Carer’s Allowance: Your 5 top questions answered 

6 mins read

Thursday 14 April 2022

Tags: q and a, carer's allowance

Almost 100 parent carers took part in our recent Facebook Q&A about Carer’s Allowance, making it one of our most popular sessions yet! 

In light of this week’s changes to Carer’s Allowance rules and pay rates, we wanted to share some of the top questions we received during the Q&A to help those who could not take part.

Parent carers can read the remaining questions and answers by flicking through the Q&A post in Contact’s private Facebook group.

For more information about Carer’s Allowance, take a look at our online factsheet.

1. I am disabled myself but also a carer. Can I claim Carer’s Allowance if I also get PIP for myself? 

Yes, someone who is on Carer’s Allowance can also get Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It’s also possible for someone who gets both Carer’s Allowance and PIP to have someone claim Carer’s Allowance as their carer. 

Ultimately it will all come down to the benefits office in question accepting that the carer, with their own disabilities, continues to meet the criteria for both the carers and disability benefits — in other words, that they are able to provide 35 hours care to another person, despite the limitations placed upon them by their own disability. 

Sometimes, if someone on PIP lodges a claim for Carer’s Allowance, this may prompt the PIP Unit to want to review the carer’s own PIP award to make sure that the 35 hours of care they are providing is not an indication that their own health problems have improved. 

However, please also be aware that where someone claims Carer’s Allowance for another adult (rather than for a disabled child) this can lead to the disabled adult losing a means-tested benefit payment called the severe disability payment. If you are thinking of claiming Carer’s Allowance for a disabled adult and that disabled adult is on a means-tested benefit, seek specialist advice before doing so, such as your local Citizens Advice.

2. My income takes me slightly over the Carer’s Allowance earnings threshold. What deductions could I make to my earnings calculation in order to qualify? 

When calculating your earnings for the purposes of Carer’s Allowance, any income tax or national insurance contributions you pay are deducted, along with half of any contributions you make towards a workplace or personal pension. You can choose how much you pay into a pension scheme. 

You can also deduct expenses that are incurred ‘wholly and exclusively in carrying out your work’, such as the costs of buying a special uniform or protective clothing. However, if it is clothing that could also be worn outside of work – e.g. a white shirt and black trousers – you will not be allowed to deduct these as expenses. 

If, because of your work, you have to pay someone to look after the person you care for, or look after any child of yours who is under 16, you can deduct those payments from your earnings. The maximum amount that you can deduct for these alternative care costs is half your what would otherwise be your earnings. You cannot deduct anything for alternative care costs if the person you are paying is a close relative. 

3. My partner just received his first payment as a term-time worker. Based on that pay, he won’t go over the Carer’s Allowance earnings threshold. Should we tell the Carer’s Allowance Unit about the job now, or wait until his next payment to see if he’s still under the threshold? 

The safest thing is to keep the Carer’s Allowance Unit informed of any changes in his earnings. You can do this by calling them on 0800 731 0297. It is the Carer’s Allowance Unit’s job to calculate your partner’s average earnings, not yours, so they will need details of his earnings to do this. Where someone’s earnings vary, then the Carer’s Allowance Unit is supposed to average their earnings out over a recognisable cycle – if there is one. If there is no pattern, then official guidance suggests that they should average his earnings out over 5 weeks or any other period that they believe gives the most accurate figure for average earnings. 

However, there are some special rules that sometimes allow a term-time worker to have their earnings averaged over the term time weeks only, with Carer’s Allowance being paid during the holidays where they have no pay. However, those rules only apply to term-time workers who receive no pay at all during school holidays. 

4. I’m self-employed and work part-time with varying monthly pay. I missed out on six months of Carer’s Allowance because my earnings went over the threshold on a couple of occasions. What can I do about this? 

Unfortunately, the rules governing the averaging of a self-employed person’s earnings can be very complex. If someone has a well-established business with a year’s worth of accounts, the Carer’s Allowance Unit will normally average out over that previous year’s figure. However, different rules apply where someone has a new business or where there has been a major change in someone’s trading that means the previous year’s figures are no longer relevant. Where it is a new business, they will tend to ask you for details of your earnings and allowable expenses on an ongoing basis and repeatedly recalculate your earnings on a month-by-month basis. 

We are sorry to hear that your claim was closed without you being told. This should not have happened. If the Carer’s Allowance Unit decided that your average earnings were too high to get Carer’s Allowance, they should have sent you a written decision stating this. This is important in case you disagreed with their calculation and wished to challenge this. 

It sounds like your case is complex, so it would be a good idea to seek detailed advice from a local service such as your local Citizens Advice.

5. Are there any benefits to receiving Carer’s Allowance instead of the Universal Credit carer element?

Yes! Even though your Carer’s Allowance payment is deducted in full from your Universal Credit payment (in other words, each £1 of Carer’s Allowance will reduce your Universal Credit payment by £1), claiming Carer’s Allowance can help protect your right to a state retirement pension.

This is because Carer’s Allowance entitles you to a class 1 national insurance contribution, which is paid automatically for you and eventually helps towards your state pension or some other contribution-based benefits.