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Benefits for carers who are pension age

Most carers who are pension age will be receiving a State Pension. If you've reached State Pension age, there may be other benefits you can claim.


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


Other than a State Pension, there are a variety of benefits that you may be able to claim if you are caring.

These include Carer's Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction/Support (Rate Relief in Northern Ireland). If you are part of a couple and one of you is under State Pension Age, you may also be eligible for Universal Credit.

In addition, you may be able to get assistance for mortgage interest through the Support for Mortgage Interest loan.

 You can use this benefits calculator to find out what you may be entitled to: carersuk.org/benefits-calculator.


Carer's Allowance and the State Pension

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 the State Pension are both 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 £67.25 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 £17.25 per week in Carer's Allowance.

If your State Pension is more than Carer's Allowance (more than £67.25 per week), you cannot be paid any Carer's Allowance. However it might still be worth making a claim, as you can still get an 'underlying entitlement' to Carer's Allowance.

What is an 'underlying entitlement' to Carer's Allowance?

This means that you meet the conditions for Carer’s Allowance, but cannot be paid the benefit because it overlaps with another benefit you're receiving. If this is the case for you, you should be sent a letter confirming your 'underlying entitlement' to Carer’s Allowance.

This can be financially beneficial as it can increase any means-tested benefits you are currently getting, or it could mean that 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 an amount called the Carer Addition will be included when working out whether you are entitled to means-tested benefits.


Note: The State Pension age is now the same for both women and men, and is gradually increasing. You can check your qualifying State Pension age here.

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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.

Pension Credit has two parts: Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Pension Credit. (You may not be eligible for Savings Credit if you reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016.)

If only one of you is over State Pension age, you will need to claim Universal Credit instead of Pension Credit. If you are both over State Pension age, you can claim 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 £173.75 per week and for a couple is £265.20 per week.

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

  • The Carer Addition is £37.50 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 £66.95 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 any rate of 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.
  • You may also get an additional amount of Pension Credit if you’re responsible for any children or young people who normally live with you. This is called the ‘child addition’ and is paid at £64.82 for an only child or the eldest child born before the 6th of April 2017, and £54.32 for other children.

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 entitlement to the Severe Disability Addition for the person you care for. (This is called the Severe Disability Premium if the person you care for is of working age.) 


Working out your income

Most income you receive counts, such as earnings (although generally the first £20 of earnings is disregarded), benefits (including Carer’s Allowance), 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 savings or 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. This means £4 per week would be classed as a weekly income when working out your entitlement.


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 (£173.75) + Carer Addition (£37.50) = £211.25 per week.

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

'Appropriate amount’ (£211.25) minus – income (£104) = £107.25 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 over State Pension age, but again your income and capital will affect the amount you get.

The maximum amounts per week are £13.97 for a single person or £15.62 for a couple, but not everyone who qualifies will get this much.

However you will not normally be eligible for this credit if you reach state pension age on or after 6th April 2016.

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


How do I claim Pension Credit?

In England, Wales and Scotland you can phone the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234. You can also currently download and print a form to send by post, and some people can make a claim online. For further details visit this page: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim

In Northern Ireland you can contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre Application Line on 0808 100 6165 or you can download a 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 before or as the change occurs. In England, Wales and Scotland, this is The Pension Service on 0800 731 0469 and in Northern Ireland, this is the Northern Ireland Pension Centre on 0800 587 0892.


Which happens if I disagree with a decision?

If you disagree with a Pension Credit decision, you can ask for them to look again at the decision they made. This is called 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

Before 5th April 2018 you could have had some help with your mortgage interest payments through Support for Mortgage Interest. This was a benefit paid to your mortgage provider as part of your Guarantee Pension Credit award. However this is no longer available from 6th April 2018.

Anyone who was getting Support for Mortgage Interest or makes a new claim for a means tested benefit who has an outstanding mortgage from 6th April 2018 onwards will be offered Support for Mortgage Interest as a loan instead of a benefit payment.

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/Support

Council Tax Reduction or Council Tax Support is to help people on a low income with Council Tax payments. Council Tax Reduction/Support is a means-tested benefit which means the amount you may receive, depends on the benefits you might be getting, as well as your income and capital (and any partner’s).

If you are receiving Guarantee Pension Credit you should get the maximum amount of Council Tax Reduction/Support 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/Support you are entitled to.

For further information on Council Tax Reduction/Support, 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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