Carer’s Allowance explained
By Jane Stanfield, Associate Practitioner
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit of £76.75* a week which you can claim if you are providing regular care to someone.
- It is one of the most underclaimed benefits
- It is not means-tested but there is a maximum earnings limit
- If you are in receipt of carers allowance you will be credited with national insurance payments so that your state pension rights are protected
- It is taxable if your total income reaches the income tax thresholds
- If the person you care for has a “severe disability premium” in their calculation for a means-tested benefit, then they will lose that premium if you receive carers allowance
Qualifying Conditions for Carer’s Allowance
- You regularly care for at least 35 hours a week
- for someone who receives one of these disability benefits
- disability living allowance (middle or high rate of the care component)
- personal independence payment (daily living component)
- attendance allowance (at either rate)
- constant attendance allowance (of £83.10* or more, paid with the industrial injuries/war pensions schemes)
- armed forces independence payment
- You are over 16
- You are not in full time education
- You do not earn over £139* a week (net of tax, national insurance payments, half a contribution to personal or occupational pension and some expenses) – the Maximum Earnings rule
- You are not in receipt of an “overlapping benefit”
Maximum Earnings Rule
It is important to remember that some expenses can be deducted from your income which might bring your weekly earnings below the limit and allow you to claim. These include expenses which are purely related to your work such as equipment, special clothing, travel between workplaces if you are not reimbursed for this, but not travel between home and work. If you pay for someone other than a close relative to provide replacement care to the person you care for while you are at work then these payments too can be deducted, up to a maximum of half your net earnings.
Occupational and personal pensions are not counted as earnings for the earnings limit and are also not overlapping benefits.
Overlapping benefits are those which are in the same “earnings replacement benefits” group as carers allowance. The most significant of these is the state pension. If you are in receipt of a state pension which is higher than the carers allowance rate of £67.60* then you will not be able to get carers allowance.
Even if you receive an overlapping benefit, if you are on a low income – either as a single person or a couple – then you may still be able to get the carer premium on a means-tested benefit such as pension credit, which will increase the amount of that benefit you get. A carer premium is an amount in your means-test calculation which reflects your additional responsibilities as a carer. It can also help with housing benefit, council tax allowance, and disabled facilities calculations.
To get the carer premium you have to make a claim for carers allowance even if you receive an overlapping benefit; there is a specific form for those in receipt of state pension. Go to this link and scroll down for the correct form.
Scotland now adds “Carers Allowance Supplement” to Carers Allowance automatically twice a year
If you are of working age and, having read the qualifying conditions above, you feel that although you are a carer you will not qualify for carers allowance, it may still be possible for you to apply for ‘carers credits’ to protect your national insurance record.
*correct as at April 2021