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Help with benefits

Working out what benefits or tax credits you might be entitled to can feel like a battle. Having the right information and support can make a huge difference.

  • Carer's assessment

    Carer’s assessments are for adult carers of adults (over 18 years) who are disabled, ill or elderly.

  • Grants and schemes

    Throughout the UK there are thousands of grants and schemes available to help people in need.

  • Electronic patient records

    Looking after someone can take up a lot of time, so anything that makes life easier can make a difference. Getting signed up to your GP online services could help.

  • The right to parental leave

    If you have at least one year's continuous service with your employer and are responsible for a child aged under 18 you are entitled to 18 weeks (unpaid) leave per child to look after your child

  • Paying for care and support in England FAQ

    On the Carers UK Adviceline we receive lots of questions about when the local council might help with the cost of care and support. This FAQ covers some of the most commonly asked questions on this topic.

  • Social relationships

    Caring can place a big strain on families. Carers sometimes say that friends and family disappear once caring begins. This can lead to isolation and resentment. In this article we examine what happens when your support networks fall away.

  • Work focused interviews / work related activity

    Sometimes carers who are in receipt of Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance (in the Work Related Activity Group) may be asked to take part in work focused interviews and undertake work related activity.

  • Taking a break

    Caring for someone can be a full-time job so breaks are vital to your own wellbeing and quality of life.

  • Family relationships

  • Needs assessment

    Needs assessments are for adults (18 years of age or over) who may need help because of a disability, ill health or old age.

  • Life after caring

    The end of your caring role may take some time to adjust to. Having more time to yourself may give you the opportunity for a much needed rest, but it can also leave you feeling that you have a lot of time to fill.

  • What is Carer's Allowance?

    Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. If you are looking after someone for 35 hours a week or more, you may be eligible.

  • Mental capacity in England and Wales

    The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides the legal framework for making decisions on behalf of people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions themselves.

  • TV Licence

    Some people are entitled to a free or discounted TV Licence.

  • Time off in emergencies

    Employees have the right to take a 'reasonable' amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

  • Different ways of managing someone’s affairs in England and Wales

    There are different ways of managing someone’s affairs depending on whether the person you are looking after can currently make their own decisions or whether they are unable to make their own decisions.

  • Getting enough sleep

    Sleep is a vital part of our daily life and important for our physical and mental health. However, many carers often struggle to get a good night's sleep.

  • Learning and education

    Whether it is a short evening course or a degree, taking on a new learning activity can be of real value to carers.

  • Council tax / Rate Relief

    There are a number of ways in which you might be able to get help with your council tax bill.

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

    If you have a long term illness or disability – physical and/or mental – and you are aged between 16 and 64 years old then you may be entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

  • You and your partner

    Most couples have a lot on their plate. Whether it's paying the bills or juggling work and family, it can be hard to find time for each other. But when disability or illness happens to one of you then things can get a whole lot harder.

  • Bereavement

    Losing someone close to you can be devastating. If you have been caring for that person, the loss can seem even greater. How you process your feelings about the death of the person you looked after is a very personal thing.

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

    If you are looking after a child with a health condition or disability who is under the age of 16 years then they may be entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This can help towards the extra costs of bringing up a disabled child.

  • End of life planning

    When someone is nearing the end of life they may want to consider and plan how they will be looked after at this time.

  • Carers UK Privacy Policy

    Carers UK is committed to protecting your personal information and being transparent about what we do with it.

  • Help with your pension

  • Mental capacity in Scotland

    The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 provides the legal framework for making decisions on behalf of people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions themselves.

  • Caring for your back

    Most of us will suffer back pain at some stage of our lives. But as a carer, you're even more likely to be affected. Knowing how to protect your back can help to keep it in good shape.

  • If you want to start work or return to work

    At some point in your caring role you may decide you want to combine work with caring, or you may want to work if your caring role changes or ends

  • Fuel costs

    You or the person you are looking after may be entitled to certain payments to help with fuel bills.

