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You may be entitled to a benefit called Carer's Allowance
If you spend a lot of time looking after someone with an illness or disability, you may be entitled to extra money in the form of a benefit called Carer’s Allowance.
We explain what Carer’s Allowance is, who can claim it, your responsibilities whilst receiving it, how to apply and what you can do if you’re turned down.
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What is Carer’s Allowance?
If you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with an illness or disability, you may be eligible for extra money called Carer’s Allowance.
It is paid at a rate of £76.75 per week (2023/24).
Who can claim Carer's Allowance?
You may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance if all the following apply:
• You look after someone for at least 35 hours a week.
• You don’t earn more than £139 per week (after deductions including tax, national insurance and certain expenses). Find out more about the earnings limit.
• The person you care for receives a disability benefit (see below).
• You’re aged 16 or over.
• You’re not in full-time education.
• You meet UK residence and presence conditions and UK immigration conditions – Citizens Advice has detailed information on this. Contact Advice NI if you live in Northern Ireland.
For more details about each of the above requirements, read on and take a look at our Carer's Allowance factsheet.
They must receive one of the following:
- the daily living component or of Personal Independence
- Attendance Allowance
- the middle or higher rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Constant Attendance Allowance at the normal maximum rate paid with the Industrial Injuries or War Pensions schemes
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- the middle or higher rate of Child Disability Payment (Scotland)
- the daily living component of Adult Disability Payment (Scotland).
Importantly your National Insurance record will help to build your entitlement to certain state benefits, such as the State Pension and Maternity Allowance. Carer’s Allowance counts towards your National Insurance record.
How does this work?
You’ll automatically get National Insurance credits for each week you receive Carer’s Allowance.
For each week that you receive Carer’s Allowance, you automatically get a Class 1 NI credit to help protect your record. These class 1 credits can help meet the conditions for a number of benefits: new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance, new-style Employment and Support Allowance, Maternity Allowance, and some bereavement benefits as well as the State Pension.
You can check your contribution record on the UK Government website here. Class 3 credits will help towards your State Pension, but for other benefits you will need to check the different eligibility conditions as class 1 credits alone may not be sufficient.
If you can’t claim Carer’s Allowance, claiming Carer’s Credit is another way of protecting your record.
You do not get paid any money if you claim Carer's Credit, but you get a class 3 NI contribution credit to help protect your record.
Both Class 1 and Class 3 credits count towards the State Pension and some bereavement benefits. However Class 3 credits do not count towards the contribution conditions for new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance, new-style Employment and Support Allowance and Maternity Allowance.
Find out more about Carer's Credit.
If you are receiving a State Pension, you won’t be able to claim Carer’s Allowance at the same time, but may still benefit from what is known as an ‘underlying entitlement’ to it.
Benefits for the person you care for
Carer’s Allowance will not reduce or stop certain disability benefits (such as PIP, Attendance Allowance, DLA) the person you care for is receiving. However it can sometimes affect any means-tested benefits they get.
If the person you care for receives a “severe disability premium” paid with any of their means-tested benefits (such as income-related ESA or an extra amount for severe disability paid with Pension Credit), this will stop when you claim Carer’s Allowance.
These severe disability amounts can also affect the amount of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support/Reduction a person may get so if you have any doubts, it is a good idea to arrange a benefit check. Email our Carers UK Helpline team, firstname.lastname@example.org or as a starting point, you could try out this benefits calculator.
Benefits you claim
You can’t usually claim and be paid Carer’s Allowance if you’re already claiming State Pension or income-replacement benefits such as contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance or contribution- based Jobseeker’s Allowance. The exception is if these benefits pay you less than £76.75 a week, in which case Carer’s Allowance can top up your income to this amount. These benefits tend to pay more than Carer’s Allowance so this rarely applies.
However, it’s still worth making a claim for Carer’s Allowance if you’re receiving these benefits.
This is because you may be entitled to what’s called an ‘underlying entitlement’. This means you meet the qualifying conditions for Carer’s Allowance but can’t be paid it because of another benefit you receive.
You will be sent a letter evidencing your underlying entitlement to the benefit, which can be useful to help prove your caring role if needed. It would also mean that any means-tested benefit you’re already receiving could be increased, or you could become entitled to a means-tested benefit for the first time.
