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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.


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


Other benefits you may be able to look into include Carer's Allowance, Pension Credit, Support for Mortgage Interest, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction (Rate Relief in Northern Ireland).


Carer's Allowance and State Pensions

While there is no upper age limit for claiming Carer's Allowance, you cannot receive the full amount of both Carer's Allowance and your State Pension at the same time. This is because Carer's Allowance and State Pensions are classed as 'overlapping benefits'. However, you might still be able to get some extra money in recognition of your caring role.

If your State Pension is less than Carer's Allowance (less than £62.70 per week) you can get the difference paid in Carer's Allowance. For example, if your State Pension is £50 per week you can get £12.70 per week in Carer's Allowance.

If your State Pension is more than Carer's Allowance (more than £62.70 per week) you cannot be paid any Carer's Allowance. However it might still be worth claiming, as you can still get an 'underlying entitlement' to Carer's Allowance. Whilst this is not financially beneficial itself, it can increase any means-tested benefits you are currently getting or mean you become entitled to means-tested benefits for the first time (depending on your and any partner's income and capital). This is because having the 'underlying entitlement' to Carer's Allowance means that a Carer Addition will be included when working out whether you are entitled to means-tested benefits.


Note: The means-tested benefits for people of pension age are Pension Credit, Support for Mortgage Interest, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction (Rate Relief in Northern Ireland).

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Pension Credit

Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit for people who have reached 'state pension credit age' and who have income and capital below a certain amount.

State pension credit age for a woman is the age she would reach state pension age and for a man is the age he would reach state pension age if he was a woman. You can see whether you or your partner are state pension credit age here.

Pension Credit has two parts: Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Pension Credit.


Guarantee Pension Credit

Guarantee Pension Credit works by topping up your income to your ‘appropriate amount’ which is the amount the law says you need to live on.

Working out your ‘appropriate amount’

Your ‘appropriate amount’ is worked out by adding your minimum guarantee amount to any additional amounts you are entitled to.

The minimum guarantee for a single person is £159.35 per week and for a couple is £243.25 per week.

There are certain additional amounts that can be added onto your minimum guarantee:

  • The Carer Addition is £34.95 per week and can be included if you are also receiving Carer’s Allowance or the underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.
  • The Severe Disability Addition is £62.45 per week for each person who qualifies and can be included if you (and your partner if you have one) receive a qualifying disability benefit (which includes the middle or the higher rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance), live alone (there are exceptions to this rule), and if no one is paid Carer’s Allowance or the carer element of Universal Credit for looking after you.

Note: If you just get the ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance for looking after someone, and don't claim Universal Credit with the carer element, this will not affect their entitlement to the Severe Disability Addition (or Severe Disability Premium if the person you care for is working age).


Working out your income

Most income you receive counts such as earnings (although generally the first £20 is disregarded), benefits (including Carer’s Allowance) and tax credits; State Pensions and personal pensions etc. However some income is disregarded including: DLA; PIP; Attendance Allowance; Child Benefit and any Child Maintenance you receive.

If you have capital (not including the home you live in) of over £10,000, £1 per week is taken into account as income for every £500 (or part of £500) you have over £10,000. This is called ‘tariff income’. For example if you have £12,000 in capital your ‘tariff income’ would be £4 per week.


Example of a Guarantee Pension Credit calculation

George is a single carer who is state pension age. His only income is his State Pension of £100 per week and he has £12,000 in capital. George also receives the 'underlying entitlement' to Carer’s Allowance for looking after his son.

George's ‘appropriate amount’ would be: Minimum guarantee (£159.35) + Carer Addition (£34.95) = £194.30 per week.

George's income would be: State Pension (£100 per week) + ‘tariff income’ (£4) = £104 per week.

'Appropriate amount’ (£194.30) – income (£104) = £90.30 per week Guarantee Pension Credit.

Savings Pension Credit

Savings Pension Credit rewards people who have a second pension (or other income) or modest savings. It is paid if you or your partner are 65 or over, but again your income and capital will affect the amount you get.

The maximum amounts per week are £13.20 for a single person or £14.90 for a couple, but not everyone who qualifies will get this much.

However if you reach state pension age on or after 6th April 2016 you will no longer be eligible for Savings Pension Credit, unless you are in a couple and your partner reached state pension age before 6th April 2016 and if you were getting Savings Pension Credit up to 6th April 2016.

Working out Savings Pension Credit is complicated. For a benefit check contact the Carers UK Adviceline.


How do I claim Pension Credit?

In England, Wales and Scotland you can phone the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

In Northern Ireland you can contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre Application Line on 0808 100 6165 or you can download of claim form online.

You can ask for Pension Credit to be backdated for up to three months.


What happens if there is a change in my circumstances?

If there is a change in your circumstances you must notify the relevant benefit department. In England, Wales and Scotland this is The Pension Service on 0345 606 0265 and in Northern Ireland this is the Northern Ireland Pension Centre on 0300 123 3014.


Which happens if I disagree with a decision?

If you disagree with a Pension Credit decision you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration. You generally have to do this within one month of the date on the decision letter. If you still disagree with the decision once the mandatory reconsideration has been carried out you can appeal the decision. Again you generally have to do this within one month of the date on the mandatory reconsideration decision letter.

For further information on challenging a decision you can view our challenging a benefit decision webpage.

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Support for Mortgage Interest / Housing Benefit

Support for Mortgage Interest

If you have an outstanding mortgage you may be able to get some help with your mortgage interest payments through Support for Mortgage Interest. This is paid as part of your Guarantee Pension Credit award and is normally paid directly to your mortgage provider. When you apply for Pension Credit let the Pension Credit claim line know you have an outstanding mortgage.

Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit is to help people on a low income with rent payments. Housing Benefit is means-tested which means it depends on your (and any partner’s) income and capital.

If you are receiving Guarantee Pension Credit you will get the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to (which may not cover all of your rent). If you are not receiving Guarantee Pension Credit the local council will carry out a calculation to work out how much Housing Benefit you are entitled to.

For further information on Housing Benefit you can view the Housing Benefit section of our website.

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Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Reduction is to help people on a low income with council tax payments. Council Tax Reduction is means-tested which means it depends on your (and any partner’s) income and capital.

If you are receiving Guarantee Pension Credit you should get the maximum amount of Council Tax Reduction that you are entitled to, which should cover all of your council tax bill. If you are not receiving Guarantee Pension Credit the local council will carry out a calculation to work out how much Council Tax Reduction you are entitled to.

For further information on Council Tax Reduction you can view the help with council tax section of our website.

Note: In Northern Ireland the situation is different. View the help with council tax section of our website or contact Carers NI (028 9043 9843) for further information.

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