  • Making complaints

    If you, or the person you are looking after, are having issues with the local council/trust, the NHS or a care service, you or they could make a complaint to try and resolve these issues.

  • Planning for emergencies

    As a carer you need to know that if an emergency happens, replacement care will get sorted out speedily and efficiently.

  • Different ways of managing someone’s affairs in Scotland

    There are different ways of managing someone’s affairs depending on whether the person you are looking after can currently make their own decisions or whether they are unable to make their own decisions.

  • If you are thinking of leaving work

    If you are thinking of leaving work it is important to consider the full implications it could have on your income, quality of life and future pension entitlements

  • Auto enrolment

    Auto enrolment is a policy set up by the government to ensure that as many employees as possible are placed into an occupational pension scheme.

  • Your GP

    Your GP (General Practitioner) and primary care team can provide you with invaluable support, advice and information.

  • Attendance Allowance

    Attendance Allowance is a state benefit that helps with the extra costs of long-term illness or disability, which can be either physical and/or mental. It is for people aged 65 and over.

  • Residential care

    If the person you are looking after is no longer able to live independently at home because their care needs have increased, and for whatever reason you can no longer provide the care they need, residential care can be a sensible and realistic option.

  • Benefits for carers who are working age

    If you are a carer of working age, there may be benefits you can claim in addition to (or instead of) Carer's Allowance.

  • Coping with stress and depression

    Stress and depression can affect anyone, but the pressure and expectations of caring can make carers particularly vulnerable.

  • Jointly App

    Developed by Carers UK, Jointly is an innovative mobile and online app that is designed by carers for carers.

  • Coming out of hospital

    Deciding to care or continue caring for someone who is
    coming out of hospital and who can no longer care for
    themselves in the same way as before can be very difficult.

  • Eating well for carers

    As a carer, eating a balanced diet is essential to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. A balanced diet will keep your body strong and give you enough energy to provide the best care for the person you are caring for and yourself.

  • Additional support in work

    As well as your statutory rights in work there might be additional support you can get to help you juggle work and care.

  • Young carers and carers of children under 18

    Young carers and carers of children under 18 have different assessments to adult carers of adults.

  • Help with health costs

    If you are on a low income, or receiving certain benefits or tax credits, you may be entitled to full or partial help towards NHS costs

  • Improving nutritional intake

    Find out how to improve the nutritional intake of the person you care for

  • Care Act FAQ

    Find out about the Care Act 2014 and what it means for you.

  • Benefits for carers who are pension age

    Most carers who are pension age will be receiving a State Pension. There might be other benefits you can claim as a carer who is pension age.

  • Coping with guilt and resentment

    Caring for someone can be very rewarding and can bring you closer together, but it can also be challenging and sometimes upsetting.

  • Your right to request flexible working

    Flexible working might allow you to manage both your work and caring responsibilities.

  • Benefit cap

    The benefit cap limits the total amount of benefit that can be paid to a non-working household

  • Flu jabs for carers

    The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and the person you care for from flu, and will prevent you being stopped from being able to care.

  • Equipment - and how to get it

    Equipment to help you care can be sourced privately or via the NHS or your local council.

  • Discrimination under the Equality Act 2010

    If you are looking after someone who is elderly or disabled, the law - under the Equality Act 2010 - will protect you against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities.

  • Direct payments

    If you, or the person you are looking after, are assessed by the local council/trust as needing support, then you or they have a right to ask for a direct payment instead of having the support arranged by the local council/trust.

  • Signs of a problem

    At different stages in our lives our nutritional needs can change. It is very common to take in less food when living with a medical condition, recovering from an illness or operation, or simply as a result of getting older.

  • Housing Benefit

    If you are on a low income and living in rented accommodation, Housing Benefit can help with your rent.

