Our welfare rights adviser responds to common FAQs about claiming Carer's Allowance in our podcast series.
Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers.
It is not means tested so it does not matter what savings you have, and most forms of income are ignored. However if you work you can only get Carer's Allowance if your earnings after deductions are no more than £110 per week.
Who qualifies for Carer's Allowance?
You qualify for this benefit if you provide at least 35 hours of care per week to someone who gets one of:
- the middle or highest rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment at either rate
- attendance allowance at any rate.
There are additional tests if you work or study:
- if you work you must not earn more than the 'earnings limit' of £110 after deductions for tax, national insurance, 50% of pension contributions and certain childcare costs. Only your earnings are counted - if you have a partner who works their earnings are ignored.
- if you study your course must not be treated as full time.
How much will I receive?
Carer's Allowance is £62.10 a week.
You can only get one award of Carer's Allowance even if you are looking after more than one person. If you share the care of your child with another person and each of you provides at least 35 hours a week care, only one of you will receive Carer's Allowance for that child.
If you are eligible for Carer's Allowance, an extra 'carer premium' will be included as part of your means-tested benefits, such as Income Support and Housing Benefit. This also applies to people who have an "underlying entitlement" to Carer's Allowance but cannot receive it because they are getting certain other benefits instead - see the section below.
Claiming Carer's Allowance can also help protect your State Pension. This is because you will receive a Class 1 National Insurance credit for every week you receive Carer's Allowance.
Establishing an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance
You cannot be paid Carer's Allowance at the same time as certain other non-means tested benefits like contributory Employment and Support Allowance or State Pension.
However it is still worthwhile making a claim for Carer's Allowance in these circumstances. By making a claim you will establish an "underlying entitlement" to Carer's Allowance. This means you will be counted as a carer for means-tested benefits, and these will be calculated more generously with a carer premium being added to your payments.
Carer's Allowance and tax credits
Carer's Allowance is treated as income for tax credits purposes. Despite this you are usually left better off after making a claim. This is because the amount of Carer's Allowance paid is greater than any drop in tax credits.
In order to avoid a tax credit overpayment it is important that you let the Tax Credit Office know that you are getting Carer's Allowance.
How to claim Carer's Allowance
You can apply on-line using the government's Carer's Allowance webpage.
Alternatively if you would prefer to use a paper claim form you can call the Carer's Allowance Unit on 03456 084321. To make a claim in Northern Ireland call the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 220 674.
Carer's Allowance should be backdated to the start of the DLA/PIP award so long as you claim within 3 months of receiving the decision awarding your child DLA or PIP.
Carer's Allowance and the new National Living Wage
In April 2016 the new National Living Wage was introduced.
This saw the minimum wage for those aged 25 or over increase from
£6.70 to £7.20 per hour. While this was good news for most low paid
workers, this has caused problems for parents whose new earnings
take them over the Carer's Allowance earnings limit.
Similarly, although the Carer's Allowance earnings limit
will be increased to £116 a week from April 2017, the National
Living Wage will rise to £7.50 per hour in the same month. This
means some parents will again go over the Carer's Allowance
Read our advice if you think you might be affected.
- Download our Carer's Allowance summary factsheet [PDF]
- Sign up to our What's New e-newsletter to receive the latest updates about benefit changes.
- Find out more about Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment.
- Join our campaign for better support for carers.
- Read how to get a carer's needs assessment.