Consider applying for Carers Allowance if you give over 35 hours of care a week. Check if you’re eligible here…
How much is Carers’ Allowance?
Carers Allowance is £69.70 per week if you give over 35 hours of care a week and earn under £132 a week after tax and ‘allowable expenses’ (@Oct 2022). That’s £3,624.40 pa and every little helps right now.
While Carers Allowance can unlock other benefits, it can also impact the benefits of the person you care for. You need to carefully check your and the person you care for’s circumstances against the list of conditions. If it all feels overwhelming (and it might), be reassured that you can get help. First, read the following summary and decide whether to take an online ‘benefits check’ before seeking further help to apply.
Is Carer’s allowance means tested?
Yes, Carers Allowance is means tested, and is a taxable benefit (and must be declared to HMRC).
Can I claim Carers Allowance for myself?
Check out Carers Allowance if you:
- look after someone who gets a disability benefit (Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Allowance (PIP) or Attendance Allowance).
- look after them for over 35 hours a week (from ‘keeping an eye on them’ to doing practical and helpful tasks). The 35 hours can be distributed across the 7-day week.
- don’t share this care with someone else who is claiming Carer’s Allowance (unless they change their benefits and the DWP decides who to pay it to)
- are over 16 and not in full-time education (or studying over 21 hours a week)
- don’t earn over £132 after NI, income tax, and ‘allowable expenses’ (like specialist clothing, travel costs between workplaces or a computer if you are self-employed, and up to 50% of an occupational/personal pension contribution payment). This is usually averaged out if you have peaks and troughs in earnings.
- have other income that doesn’t count in the assessment, including occupational or private pension income, contributions to household living or accommodation costs from someone you live with (not a tenant or lodger) or a loan from your employer.
- are a UK resident (for at least two of the last three years)
- don’t receive more than one ‘overlapping benefit’. But again, there is something called ‘underlying entitlement’ that you may be eligible for if you do.
There are differences depending whether you live in England, Scotland or Wales, so do check.
What benefits can you claim if you are a carer?
If you do qualify for Carer’s Allowance, then a ‘carer component’ is applied to your other means-tested benefits too. These include Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income Support and Council Tax Reduction etc.
If you don’t qualify for Carers Allowance, you may still be able to claim Carer’s Credit or an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carers Allowance. Consider persevering if you are borderline eligible.
How to claim Carers Allowance
I didn’t apply for Carer’s Allowance, after a benefits check showed I wasn’t eligible, so I’m glad I did that first. Carers’ Allowance, Carers’ Credit and the ‘underlying entitlement’ are complicated to figure out so I recommend you take a step by step approach too:
- First use an online benefits calculator to see if it’s a benefit worth pursuing. (There are other benefits checkers at the bottom of post Attendance Allowance and other financial help)
- If you are not sure, or you and your elder have complex benefits or income that need consideration, speak to your Local Authority’s Carer Support organisation who can help signpost you to help. Find other local help at Advicelocal.uk. Carers UK also do their best to explain Carers’ Allowance. Your local Citizens Advice could be a great source of help with the application too
- If you decide to claim, gather your info/documentation: your contact info, NI number, employment info (most recent payslip or P45), current education course, expenses and bank details, if applicable. And gather the details of the person you care for: their date of birth and NI number
- If you can, claim online as the screening questions beforehand might save valuable time, You apply through the UK central government office for Carers Allowance. This website will have the most up-to-date info too.
- Set aside a quiet day or two, as it will be inevitably slow going
- Try and send all info, including any supporting info altogether (to minimise processing delays/mix ups)
- Keep a record of your application and any documents you have attached or sent
- After applying, leave it a week, then contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit (0800 731 0297 M-F 8am-6pm) to check they have received your application safely. They can also help you with your claim, but can have long ‘on-hold’ times so try to call out of peak times.
- Ongoing, update the Carer’s Allowance Unit with any changes in your income.
You can backdate your claim by up to three months if you and the person you care for qualified in that period. Carers Allowance can take 13 to 15 weeks to come through, so apply asap.
What benefits am I entitled to?
Checking the benefits you’re entitled to is worth your while, as every year billions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed in the UK. Largely because it’s not clear what we’re all eligible for and it’s easy to become frustrated or exhausted by the application process.
Age UK estimated in April 2017 that there was £3.5m of unclaimed Pension Credit and Housing Benefit owed, yet unclaimed by older people every year. Make sure you and your elder claim what is due to you.
Carers Allowance is very low, arguably insultingly low, especially nowadays. It’s a topic of hard debate and advocacy for the millions of unpaid, family carers who are keeping their relatives well at home (and out of hospital, reducing pressure on the strained NHS).
Please do run a benefits check and at the very least find out if your elder qualifies for the non-means-tested Attendance Allowance and other financial help. Especially if you’re funding some of their expenses right now. Good luck.