  • Your statutory rights in work

    If you are juggling work with looking after someone, you are not alone - there are three million working carers in the UK.

  • Rights charter

    In this section we provide information on carers' rights. This will include information on the proposed Carers Rights Charter and links to relevant case law and legislation.

  • Dementia and nutrition

    Many people living with dementia may experience a change in their relationship with food, eating and drinking. As dementia progresses, the behavioural, emotional and physical changes that occur can make eating and drinking more difficult.

  • Finding care and support yourself

    The following information will be helpful if you want to find care and support for the person you are looking after.

  • Bedroom Tax

    The Housing Benefit Size Criteria Rules have been in place since April 2013, and are commonly referred to as the ‘bedroom tax‘, or the 'spare room subsidy' as named by the government.

  • Equipment and changes to your home

    Different types of equipment or changes to your home could help make your home safer, your life easier and provide independence for the person you are looking after.

  • Challenging a benefit decision

    If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (England, Wales & Scotland) or the Department for Communities (DfC) (Northern Ireland) make a decision about your benefits that you do not agree with you can challenge this decision.

  • Care standards and CQC

    Read about what standards you can expect from care organisations, and what you can do if you think these are not being met. (Note: England only)

  • Maryann's story

    Maryann Finnegan from Belfast has been caring for her mum for almost 16 years. With her growing family including twins aged 22 months, she often has her hands full at meal times.

  • Telecare and telehealth

    Telecare and telehealth services use technology to help disabled or elderly people to live independently in their own homes and give you – the carer – peace of mind that they are safe and well.

  • State of Caring Conference

  • Universal Credit

    Universal Credit (UC) is a means-tested benefit that is being gradually introduced.

  • Tax Credits and Child Benefit

    If you are a carer who is in work and/or who has dependent children you might be entitled to claim Tax Credits and Child Benefit.

  • Carers Parliament

    The first annual Carers Parliament was held on 1 October 2012 at Holyrood.

  • Orig charter

  • Other legislation & policy

  • Self-directed support

  • Help with debt

    When caring affects families, it’s all too easy for carers to face financial pressures and crisis as they are often forced to reduce hours, or give up work and face the extra costs of disability and ill-health.

  • Integration

  • Everyday technology

  • Get in contact with us

    Every day we hear from people who need help with looking after a friend or family member.

  • Carers UK Cookie Policy

    Carers UK respects the privacy of visitors to our website and wants to protect any personal information that you give to us.

  • Terms and conditions

    These are the terms and conditions of Carers UK website and all other Carers UK websites.

Help with your pension

If you have given up work to care for someone, your State Pension may not be your first concern. However, if your working life is interrupted because your paid job ends it can have a detrimental impact on how much State Pension you receive in the future.

This information applies to people living in England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland.

Not everybody automatically qualifies for a full basic State Pension on reaching retirement age. The amount of State Pension you get usually depends on how many qualifying years of National Insurance (NI) you have built up over the years. If you miss paying these because you have taken time out of paid work, then you may lose out. 

The good news is that if your employment ends because you are caring for someone who is disabled, ill or frail then the state can credit your NI contributions for you. However, this isn't automatic and only happens if you claim the right benefits and take the right action.

The new State Pension has now replaced the previous State Pension. The new State Pension came into effect on the 6th April 2016 and means that anyone who reaches state pension age after this date will claim the new State Pension. Anyone who reached state pension age before 6th April 2016 (including those who have deferred claiming their pension) will stay on the ‘old system’ i.e. they will keep the State Pension they already have. No-one will be transferred on to the new State Pension, and the old style State Pension will still be uprated each year in the same way as now.

How carers qualify for a State Pension

How much State Pension might I get? 

There are now two set of rules for working out how much State Pension you will be entitled to.

Anyone reaching State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016 will qualify for the new State Pension, sometimes called the ‘flat rate pension’. So women born on or after 6th April 1953 and men born on or after 6th April 1951 will get the new State Pension.

