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Our welfare rights adviser responds to common FAQs about
claiming Carer's Allowance in our podcast series.
Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You might be
able to get it if your child is on the care component of Disability
Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate or if they get the
daily living component of Personal Independence Payment.
It is not means tested so it does not matter what savings you
have, and most forms of income are ignored. However if you work you
can only get Carer's Allowance if your earnings after deductions
are no more than £120 per week.
You qualify for this benefit if you provide at least 35 hours of
care per week to someone who gets one of:
You also must 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.
If you work you must not earn more than the 'earnings limit' of
£120 per week.
In calculating your earnings, you can make certain deductions
from your gross wages. This not only includes any tax and national
insurance you pay but also:
If your earnings vary they should be averaged out, although the
period used is at the discretion of the DWP. If you are
self-employed your average earnings are normally based on your last
year's accounts unless there has been a significant change in your
Only your earnings are counted. If you have a partner who works
their earnings are ignored.
If you get Universal Credit, and your earnings are too high to
get Carer's Allowance, you should still qualify for an extra
Universal Credit payment called the carer addition.
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 and unable to get Carer's
Allowance if your course is described as full time by the course
provider. However there can be exceptions to this - for example if
you have been granted exemptions from parts of the
Even if a course is described as
part-time, you still cannot get Carer's Allowance if it involves 21
hours or more 'supervised study' each week. Supervised study does
not just mean the hours of contact you have with teachers or tutors
at your school, college or university. Work that you do elsewhere
e.g. at home is also treated as 'supervised' if it is study that is
required to meet the reasonable expectations of the
Carer's Allowance is £64.60 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
Carer's allowance claimants in Scotland receive supplementary
payments from the Scottish Government. This is done by a lump sum
payment twice a year.
Means tested benefits
If you are claiming a means-tested benefit such as Income
Support, Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, any Carer's Allowance
you get is taken into account as income when calculating these
other means-tested benefits. However to ensure you are better off
an extra amount of £36 per week known as the 'carer premium' (carer
addition in Universal Credit) is added to that means tested
You cannot be paid Carer's Allowance at the same time as certain
other non-means-tested benefits like contributory Employment and
Support Allowance or State Pension.
However it is still worthwhile making a claim for Carer's
Allowance in these circumstances. By making a claim you will
establish an "underlying entitlement" to Carer's Allowance. This
means you will be counted as a carer for means-tested benefits, and
these will be calculated more generously with a carer premium being
added into your payments.
Carer's Allowance is treated as income for tax credits purposes.
Despite this you are usually left better off after making a claim.
This is because the amount of Carer's Allowance paid is greater
than any drop in tax credits.
In order to avoid an overpayment it is important that you let
the Tax Credit Office know that you are getting Carer's
Will a claim for Carer's Allowance effect 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
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.
You can apply on-line using the government's Carer's
Allowance webpage. In Northern Ireland you claim online at the
NI Direct website.
Alternatively if you would 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
Carer's Allowance should be backdated to the start of the
DLA/PIP award so long as you claim within 3 months of receiving the
decision awarding your child DLA or PIP.
Although the Carer's Allowance earnings limit will
increase from £120 to £123 a week from April 2019, the National
Living Wage will also rise to £8.21 per hour. This means parents
working 15 hours or more on the National Living Wage will find that
their wages are over the Carer's Allowance earnings limit - unless
they have deductions that can be made from their earnings.
Read our advice if you think
you might be affected.