How to claim Carer's Allowance
As well as following these steps below, you may find it helpful to take a look at our ‘Tips on applying’ sheet if you’re applying for the first time.
Step 1: You can apply online at gov.uk or you can apply by post by completing a form called DS700 or DS700(SP) if you’re getting a state pension.
It is worth including your mobile number so that they can contact you easily. Or call the Carer’s Allowance Unit to ask for a claim form on 0800 731 0297. If you have speech or hearing difficulties, you can contact them by textphone on 0800 731 0317.
Step 2:You can follow the guidance on the gov.uk website to help, or ask for assistance if needed from a local advice agency. Local carer organisations can also offer support – find yours using our directory.
If you live in Northern Ireland
Step 1: you can apply online or contact the Disability Carers Service on 0800 587 0912 (textphone: 0800 012 1574). You can also apply by post. Request a DS700 form or a DS700(SP) form if you’re getting a State Pension.
It’s very important to make sure you report any changes to your circumstances as they occur to the Carers Allowance Unit online or by calling 0800 731 0297 (textphone: 0800 731 0317). In Northern Ireland, contact the Disability and Carers Service on 0800 587 0912 (textphone: 0800 012 1574) or online.
Don’t assume that if you’ve told another government department, the council, the trust, or HMRC that this information will be passed on.
Changes in circumstances include:
- your income or employment has changed
- you start work, regardless of how much you will be earning
- you’re taking a break from caring or travelling abroad
- the person you’re looking after is going into hospital or residential care
- the person you’re looking after has passed away.
Our Carer's Allowance factsheet has more detailed information.
Report any changes, however small, as they may affect how your entitlement to Carer’s Allowance is worked out. If you keep getting Carer's Allowance when you’re not entitled to it, you may have to pay the money back or even pay a penalty fine. Another option is to report any changes online on the GOV.UK website.
You could ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the Department for Communities (DfC) in Northern Ireland to look at the decision again. This is called a mandatory reconsideration and has to be done before you take any steps to appeal.
If you still disagree with the decision
You can lodge an appeal with the Tribunal Service or the Appeals Service (TAS) in Northern Ireland. Send a copy of the mandatory reconsideration with the appeal.
There are time limits for both stages, so it is important to act quickly. You usually need to take action within one month. See our appealing a benefit decision online guide for more information. If you fall outside of the time limit, it may still be possible to challenge a decision.
If you’re claiming Carer’s Allowance, you need to make sure you notify the Carers Allowance Unit or the Disability and Carers Service (in Northern Ireland) of any changes to your circumstances that would affect how much you receive.
Notify them online here or see 'What if my circumstances change?' above.
At the moment, the earnings threshold is set at £139 (2023/24) per week after deductions. Even if you are just £1 over this limit, you will lose 100% of your Carer’s Allowance which is currently £76.75 per week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (in Scotland it is worth more because of the Carer Supplement, but the overpayment rules are the same currently).
If you don’t notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of these changes through the Carer's Allowance Unit or Disability and Carers Service, and Carer’s Allowance continues to be paid when you are not entitled to it, this is then called an ‘overpayment’ and you would receive a notification requiring you to pay it back by the DWP.
You can find more guidance on our overpayments page here. Seek advice if you’re worried you’ve been paid Carer’s Allowance when you shouldn’t. Email us on email@example.com – we understand this can be difficult and are here to help. Alternatively, you could contact a local advice organisation.
If you are paid Carer’s Allowance (or have an underlying entitlement to it), you may qualify for extra money paid with any means-tested benefits you receive such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction/Support, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is called the Carer Premium. See ‘What is the Carer Premium?’ for more information.
If you receive Pension Credit, this extra money is referred to as the Carer Addition or it is called the Carer Element if you are paid Universal Credit.
Carers in Scotland may also be able to claim extra money called the Carer’s Allowance Supplement.
This is an extra payment you can receive if you live in Scotland and get Carer’s Allowance on a particular date. It’s paid twice a year as a lump sum. Visit the mygov.scot website to find out more.
Where can I get further help and support?
See our factsheet, Carer's Allowance, for further details on the topics listed above and for the contact details of organisations that can provide more tailored advice. If you have a specific query, you can also email our Helpline team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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