To get Carer’s Allowance you must meet all the following conditions:
- You look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit.
- You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week.
- You are aged 16 or over.
- You are not in full-time education.
- You earn £100 a week or less (after deductions).
- You satisfy UK presence and residence conditions.
1. You look after someone who gets one of the following qualifying disability benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance at either the middle or highest rate for personal care needs;
- The daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (at either rate);
- Attendance Allowance (at either rate); or
- Constant Attendance Allowance (of the normal maximum rate) paid with the Industrial Injuries or War Pensions schemes.
2. You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week
The 35 hours can include time spent physically helping the person, time you spend ‘keeping an eye’ on the person you look after, such as preventing them coming to harm by wandering out of the house, and time spent doing practical tasks for them, such as cooking.
The time you spend caring must usually be in the presence of the person you are looking after. However, if they come to visit you, the time you spend caring includes preparing for their visit on the day they arrive and clearing up after they leave. It also includes the time you spend collecting them from or taking them back to the place where they live.
Note that you must provide 35 hours of care for every week you claim Carer’s Allowance . If your hours drop below this for whatever reason you may not be entitled (read more about this).
For Carer’s Allowance, a week runs from Sunday to Saturday. You cannot average out your hours over a number of weeks. You cannot add together the time you spend caring for different people to make up the 35 hours. If you care for more than one person, you must choose which person you claim for, as you can only get one payment of Carer’s Allowance.
Similarly, if you share the caring role with another person, and you both provide at least 35 hours of care every week, only one of you can claim Carer’s Allowance. You need to decide between you who should make the claim. The other person should seek advice about the benefits they can claim.
However, if the person you care for is also caring for someone, you can both claim Carer’s Allowance as long as you both meet all the criteria. This also applies if you are caring for each other.
3. You are aged 16 or over
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who are 16 years old or over. You can make a claim up to three months before your 16th birthday although the benefit will only be paid from the day you become 16.
4. You are not in full-time education
You cannot claim Carer’s Allowance if you are in full time education. However, the meaning of 'full time' is complicated and may depend on a number of factors including the type of course you are doing. If you are studying or thinking about studying then seek further advice.
5. You earn more than the earnings limit for Carer's Allowance (after deductions)
If you are in paid work (including self employment) you cannot get Carer’s Allowance if you earn more than the earnings limit.
The following amounts are deducted from your gross weekly earnings before your earnings are taken into account for Carer’s Allowance:
- Income Tax
- National Insurance
- half your contributions towards an occupational/personal pension.
If you are self-employed, you can also first deduct expenses that are incurred ‘wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business’, in the same way that you can for income tax purposes.
If you have to pay for someone to look after the person you care for whilst you are at work you can also deduct those payments from your earnings up to the value of half your earnings (after the above deductions if they apply).
However, this will not apply if the person you are paying is a close relative of either yourself or the person you care for if they are 16 or over. A "close relative" is a spouse, civil partner, partner, parent, son, daughter, brother or sister.
Occupational or personal pensions do not count as earnings and you can be paid Carer’s Allowance in addition to these. If you do receive taxable income such as occupational or private pension or part-time earnings, you should inform the tax office about your Carer's Allowance. This is because Carer's Allowance is a taxable benefit.
6. You satisfy UK presence and residence conditions
The residence and presence rules changed from 8 April 2013 for new claimants. From that date to satisfy the residence and presence tests you must:
- Have been present in Great Britain for 104 weeks out of the 156 weeks before claiming (2 out of the last 3 years); and
- Be habitually resident.
Some people may be treated as being in the UK while abroad, eg members of the armed forces. Special rules apply to countries in the EC, and several others with whom Britain has agreements. If you think this applies to you, get advice.
You cannot usually get Carer’s Allowance if you have immigration restrictions on your stay in the UK (eg you are not allowed to claim public funds which include most welfare benefits and housing and homelessness services). If this is the case, seek advice before claiming as a claim for Carer’s Allowance could affect your future right to remain in the UK.