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Benefits for Carers - A short guide to Carer's Allowance

It is paid regardless of the carer's national insurance contribution record or their income or capital. However, if a carer is working, their net earnings must not exceed £110 per week (certain child care costs can be disregarded).

Carer's Allowance is a weekly benefit (paid from Sunday to Saturday) - so the care provided can be spread out over the whole of the week or provided over a couple of days. The word 'care' has not been defined and doesn't necessarily mean that someone has to be providing active care - sitting with someone, keeping them company or being there watching over them can all be included.

Information on this page will help answer many of the Frequently Asked Questions regarding Carer's Allowance.

Information is also available on the Gov.uk website.Opens new window

What are the conditions?

You must:

  • be aged over 16
  • care, for 35 hours a week or more, for a person who is receiving Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance or DLA Care (Middle or Higher Rate) or the Daily Living component of PIP (standard or enhanced rate)
  • not be in full time education 
  • have net earnings (less appropriate disregards) of less than £110.00 per week from paid employment.   

Only one claim for Carer's Allowance can be made even if you are caring for more than one disabled person and only one person can claim Carer's Allowance for caring for a disabled person, regardless of the number of carers required.

Carer's Allowance is what is known as an 'overlapping' benefit.  This means that if you are in receipt of another contributory benefit, Carer's Allowance cannot usually be paid, but claimants have what is known as an "underlying entitlement" which increases (or can bring someone into) entitlement to means tested benefits.  See Carer's Allowance and other benefits below. 

Benefits of Carer's Allowance

Carer's Allowance is paid at £62.10 (2015/16 rates). However other benefits include:

  • National Insurance credits - Carer's Allowance provide Class 1 National Insurance credits, which can help towards entitlement to contributory / bereavement benefits.
  • A possible increased entitlement to other benefits - Receipt of Carer's Allowance, or an underlying entitlement to it, triggers the Carer's Premium when calculating your entitlement to means tested benefits:  Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.
  • Signing-on - If you are a carer for a disabled person who is in receipt of the appropriate rate of disability benefit, or has applied for a disability benefit and awaiting a decision (up to 26 weeks or until a decision has been made), whether you are in receipt of Carer's Allowance or not, you do not need to sign on as available for work to get benefit; you may qualify for Income Support instead.
  • For families with children who claim Working Tax Credit, an award of  Carer's Allowance reduces the hours of work rule to16 hours instead of 24 (as it is deemed that the carer is working).

Carer's Allowance and earnings

You cannot get Carer's Allowance if you earn more than £110.00 a week. Earnings are calculated as net earnings (less tax, National Insurance and half of any occupational pension contributions). Any expenses that are "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" incurred during work can also be ignored. If earnings fluctuate they are averaged out over an appropriate number of weeks.

How long is Carer's Allowance paid for?

Carer's Allowance is payable for as long as you satisfy the conditions. Entitlement can continue during temporary breaks - four weeks in every 26 week period, providing you have been caring for 35 hours a week for the past 22 weeks out of the last 26 weeks. Entitlement stops if someone's Disability Living Allowance Care/PIP/Attendance Allowance stops, after 4 weeks in hospital, residential care etc. This period rises to 12 weeks if the DLA claimant is a child under 16 in hospital.

If the person receiving care dies

You continue to be entitled to Carer's Allowance for a further eight weeks from the Sunday after the person you have been caring for dies, even though you are no longer caring, providing you continue to satisfy the other criteria for this benefit.

Carer's Allowance and other benefits

If Carer's Allowance is awarded and paid it can have a detrimental financial impact on the means tested benefits the person being cared for receives - a benefit check should always be undertaken prior to making a claim.

Carer's Allowance is an 'overlapping benefit'. This means that you cannot be paid Carer's Allowance if you are getting the same amount or more from another contributory benefit (e.g. Bereavement Allowance; Widowed Parents Allowance; Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance; Contributory Jobseekers Allowance; State Retirement Pension) or statutory payment (except statutory sick pay). It is still  worth putting in a claim to establish an "underlying entitlement" to Carer's Allowance - this will then entitle you to the Carer's Premium and increase entitlement to, or could bring you into entitlement to, a means tested benefit; i.e Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Housing and Council Tax Benefit.

Carer's Allowance counts in full as income when calculating entitlement to means tested benefit.  However an award of this benefit (whether paid or underlying entitlement) triggers the 'carer's premium'.  A carer's premium is included in the calculation for means tested benefit for each qualifying carer.

You can get Carer's Allowance while claiming Disability Living Allowance (Care or Mobility), Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance for your own care and mobility needs - there is no contradiction in being a carer and being disabled.

To claim or not to claim Carer's Allowance?

Carers in receipt of means tested benefits (listed above) will gain £34.60 per week. However the person being cared for could potentially lose up to £61.85 per week in their means tested benefits. If the carer and/or the person cared for receives a means tested benefit, it is recommended that, before submitting a claim for Carer's Allowance, you seek advice to check that you or the person you are caring for would not be worse off. The Carers Centre or other agencies that support carers can help with this.

You can apply online using the Carers Allowance Digital ServiceOpens new window

Benefits of Underlying Entitlement

An underlying entitlement can increase or bring you into entitlement to means tested benefits.  An underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance will not impact on the means tested benefits of the person being cared for.   

Backdating

Carer's Allowance can be backdated for up to three months if you satisfy the qualifying conditions over this period; you do not have to show any reasons why your claim is late.

Carer's Allowance can be claimed and backdated to the date of award of Disability Living Allowance middle or higher rate care, PIP (Daily Living component) or Attendance Allowance if it is made within three months of this decision.


Carer's Credit

Carer's Credit is a National Insurance Credit which helps you build your entitlement to State Pension and bereavement benefits. You do not receive any payment, but it means that there are no gaps in your National Insurance record if you cannot work because of your caring responsibilities.

To get Carer's Credit you must be aged 16 or over, but below State Pension age. You must be looking after one or more people for at least 20 hours a week.

If the person(s) you are caring for does not get one of the benefits listed above for Carers Allowance, a health care practitioner would need to sign a statement confirming that care is required and the number of hours it is required for.

This credit is particularly helpful for those who are aged 18 plus and in higher education as they are getting credits whilst studying.

More information on Carer's Credit Gov.uk - Carers CreditOpens new window

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