The new State Pension has been set at a maximum of £164.35 a week (2018/19 rate).

When you claim your State Pension the government will carry out two calculations to work out how much pension you will get.

  • firstly they will work out how much State Pension you would have got under the 'old rules', based on your National Insurance (NI) contributions and NI credits before 6th April 2016 - this is called the ‘starting amount’
  • secondly they will work out how much State Pension you would have got had the new State Pension rules been in place since the start of your working life

You will get the higher of the two amounts, even if it is higher than the maximum of £164.35 a week.

If your ‘starting amount’ is lower than the maximum amount of the new State Pension, and you are still paying NI contributions or getting NI credits, then your contributions can be combined, but only up to the maximum amount of the new State Pension.

What were the 'old rules' for qualifying for a State Pension?

People reaching state pension age before 6th April 2016 (both women and men) needed 30 qualifying years of NI contributions or NI credits to receive the full basic State Pension. Those with less than 30 qualifying years get a proportionate amount.

Many people receive more that the basic State Pension, because the 'old rules' included an Additional State Pension (previously known as SERPS or the Second State Pension). It is paid to people who have paid over a certain level of NI contributions per year, or who have received the right benefits, or who have had their contributions paid for them.

What are the 'new rules' for qualifying for a State Pension?

To get the maximum amount of £164.35 a week you must have paid NI contributions or had NI credits for 35 years. Anyone with less than 10 years will get nothing. Those with between 10 and 34 years of NI contributions or NI credits will get a proportionate amount of the maximum new State Pension.

Unlike under the 'old rules' the new State Pension does not have any additional amounts.

How much NI do I need to have paid each year for it to count towards my State Pension?

In each tax year there is a minimum amount or ‘lower earnings limit’ that you have to be earning in order to make the right amount of NI contributions. The lower earnings limit is £116 a week (2018/19 rate), so for a whole tax year this is £116 x 52 weeks = £6,032.  If you have earned at least the required amount in any year, that year will usually be a qualifying year and will count towards the total qualifying years needed. 

What if carers don’t pay NI because they are not earning?

Certain people are ‘credited’ with NI contributions. This means that a contribution is put on their record equal to the lower earnings limit in each week that they fulfil certain conditions or receive certain benefits, including:

This means if you get one of these benefits you do not need to take any action to protect your pension. It is done automatically.

What happens if you have not been in receipt of earnings or benefits?

Most carers in this situation can claim something called Carer's Credit. This will protect your right to a State Pension even if you are not working or claiming benefits. See the Carer's Credit section for further information.

Warning signs that you may have gaps in your NI record

  • if you have had breaks in paid employment that are not totally covered by benefits
  • if you have spent time caring without realising you were entitled to benefits
  • if you have had periods on low level earnings i.e. paid below the level at which you pay NI contributions
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Five steps to maximise your State Pension

Step 1: make sure you receive all the relevant benefits you are entitled to - contact the Carers UK Adviceline for a benefit check

Step 2: if you are not paying NI contributions through employment, and are not receiving benefits which will give you NI credits, check whether you can claim Carer's Credit (see the Carer's Credit section for further information)

Step 3: check your NI record either online, by contacting the NI Helpline on 0300 200 3500 (textphone: 0300 200 3519) or by writing to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (you can see the address here)

Step 4: ask for a State Pension forecast either online, by contacting the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175 (textphone: 0800 731 0176) or by writing to the Future Pension Centre (you can download the form and see the address here)

Step 5: look into what else you could be doing for your State Pension - contact the Pensions Advisory Service for impartial advice

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Carer's Credit

Carer's Credit is a way of protecting pension rights for people who are caring for someone but are not paying National Insurance (NI) contributions through paid work and are unable to claim Carer's Allowance. If you already get Carer's Allowance then you do not need to claim Carer's Credit as your pension is already protected.

