What is Carer’s Allowance?

The Carer’s Allowance benefit is extra money to help you each week if you care for someone. The person you care for must be claiming certain benefits for you to be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. Usually, you will also need to spend most of your time looking after them to be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

It is not a means benefit which means that your income or savings won’t affect it. The amount also doesn’t increase if you care for more than one person. The amount you get depends on the care you give.

It may affect some of the benefits you get or the benefits of the person you care for. You may also have to pay tax on your Carer’s Allowance if the benefits you get are over the personal allowance.

This guide is for people from England, Scotland and Wales. The government have a useful guide in Welsh, if needed, through the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/lwfans-gofalwr

This benefit is different in Northern Ireland. If you are a resident there, read our section below called ‘Carer’s Allowance in Northern Ireland’.

Who can claim Carer’s Allowance?

There are certain rules about who can claim Carer’s Allowance. These rules apply to you but also to the person you care for.

You will only be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if the person you look after is getting one of these benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance. This is an amount to help the person pay for whatever extra care they need.
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They should either be getting the medium or maximum amount of DLA. If you’re not sure, you will find this information on any of their benefit letters.
  • Both the highest rate of Constant Attendance Allowance and Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit (IIDB).
  • Both the highest rate of Constant Attendance Allowance with a War Disablement Pension.

You will only be eligible if you are:

  • 16 years old or above.
  • Your income is lower than £120 after tax and expenses. Expenses can be anything like pension contributions or childcare costs.
  • You care for someone at least 35 hours per week. These hours can take place whenever you like in the week but they should add up to 35.
  • You are a resident of the United Kingdom.
  • You have lived in the United Kingdom for the past 3 years. This doesn’t apply if you’re a refugee or have special protected status in the United Kingdom.
  • You’re not a full time student. You must study for less than 21 hours a week to be eligible for Carer’s Allowance.
  • Have permanent residency in the United Kingdom.

You may still be eligible if you are from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. You should check with your local jobcentre before applying.

You may be able to get Carer’s Credit if you’re not eligible for Carer’s Allowance. For more information on Carer’s Credit, see:

https://www.gov.uk/carers-credit

How much money could I claim for Carer’s Allowance?

Carer’s Allowance for the year 2018/19 is set at £64.60 for England and Wales. This can either come to you once a week or every 4 weeks. If you choose the once a week option it will come a week in advance. For example, you would receive £64.60 on 3rd September for the week beginning 10th September.

The payment will come into whatever account you choose. This can either be a bank account, building society account or Credit Union. If you receive other benefits, it may be handier to get it in the same account.

The amount available for Scottish people is a little higher. If you live in Scotland you will be eligible for a Carer’s Allowance Supplement. This is a new amount of £8.50 a week on top of your original £64.60.

How will it affect my other benefits?

Carer’s Allowance may affect the benefits you get and the benefits of the person you look after.</p.

If you are successful in claiming Carer’s Allowance, the person you care for will stop getting:

  • Any reductions in their council tax.
  • Severe Disability Premium.
  • Any extra disability payments in their pension credit.

Getting Carer’s Allowance may affect some of the benefits you get. You can visit your local jobcentre to discuss which ones will change.

You may find that although some of your benefits decrease or stop. But you should receive the same amount of money overall or more.

The good thing is that Carer’s Allowance doesn’t count towards the benefit cap. Not heard of the benefit cap? See the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/benefit-cap

When you claim Carer’s Allowance, you won’t have to tell any of the other benefit offices. They will know already and your payments will change straight away. The only people you need to tell are those in the Tax Credits Office. This is if you claim Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. If you fail to tell them, all your benefits may go down or stop altogether.

The government have a benefits calculator which you can use to see how your payments will change:

https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

How to apply

Applying for Carer’s Allowance is very straightforward. You can either apply online using the following link:

https://www.carersallowance.service.gov.uk/allowance/benefits

Or if you can’t apply online then you can apply by post. The address is on the form. You can access and download the form using the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/carers-allowance-claim-form

You also have the option to apply by phone:

0800 731 0297

Or using the textphone number:

0800 731 0317

Lines are Mon-Thurs from 8.30am-5pm and on Fri from 8.30-4.30pm.

Calls from most landlines and mobiles are free.

