If you are caring for someone, you may ask, 'Can I claim a carer's allowance for myself?'
Many people don't apply for this benefit simply because they're unsure whether they'll meet the criteria laid out by the Government.
Caring for a person includes many different activities, such as personal care, household help and accompanying them to appointments.
This article will explore who might be eligible for the carer's allowance, and what might stop you from claiming it.
Here’s a summary of what we will cover in this article:
- The carer’s allowance is a Government benefit to support those caring for someone with an illness or disability.
- You don’t need to be related to or live with the person you care for to claim it.
- There is a list of criteria to fulfil in order to claim a carer’s allowance, both for you and the person you care for.
- If claiming state pension, you will not be eligible to claim a carer’s allowance, but you could be entitled to another benefit instead.
What is a carer's allowance?
A carer’s allowance is a payment made by the Government to people caring for those with an illness or a disability.
They must be caring for them for 35 hours a week or more in order to claim it, and it is not to supplement the wages of people already working as a carer.
People looking after a relative, friend or child, but who are not being paid to do so are potentially eligible.
You may ask ‘what does being a carer involve?‘
‘Caring’ might be helping a person with a variety of tasks – like personal care such as washing, dressing, changing wound dressings, helping with taking medication and so on.
It might also include doing grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning for them, or even helping them to eat.
Supporting them to get around to social events or daycare is also considered part of a caring routine.
Regularly taking someone to their doctor or hospital appointments is another element of caring responsibilities.
How many hours do you need to care for someone?
You might be entitled to claim a carer’s allowance if your caring time adds up to 35 hours per week.
Remember, you don’t have to be living with or related to the person you provide care for to claim the allowance.
It’s worth noting that your savings will not be taken into account to be considered eligible for this benefit.
Do you spend 35 hours or more a week performing caring duties? If yes, then you could be eligible.
How much is the carer's allowance?
The carer’s allowance is a payment of £67.60 per week.
It is paid every four weeks rather than monthly. You can also ask to be paid weekly if you prefer.
A carer’s allowance will be paid directly into your bank account.
If you are under state pension age, you will also get National Insurance credits as part of the carer’s allowance.
This does not change the sum of £67.60 but will count toward your pension contributions.
Rules for claiming a carer's allowance
There are rules about claiming a carer’s allowance that will apply to both you and the person you care for.
Rules for you
All of these rules must apply to you:
- You must have lived in England, Scotland, NI or Wales for two out of the last three years.
- Be aged over 16.
- Normally live in England, Scotland, NI or Wales. Alternatively, you can live/have lived abroad while serving in the armed forces.
- Be living in England, Scotland, NI or Wales with the proper immigration status.
- You are not studying for 21 or more hours a week and are not in full-time education.
- Earn less than £128 per week after tax, NI and expenses.
Expenses are things like:
- Travel costs between different workplaces.
- Equipment or special clothing for your job.
- Business costs if you are self-employed, like a computer or accounting software.
- Up to 50% of your pension contributions.
- If you employ a carer for the individual you care for while you work, this can also be counted. The cost of the carer – up to 50% of your weekly wage – can be counted as an ‘expense’.
- The same also applies to the cost of childcare while you are at work.
- The carer you employ must not be a spouse, sibling or close family member.
You may still be eligible if you sometimes earn more than £128 per week. You can ask to have your average earnings calculated to check your eligibility.
Rules for the person you care for
The person you care for must be in receipt of one of the following:
- Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension. More here on how to claim attendance allowance.
- Armed Forces Independence Payment.
- Disability Living Allowance – the middle or highest care rate.
- Attendance Allowance.
- Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
- Child Disability Payment – the middle or highest care rate.
Can I claim a carer's allowance for myself?
Anyone who fulfils all of the above criteria can apply to claim a carer’s allowance for themselves.
You may need to check with the person you care for to make sure you both meet the criteria.
If you are currently in receipt of a State Pension, you will not be considered eligible for the carer’s allowance.
However, you may be eligible for housing benefit or pension credit instead, so make sure you investigate.
This is known as ‘underlying entitlement’ where you don’t get the benefit itself, but receive something else in lieu.
What happens if I’m claiming Universal Credit?
Those claiming Universal Credit may also not be eligible for a carer’s allowance as it is.
However, you may be eligible for something called a carer element, which is part of universal credit. This payment is instead of a carer’s allowance.
Those earning above the £128 per week, after the expenses threshold, can also investigate the carer element.
This benefit fulfils the same purpose as carer allowance, however, it is calculated differently, and has different criteria.
Have you heard of a carer’s credit?
There is also a benefit called carer’s credit, which some people who are not eligible for a carer’s allowance might be able to claim.
You will need to ask the DWP about the options available to you in your particular case.
You can ask about a supplemental benefit called Carers Allowance Supplement if you live in Scotland.
I’m on benefits, can I claim a carer’s allowance for myself?
You may be entitled to caring benefits, even if you do not meet the criteria for the carer’s allowance.
As we have seen this can include a carer’s credit, the carer element, or underlying entitlement. Eligibility for these depends on your own personal circumstances.
If you receive benefits of some types, you also may qualify for a ‘carer premium’.
This is similar to an underlying entitlement whereby the money you would get from a carer’s allowance is put into another benefit.
There’s more help here on financial benefits for elderly people.
Understanding the carer premium
Carer premium is where you don’t get a carer’s allowance itself, but instead receive additional funds topping up the following benefits:
- Housing benefits
- Rates relief
- Universal Credit
- Income-based Job Seekers allowance
- Employment and Support allowance
Do I have to claim?
You do not have to claim a carer’s allowance, carer premium or underlying entitlement if you do not want or need it.
In fact, claiming these benefits can affect what the person you care for is entitled to.
Depending on the circumstance, the person you care for may stop getting:
- the severe disability premium payment in their income-related benefit.
- the extra payment for severe disability in their Pension Credit.
It is important to seek clarity from the DWP about your particular circumstance.
What about if I take a break from caring?
Just because you aren’t caring for your individual for a period of time, don’t assume you will stop getting your carer’s allowance.
There are some situations where a break in caring is permitted.
You can go on holiday for up to 4 weeks and still receive your benefit.
This also applies to the person you care for – they may take a holiday for up to 4 weeks without you, but you will still receive the carer’s allowance.
What happens if either of us is hospitalised?
If either of you spends up to 12 weeks in hospital, you will still receive your carer’s allowance.
Respite care can be an important part of caring for someone with complex needs.
If the person you care for spends up to 4 weeks in a care home, you will still receive the carer’s allowance.
Please note that you will not continue to receive the benefit if they take up a permanent place in a care home.
There may be funding available to cover some of the cost of a residential care home. Check out our guide to care home costs.
So, can I claim a carer’s allowance for myself?
Hopefully, you’ll have some answers to the question of whether you could be eligible for the carer’s allowance.
Remember, it’s worth investigating your eligibility as you could meet the criteria.
Caring for a loved one can be challenging and the benefit is there to support that work.
Don’t be afraid to claim what you are rightfully entitled to for the work you are doing.
Find the care you deserve
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