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Carers Allowance

Who qualifies for Carer’s Allowance?

a mum sat with her arm around her son who has ED. She is looking at him whilst he is looking into the distance

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You might get it if you provide a certain amount of care to a child receiving particular disability benefits.

You qualify if you are aged 16 or over and provide at least 35 hours of care per week to someone who gets one of:

You must also meet certain tests linked to your immigration status and the length of time you have spent in the UK.

If you share the care of a disabled child with someone else and you each provide at least 35 hours a week care, only one of you can get Carer’s Allowance for that child. 

There are additional tests if you work or study. 

Can I work and still get Carer’s Allowance?

If you work, you must not earn more than the ‘earnings limit’ of £139 per week. 

In calculating your earnings for Carer’s Allowance purposes, you can make certain deductions from your gross wages. This not only includes any tax and national insurance you pay, but also: 

  • 50% of any contributions you make into a works or personal pension scheme. For example, if you pay £20 per week into a pension scheme, £10 will be deducted from your weekly earnings calculation.
  • Any alternative care costs you have that enables you to work. This covers not only any costs you have for your disabled child (regardless of their age) but also any childcare costs for other children you have aged under 16. Care costs count so long as you are not paying a close relative – there is no requirement that you pay a registered childcare provider. The maximum you can deduct for alternative care costs is half of your earnings.
  • Any expenses you have that are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in carrying out your work e.g. if you have to buy tools or specialist clothing or you have to travel between work sites (travel between work and home does not count).

If your earnings after these deductions are £139 per week or less, you can keep all of your Carer’s Allowance. If your earnings after these deductions are even 1p more, you will lose all of your Carer’s Allowance.

Can I study and still get Carer’s Allowance? 

If you study, you cannot get Carer’s Allowance if you are in full time education. Generally, you are treated as in full-time education if your course is described as full time by the course provider. There can be exceptions to this – for example, if you have been granted exemptions from parts of the course. 

Even if a course is described as part-time, you cannot get Carer’s Allowance if it involves 21 hours or more ‘supervised study’ each week. This is not just the hours of contact you have with teachers or tutors at your school, college or university. Work you do elsewhere is ‘supervised’ if it is study required to meet the reasonable expectations of the course. 

How much Carer’s Allowance will I get?

Carer’s Allowance as at April 2023 is £76.75 a week.

You can only get one award of Carer’s Allowance even if you are looking after more than one person. 

Claiming Carer’s Allowance can also help protect your right to a state retirement pension. This is because you will receive class 1 National Insurance credits for every week you get Carer’s Allowance. 

Carer’s allowance claimants in Scotland receive supplementary payments from the Scottish Government. This takes the form of a lump sum payment twice a year. 

How to claim Carer’s Allowance

close up of a childs hand holding an elderly persons hand while walking
Close up of father holding his daughter hand, so sweet,family time.

You can apply on-line by visiting the government’s Carer’s Allowance webpage. (In Northern Ireland you claim online at the NI Direct website.)

If you’d prefer to use a paper claim form, you can call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297. (To make a claim in Northern Ireland, call the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 587 0912.)

Carer’s Allowance should be backdated to the start of the DLA/PIP award. This is so long as you claim within three months of receiving the decision awarding your child DLA or PIP.

Will a claim for Carer’s Allowance affect the benefits of the person I’m looking after?

So long as you claim as the carer of a dependent child, a claim for Carer’s Allowance will not have any impact on the benefits that they receive. 

Claiming Carer’s Allowance for a disabled adult is also not normally a problem. However if they are a disabled adult who receives a payment known as the ‘severe disability premium’ as part of a means-tested benefit claim, they will be left worse off if you get Carer’s Allowance for them. 

Please visit https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance for further information.