If you are spending at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with an immunodeficiency then you could be missing out on this benefit that could make a big difference to your weekly income. Carer’s allowance is a little publicised and widely under-claimed benefit, and many more people could be claiming it.
There are some key eligibility criteria that you need to meet and you may not be paid the allowance if you are receiving certain other benefits. It is also important to note that this benefit counts as taxable income.
What is carer’s allowance?
Carer’s allowance is a benefit you might be able to claim if you care for someone who is sick or disabled.
How much is carer’s allowance?
Carer’s allowance is currently paid at the rate of £69.70 per week.
Who can claim carer’s allowance?
In order to qualify for carer’s allowance the disabled person must fit certain rules and so must the carer:
The disabled person must be in receipt of:
a) either rate of the daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP) or
b) either rate of Attendance Allowance (AA) or
c) the middle or higher rate of the care component of disability living allowance (DLA).
You, as the carer, must:
- Be aged over 16
- Not be in full time education
- Have lived in the UK for 2 out of the last 3 years with no restriction on claiming benefits
- Be caring for a disabled or sick person for at least 35 hours each week
You do not need to live with the person affected by an immunodeficiency or be a member of their family.
What if I care for more than one person?
If you care for more than one person with an immunodeficiency, or other disability, or other long-term health condition you will only be entitled to one payment of carer’s allowance. You cannot add the hours up if you have a caring role for more than one person.
Is carer’s allowance means-tested?
It doesn’t matter whether you, as the carer, have savings or other income (except if you earn more than £102 per week from working). Carer’s allowance is taxable.
Can I claim if I am getting DLA, PIP or AA myself?
There is nothing to prevent you from claiming carer’s allowance if you are sick or disabled yourself if you meet the conditions. However, we would suggest you seek advice as if you are providing 35 hours of care as your own benefits may be reassessed depending on the condition you are claiming for and what you have said you can and cannot do yourself. The care you provide can be supervision as well as assistance, so it may be perfectly possible to be a carer alongside having your own health difficulties.
How can I claim carer’s allowance?
You can apply for carer’s allowance by telephoning the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 6084321 or by downloading a form from https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance where you will also find more information on carer’s allowance.
What if I already get another benefit myself?
If you are a carer who qualifies for carer’s allowance, you may not be paid the allowance if you are receiving certain other benefits.
- Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Maternity Allowance
- Bereavement or widow’s benefits
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- State Retirement Pension
If you are one of the people affected by this rule you can still make a claim for carer’s allowance. You will receive a letter telling you that you qualify for carer’s allowance but that you will not be paid any money because of the other benefits that you are already getting. Even though you won’t get this extra money it can be worthwhile claiming as it may increase payments of some means-tested benefits. This is called having an ‘underlying entitlement’ to carer’s allowance.
How does it affect my other benefits?
Firstly, carer’s allowance does count as income for means-tested benefits, so you must let all the departments who pay you benefits or tax credits know about it.
However, it can still be worth claiming it, if you also qualify for means-tested benefits such as; Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance the calculation of these benefits can include an extra amount (a premium) because you are a carer who is eligible for carer’s allowance. This extra amount will be included in your means-tested benefits whether you receive carer’s allowance or have an underlying entitlement to carer’s allowance.
You will need to notify the Department for Work and Pensions and the local authority when you have been awarded carer’s allowance or have an underlying entitlement to it. You will need to provide your award letter as evidence.
What if I don’t already get a means tested benefit?
If you are not already receiving Income Support, Housing Benefit, Pension Credit or Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance but your income is still very low you may qualify for one or more of these benefits now that you have been awarded carer’s allowance or if have an underlying entitlement.
Will carer’s allowance affect the disabled person’s benefits?
In most cases carer’s allowance will not affect the benefits of the person you are caring for.
If the person you are caring for is receiving extra means-tested benefit because they get the ‘severe disability premium’ described above, then they will lose this premium if their carer is paid carer’s allowance.You should make sure you get advice before claiming carer’s allowance in this situation.
Is there any other advantage to claiming carer’s allowance?
If you qualify for carer’s allowance, you will also receive automatic National Insurance Credits which can help you to have a good record of contributions when you claim your State Retirement Pension.
Also, if you are entitled to carer’s allowance, you are also able to claim Income Support. This may be a better option for you, especially if you have a disability/long-term health condition yourself, as the disability premium can be paid with Income support but it cannot be part of your Employment and Support Allowance payment. You may need a better-off calculation from an Advice Agency or Welfare Rights Adviser to help you make a decision.