Before you apply, you can get a few things ready to speed the process up. You will need to have:

  • Your National Insurance number.
  • Bank or building society details (unless you claim a state pension).
  • Details of any jobs you have or a recent P45 or P60.
  • If you’re studying, you will need some details about your course.

You will also need to provide some basic details about the person you care for. This will include:

  • Their full name, date of birth and address./li>
  • Their National Insurance number (you won’t need this if they are under 16)./li>
  • Their Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reference number if they are under 16./li>
  • You will usually be able to backdate your claim for about 3 months./li>

    Changes in circumstances

    You must report any changes in your circumstances to the government. If you don’t do this straight away, your payments could reduce or stop completely.

    You can do it online, using the Carer’s Allowance service through the following link:

    https://www.carersallowance.service.gov.uk/circumstances/report-changes/change-selection

    Examples of things you should tell the benefits office:

    • If you start a new job or leave your current one.
    • Your income goes over £120 a week, after tax and expenses.
    • You stop caring for the person.
    • You or the person you care for go on holiday.
    • You or the person you care for go into hospital.

    If the person you care for dies, you should report it using the following link:

    https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/organisations-you-need-to-contact-and-tell-us-once

    Carer’s Allowance will still continue even if you stop caring for the person. This gap in care must be temporary for the payments to continue. You will still get it for up to 12 weeks if either of you are in hospital and for up to 4 weeks if either of you go on holiday.

    Not happy with the decision?

    If the government says you aren’t eligible for Carer’s Allowance, you can challenge the decision. This is a ‘mandatory reconsideration’.

    You can do this with any of the benefits the government offer.

    You need to be careful, as the time limits for challenging the decision are quite strict. You have one month from the date of rejection to submit a challenge.

    Turn2Us has a useful guide for challenging decisions:

    https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Challenging-Department-for-Work-and-Pensions-benef/What-are-my-options

    Other types of support

    National Insurance Credits

    These are payments the government makes to help fill any spaces you have in your record. You need a certain amount of years with full NI contributions to get a state pension. See the following link to find out more:

    https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance-credits

    Support from your local council

    Each council offers different types of support to people claiming Carer’s Allowance. This support isn’t only financial, it can be a gym membership to help you look after yourself or connecting you with a carers support group. To be eligible for this support, you need to take an NHS assessment. For more information, see:

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support/carers-assessment/

    Council tax reductions

    You can get a reduction in your council tax each month if you get certain benefits. See the following link for more information:

    https://www.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction

    This does not apply if you live in Northern Ireland. If you are a resident there, you should apply for a rates reduction instead using the following link:

    https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/guide-rates/help-paying-your-rates

    Income support

    Designed to help those with a low income. To check if you’re eligible, use the following link:

    https://www.gov.uk/income-support

    Income-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

    This benefit helps people who have an illness or disability and are unable to work. Use the following link to find out more:

    https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance

    Pension credit

    Pension credit is only available to those past retirement age. To see if you’re eligible, use the following link:

    https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit

    Carer premium

    You can talk to your local jobcentre to see if you’re eligible. You may be able to claim it if you already receive certain benefits like Universal Credit.

    Carer’s Allowance in Northern Ireland

    Carer’s Allowance in Northern Ireland is different than England, Scotland and Wales.

    First of all, the amount you’ll get every week is lower at £62.70. You won’t be able to claim it if you earn more than £116 a week after taxes and expenses.

    To be eligible to claim Carer’s Allowance in Northern Ireland:

    • You must live in Northern Ireland.
    • You must have been a resident there for 2-3 years before you claim.
    • You must not be in full time education.

    You can either apply online or download and print a form, and apply through the post. You will find the application link and forms through this link:

    https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/carers-allowance-how-claim

    Useful contacts

    Carers Direct Helpline:

    0300 123 1053

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support/carers-direct-helpline/

    Lines are open Mon-Fri 9am-8pm and Sat & Sun 11am-4pm

    Applying for Carer’s Allowance by phone:

    0800 731 0297

    Lines are Mon-Thurs from 8.30am-5pm and on Fri from 8.30-4.30pm.

    Calls from most landlines and mobiles are free.

    Sources

    https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance”>https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance”>https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance

    https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/financial-support/help-with-benefits/carers-allowance

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/carers-allowance/

    https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Carer-s-Allowance/What-is-Carer-s-Allowance

    https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/introduction-carers-allowance

    https://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/carers-allowance-information