carer Premium with other means-tested benefits.
Carer’s Allowance and Carer Credits
If you’re entitled to Carer’s Allowance (even if it can’t be paid because of other benefits) you might also get National Insurance credits.
Sometimes Carer’s Allowance can be paid during breaks in care. The maximum for this is four weeks in any 26-week period (or twelve weeks in any 26-week period if you, or the person you look after, go into hospital).
If the person you look after goes into hospital, the 12-weeks-off rule still applies, but in reality the benefit may stop sooner. Your Carer’s Allowance depends on the person you care for getting a qualifying benefit (see above). If they go into hospital, payment of the qualifying benefit normally stops after 28 days. So, your Carer’s Allowance will stop when their qualifying benefit stops.
A week off is a week in which you care for the person for less than 35 hours, so odd days or weekends away are unlikely to affect your Carer’s Allowance entitlement.
Breaks in care and how they affect new carers
These rules may affect you if you’ve just started caring for someone. To get paid Carer’s Allowance for breaks in care, new carers must have done at least 22 weeks of caring (for at least 35 hours a week for a disabled person on a qualifying benefit – see above).
Carer’s Allowance after someone dies
Your Carer’s Allowance can continue for up to eight weeks after the person you look after dies. You must continue to satisfy all the rules (apart from the one about caring for someone – see above).
Telephone: 0345 608 4321
Textphone: 0345 604 5312
Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm
Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm
Carers Allowance Unit
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