Carer's Allowance is a benefit for people who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a severely disabled person. You do not have to live with or be related to that person. It is not means-tested and does not depend on National Insurance contributions. It is taxable.
How do I qualify?
To qualify, the person you care for must receive the care component of the Disability Living Allowance at the middle or higher rate, the daily living component of the Personal Independence Payment, or Attendance Allowance. You must also:
- be aged 16 or above
- not be in full-time education
- earn no more than £116 per week, (after tax, National Insurance and pension deductions).
How much could I get?
Carer’s Allowance is £62.70 per week. Allowances for a dependant spouse or partner were abolished on 6 April 2010. Allowances for dependant children were abolished on 6 April 2003. If you claimed and were entitled to these allowances before they were abolished, you will continue to be paid them.
Working out if you are over the £116 limit
Only your earnings count, not those of your partner. Only earnings from work are relevant, not other income such as pension payments or interest from savings.
Half of any contribution that you make towards an occupational pension scheme can be ignored.
If you pay someone other than a close relative to look after the person you care for, or to look after a child under 16, the amount you pay can be offset against your net earned income up to a maximum of half your net earnings. For instance:
- if you earn £140 net per week, but pay someone else £60 per week to look after the adult or child for some of the time, this would bring your net earnings down to £80, making you eligible to claim Carer's Allowance
- if you earn £232 net per week but pay someone £116 per week to look after a person with a disability, only half your net earnings, £116, can be offset - this would leave you with exactly £116 per week, just within the limit for claiming Carers Allowance
- if you earn £250 net a week and pay someone £140 per week to look after a person with a disability, only half your earnings, £125, can be offset - this leaves you with £125 a week, which is over the limit for claiming Carer's Allowance.
Break in care
It is possible to have breaks in care of up to 4 weeks (or in some cases 12 weeks) in any 26-week period, and still be paid Carer's Allowance. Up to four of those weeks can be for temporary breaks in care, for example respite care.
How to claim
Claims for Carer’s Allowance are made on form DS700.
In England, Wales and Scotland you can apply online. You can also download a claim form or request one by calling the Carers Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321.
In Northern Ireland you can download a paper claim form or call the Disability and Carers Service on 0300 123 3356.
The form includes a statement to be signed by the cared-for person, asking them if the carer provides them with 35 hours care a week. If the person you care for is under 16 or is unable to sign, someone acting on their behalf can do so.
The claim can be backdated for up to three months, provided you meet all the qualifying conditions during that period. If you claim Carer's Allowance within three months of the person being awarded Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), your allowance can be backdated to the day that DLA or PIP was first made payable.
The effect on and of other benefits
Claiming Carer’s Allowance may affect any other benefits you may be receiving. You cannot be paid it if you are receiving the same amount or more from any of the following benefits: State Pension, Maternity Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Unemployability Supplement, Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Bereavement Allowance or Widow’s Pension, Widowed Parent's Allowance or Widowed Mother's Allowance, Severe Disability Allowance or any state training allowance. This is because of the overlapping benefits rule.
People paid Carer’s Allowance also get a Carer’s Premium of £34.60 per week included in their applicable amount for Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, and Housing Benefit. You still get this premium if you claimed Carer’s Allowance and would have been paid it, had it not been for the fact that you also have other overlapping benefits.
If you qualify for Carers Allowance, or would qualify but for the fact that your earnings are too high, you can be classified as a carer for the purposes of claiming Universal Credit. Universal Credit is the new benefit that will gradually replace all working age means tested benefits from October 2013 to 2017.
Your entitlement to Carer's Allowance may mean that you are then entitled to Income Support as well if your income and savings are low enough. If you claim Income Support at the same time as Carer's Allowance, this benefit can be backdated.
Working Tax Credit
If you are a couple and you are responsible for a child or young person in education you may be eligible for Working Tax Credit provided that one of you works at least 16 hours a week, and the other is entitled to Carer’s Allowance. This applies even if you are not actually paid Carer's Allowance because you have been awarded other benefits instead (couples who are not eligible for Carer’s Allowance have to work a minimum of 24 hours a week between them).
The person who is working has to inform the Tax Credit Office that their partner is receiving Carer’s Allowance, or is entitled to receive it. This is because the Tax Credit Office does not know who is receiving Carer’s Allowance, and, unless you tell them, they will expect you to work up to 24 hours a week between you before considering you for Working Tax Credit.
Carer’s Credit was introduced from 6 April 2010. It is a National Insurance credit which helps carers build up qualifying years for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension. It replaces Home Responsibilities Protection. It is not a benefit payment, but a way of helping you build up your National Insurance qualifications that will affect your own entitlement to benefits and a state pension in the future.
If you are getting Carer’s Allowance, your National Insurance contributions will automatically be credited to you. If you are receiving Child Benefit for a child under 12 years old, or you are getting Income support and are a full time carer, the Carer’s Credit will automatically be credited to you. If you are already getting Home Responsibilities protection, your years of protection will be converted to credits.
Carer’s Credit can be given to you even if you do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance.
To qualify for Carer’s Credit you must care for one or more people with disabilities for a total of 20 hours or more per week. Each person you care for must
- either be getting the Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate, or the daily living component of the Personal Independence Payment, or Attendance Allowance at any rate, or Constant Attendance Allowance at any rate
- or have got a care certificate signed by a health or social care professional to confirm they need the level of care being provided.
In England, Wales and Scotland you can download a claim pack or ask for one by calling the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321. In Northern Ireland you can download a pack or contact the Disability and Carers Service on 0300 123 3356. The pack includes a blank care certificate along with detailed notes about who is eligible and what you need to do.
Effect on the benefits of the person you care for
Your claim for Carer’s Allowance may affect the amount of benefit the person you care for receives. If they get Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit with the extra severe disability premium element, they will lose the severe disability premium if you are given Carer’s Allowance. Often you can claim Carer’s Allowance without having any effect on their benefits, but you need to check first. Take advice in this situation so that you do not make the person you care for worse off.
Working Tax Credit - eligibility, gov.uk
England, Scotland and Wales
Carers Allowance Unit
Carer's Allowance, gov.uk
Carer's Credit, gov.uk
Disability and Carers Service
Carer's Allowance, nidirect
Carer's Credit, nidirect
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This information was last updated in April 2017.