Carer’s Allowance, your State Pension, plus other benefits
Many people don’t see themselves as unpaid carers or realise what support they’re entitled to when busy with caring responsibilities. Time becomes more precious than ever and you can feel as though you don't have enough time to do any research.
It’s important to make sure you’re getting the maximum support you’re entitled to, especially when you reach State Pension age. We share some tips and suggestions in this section.
Carer's Allowance, your State Pension and Pension Credit
Your State Pension
There is no upper age limit for claiming Carer’s Allowance, but it is not possible to claim the full amount of Carer’s Allowance and your State Pension at the same time. However, you might still be able to get some extra money in recognition of your caring role.
You can get the difference paid in Carer’s Allowance. For example, based on the current rate of Carer’s Allowance per week (£76.75 2023/24), if your State Pension is £66 per week you can get £10.75 per week in Carer's Allowance.
This means you will not be eligible to be paid Carer’s Allowance. However, it is still worth applying as you may be able to get what’s called an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance. This is where it is agreed that you meet the criteria for Carer’s Allowance, and you will be sent a letter of ‘underlying entitlement’.
This tells the benefit agencies that you are still a carer, and because of this it may mean certain benefits you’re already receiving increase (if they’re means-tested, ie based on your earnings, income or capital) or you may be eligible to receive certain benefits for the first time.
You may be able to claim a benefit called Pension Credit instead.
Pension Credit is a benefit you may be able to claim to top up your weekly income if you have reached State Pension age. You would have to have income below a certain amount. It’s means-tested so based on your earnings, income or capital.
There is no upper capital limit, but any savings and capital you have over £10,000 will impact how much Pension Credit you might receive.
The State Pension age is gradually rising. You can check your qualifying State Pension age here.
Pension Credit has two parts: Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Pension Credit.
Guarantee Pension Credit can top up your weekly income to £201.05 if you're single or £306.85 if you have a joint income with a partner (2023/24).
Savings Pension Credit was an extra amount awarded for those who have reached retirement with some modest savings. For single people, you could get a top up to £15.94 per week or £17.84 per week for couples.
As a carer, you may qualify for an additional amount. If you are severely disabled or have certain other outgoings or responsibilities, you may also be able to claim more.
You could try using the GOV.UK Pension Credit calculator to get an idea of how much you might be able to get if eligible.
This is only available to people who reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016. Single pensioners and couples can still make new claims for this if they reached State Pension age before this date, but had not claimed earlier.
You must also have savings and income below a certain amount to qualify.
- If you have both reached State Pension age, you can claim Pension Credit. (The rules changed on 15 May 2019.)
- If only one of you has reached State Pension age, you would not be able to claim Pension Credit but could instead claim Universal Credit.
- However, if one of you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, you may still qualify for Saving Pension Credit.
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.
If you wish, you can start applying four months before you reach State Pension age. You can also ask for Pension Credit to be backdated for up to three months.
If you disagree with the decision, you can look to challenge it – see our webpage on Challenging a benefit decision for more details.
If you’re receiving a qualifying benefit, you may be able to get a Support for Mortgage Interest loan to help pay towards the interest on your mortgage repayments. It may also be used towards interest repayments on repairs or improvements you’ve made to your home. Find out more on the GOV.UK website.
Housing Benefit aims to help people on a low income with rent payments. Housing Benefit is means-tested which means it is based on your overall household income and capital.
If you are receiving Guarantee Pension Credit you should 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, a calculation will be carried out to work out how much Housing Benefit you are entitled to.
For further information on Housing Benefit, take a look at our Housing Benefit page.
You may be able to receive some help towards the cost of your Council Tax bill if you are on a low income.
If you’re receiving Guarantee Pension Credit, you could receive the maximum amount of Council Tax Support/Reduction, which should cover all of your Council Tax bill. (Exemptions to this apply.)
If you’re not receiving Guarantee Pension Credit, you could still receive a discount. Other discounts and exemptions may also apply. See our page on Help with Council Tax if you live in England, Scotland or Wales.
There’s a different scheme in Northern Ireland offering rate relief. Find out more on the Housing Rights website.