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Carer’s Allowance

What is Carer's Allowance?

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who regularly spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone. The person you’re caring for has to have substantial needs – this usually means that they wouldn’t be able to manage everyday tasks without your help. 

Carer’s Allowance is £62.70 a week.

Who qualifies for Carer's Allowance?

To get Carer's Allowance, the person you care for must be claiming one or more of these benefits:

You'll also need to meet these conditions as their carer:

  • You can't earn more than £116 a week after tax and deductions. How do my earnings affect Carer’s Allowance?
  • You must be aged 16 or over
  • You must not be in full-time education (21 hours a week or more)
  • You must have lived in the country for two out of the last three years
  • You must not be subject to immigration control.

Citizens Advice   has information about who is subject to immigration control.

You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person you’re caring for. You can get Carer’s Allowance even if you’ve never worked or if you’re disabled yourself and need care.

It’s not affected by the amount of savings you have. Carer’s Allowance also doesn’t depend on your National Insurance contributions.

It’s taxable, and it counts as income if you’re applying for tax credits or other benefits that are based on how much income you have (means-tested benefits). 

What should I be aware of?

If someone else gets Carer’s Allowance to look after the same person you care for, you can't also get it. 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 must care for one person for at least 35 hours each week.

Severe disability premium

If the person you care for gets the severe disability premium included in a means-tested benefit (such as income-related Employment and Support Allowance), this may stop if you claim Carer’s Allowance. The rules for the severe disability premium are complicated, so it’s best to get benefits advice   for more information about this. 

How do my earnings affect Carer’s Allowance?

You cannot get Carer’s Allowance if you earn more than £116 a week after these things are taken away:

  • Income tax
  • National Insurance contributions
  • half of any contribution you make to an occupational or personal pension.

This is the earnings limit and it usually goes up every October. If you have a partner who works, their earnings don’t affect your basic benefit. But your earnings or theirs may reduce any means-tested benefit (such as Income Support) you also receive.

If your earnings in one week are over the limit, you wouldn’t normally get Carer’s Allowance for that week. If your earnings vary but are under £116 a week on average, ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or Department for Communities (DfC) in Northern Ireland, to average out your earnings so you stay under the limit.

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How do I claim Carer’s Allowance?

You can claim using a form called a DS700, or DS700 (SP) if you get State Pension.

You can claim online at:

  • GOV.UK  if you live in England, Wales, or Scotland
  • Nidirect
     if you live in Northern Ireland.

You can also call the Carer’s Allowance Unit  on 0345 608 4321 (textphone 0345 604 5312) if you live in England, Wales, or Scotland. Or the Disability and Carers Service on 0300 123 3356 (textphone 028 9031 1092) if you live in Northern Ireland.

The claim form has to be signed by the person you’re caring for. 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 solicitor (lawyer)
  • an appointee (a friend, relative or representative who is authorised 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).

Backdating

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 getting Carer's Allowance means you can get a means-tested benefit because you qualify for carer premium, you should claim the benefit when you claim Carer’s Allowance. This will mean that the means-tested benefit is also backdated.

The assessment process

The assessment process is 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. 

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What happens if I qualify?

If you qualify, you’ll be sent a written decision about your claim. You can choose for your Carer’s Allowance to be paid weekly in advance, or four-weekly in arrears. The money goes directly into your bank or building society account.

What happens if my claim is rejected?

If you're refused Carer’s Allowance, 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. 

Overlapping benefits rule

The overlapping benefits rule says that you cannot be paid Carer’s Allowance while you’re getting £62.70 a week or more from certain other benefits, including:

  • State Pension
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Widows’ Benefits
  • Bereavement Support Payment.

For example, if your state pension is more than £62.70 a week, you won’t get any extra money from Carer’s Allowance. If your state pension is less than £62.70 a week, you’ll get your state pension and an amount of Carer’s Allowance so that your state pension and Carer’s Allowance together add up to £62.70 a week. 

It may still be worth making a claim for Carer’s Allowance even if it doesn't actually get paid. This is because you may still be able to get the carer premium as well as other means tested benefits.

Ask a benefits adviser if you're unsure about the effect of claiming Carer's Allowance. 

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What happens to my other benefits?

Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment

You can get Carer’s Allowance at the same time as 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 depends on your other income or savings. 

You will get less Income Support if you’re receiving Carer’s Allowance. 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 gradually replacing means-tested benefits (such as Income Support) for people of working age. You will get less Universal Credit if you’re receiving Carer’s Allowance. However, you’ll receive an extra amount, known as a carer amount.

Carer’s Allowance and Carer's 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 through carer's credits. These help protect your entitlement to State Pension.

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Will I still get Carer's Allowance if I have time off from caring?

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 go into hospital.

Officials count 'a week off' as a week when you spend less than 35 hours caring for the person. So if you take odd days or weekends away, these are unlikely to affect your Carer’s Allowance. 

If the person you’re caring for is in hospital

If the person you care for goes into hospital, your Carer’s Allowance will stop when their qualifying benefit stops. Their qualifying benefit is the benefit they get that means you qualify for carer’s allowance. Their qualifying benefit  usually stops after 28 days. 

If someone you’re caring for goes into hospital, you need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or Department for Communities (DfC) in Northern Ireland. If you don’t let them know and you are overpaid, you will have to pay back the money. 

Time off as a new carer

To get paid Carer’s Allowance for breaks in care, carers must have been caring for at least 22 weeks. During this time, you must have been caring for at least 35 hours a week and the person must receive a qualifying benefit. Who qualifies for Carer’s Allowance?

When someone dies

Your Carer’s Allowance can continue for up to eight weeks after the person you care for dies. You must continue to meet the criteria for Carer's Allowance, apart from the one about caring for someone.

What should I do if my circumstances change? 

If there is a change in your circumstances or you gave incorrect information by mistake, you need to report it. This includes taking time off from caring for a respite break or if the person goes into hospital.  If you are overpaid a benefit, you will have to pay it back.

You can report a change in circumstances online at GOV.UK   or by contacting the Carer's Allowance Unit  by phone or post. If you live in Northern Ireland, you can report changes online at nidirect  or contact the Disability and Carers Service. 

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