You could benefit from Carer's Credit if you are in one of these situations:

  • you care for one or more people for 20 hours or more a week but miss out on Carer's Allowance because you don't care for any one of them for 35 hours or more a week
  • where there is more than one of you caring for someone, and someone else is getting the Carer's Allowance for that person
  • you care for someone who can't or refuses to claim disability benefits, or if the disability benefits of the person you are caring for have stopped due to them being in hospital or residential care
  • you are within 12 weeks of claiming Carer's Allowance and/or within 12 weeks of your claim for Carer's Allowance stopping

Who is eligible for Carer's Credit?

To claim Carer’s Credit you need to be looking after someone for a total of 20 hours or more a week (although see below for the rules on breaks in care). The person you are looking after must normally be getting one of the following:

If the person you’re caring for doesn’t get one of these benefits, you may still be able to get Carer’s Credit. When you apply, fill in the Care Certificate part of the application form and get a health or social care professional to sign it.

Carer’s Credit can also help with breaks in your caring role. You can claim Carer’s Credit for any week within 12 weeks before the date you become entitled to Carer’s Allowance or following the week you stop being entitled to Carer’s Allowance. This is without meeting the 20 hour condition. This means you could have a break in caring for up to 12 weeks without losing your NI contribution credit.


Sue cares for her brother Alfred. Alfred receives Attendance Allowance and Sue claims Carer’s Allowance for looking after him. Alfred goes into hospital and his Attendance Allowance stops after 28 days. This means that Sue’s Carer’s Allowance will also stop after 28 days. Sue can claim Carer’s Credit for up to 12 weeks after her Carer’s Allowance stops.

How do I claim Carer's Credit?

In England, Wales and Scotland you can download a claim form online or you can contact the Carers Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297 (textphone: 0800 731 0317 ) and ask them to send you a claim form .

In Northern Ireland you can download a claim form online or you can contact the Disability and Carers Service on 0800 587 0912 (textphone: 028 9031 1092) and ask them to send you a claim form.

Your Carer's Credit application must normally be received before the end of the tax year following the tax year to which the credits relate, although this time limit can sometimes be extended if it is considered reasonable.

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Help with health costs

If you are on a low income, or receiving certain benefits or tax credits, you may be entitled to full or partial help towards NHS costs


Free NHS benefits

If you are getting one of the following means tested benefits, then you can get full help with NHS health costs:

  • Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not contribution based)
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

If you get Working Tax Credits, then you may be eligible for an NHS tax credit exemption certificate, which entitles you to full help with NHS health costs.

Help with NHS health costs can include:

If you are aged 60 and over, then you can get free prescriptions and NHS eye tests regardless of your income.

Low income

If you do not receive one of the qualifying benefits listed above but have a low income, then you may be able to get ‘full’ or ‘partial’ help towards NHS health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). You can apply for the scheme if your savings, investments or property (not counting the place where you live) do not exceed the capital limit.

In England, this is:

  • £23,250 for people who live permanently in a care home
  • £16,000 for everyone else

Depending on your individual circumstances, you will either receive 'full help' (through an HC2 certificate) or 'partial help' (through an HC3 certificate). To apply for an HC2 certificate, you should complete an HC1 form, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices and most NHS hospitals. You can also get an HC1 form by calling 0845 610 1112.

If you need an assistance in making your claim or have questions about the LIS, then you can contact an adviser on 0300 330 1343.

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Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland

The NHS is structured differently in Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland. To find out more about help with health costs in each nation, click the relevant button below.



Northern Ireland

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  • Help with benefits

    Working out what benefits or tax credits you are entitled to is a difficult task.

    Frankly the system can be baffling, which is one of the reasons why around £1.1 billion of benefits goes unclaimed by carers each year.

    This section is full of useful information, but we'd always recommend that you contact a qualified advisor to do a thorough benefits check looking at your individual circumstances.

    Our Adviceline experts can do a benefits check for you. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to help.

  • Help with household finances

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