Carers Allowance – What it is and how to get it

Carers Allowance - What it is and how to get it

Carers Allowance pays you to care for your loved ones. It enables you to spend the time you need, caring for your elderly parent, or child, that need significant levels of care.

To qualify, you must:

  • Look after that person for at least 35 hours a week
  • Not be in full-time education or studying for more than 21 hours a week
  • Earn less than £123 a week, after deductions (2019/20)
  • Satisfy UK presence and residence conditions
  • Be aged 16 or over
  • Care for someone who receives the higher-rate or middle-rate care component of:
    • Disability Living Allowance,
    • Personal Independence Payment daily living component
    • Attendance Allowance

It does not count towards your benefits and is not means-tested, however, it is counted as income when submitting your annual taxes and can impact your state pension.

Making a claim

To claim, simply click here, and to check the most up-to-date criteria, click here.

Before you apply make sure you have your:

  • National Insurance number (if you have a partner you’ll need theirs too)
  • Bank or building society details (unless you get a State Pension)
  • Employment details and latest payslip if you’re working
  • P45 if you’ve recently finished work
  • Course details if you are studying
  • Details of any expenses, for example, pension contributions or the cost of caring for your children or the disabled person while you’re at work

You also need details of the person you care for. You need their:

  • Date of birth and address
  • National Insurance number if they are 16 or over
  • Disability Living Allowance reference if they’re under 16

How long does it all take?

This depends on how you apply:

  • If you apply online, you should receive an answer within 3 to 5 days.
  • If you apply by post, it can take up to 4 weeks.

You can also claim up to 3 months in arrears, so if you have been caring for a loved one, and qualify, you can receive up to 3 months of what amounts to back pay.

What can you use the money for?

The money is being paid to you as a carer, so you can use is on what you like. Many people use at least part of it, to acquire part-time or respite care. Click here to learn about how to find a great carer.

In addition, you may still qualify for additional care, via direct payments or directly from the council. Be sure to request a carers assessment, which you can find out about by clicking here.

There are also other benefits which you may qualify for.

Carer’s Credit

Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit towards your State Pension while you’re not making any contributions due to your caring role. You may qualify for Carer’s Credit if you are:

  • Aged 16 or over
  • Aren’t yet receiving your State Pension
  • Don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance
  • Spend at least 20 hours a week caring for someone
  • Your loved one receives a benefit because of their illness or disability such as:
    • Attendance Allowance
    • Disability Living Allowance
    • Personal Independence Payment. 
  • If the person you’re caring for doesn’t get one of these benefits then you might still be able to claim by completing a ‘Care Certificate’.

Carer Premium

You might be entitled to an additional Carer Premium if you already receive:

  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are a carer and are in receipt of these benefits or even if you are not if you care for yourself and have mobility problems you may still be entitled to this.

Blue badge parking

Blue badge parking permits and allows drivers with mobility issues, or drivers whose passengers have mobility issues, to park in more convenient locations, such as disabled parking bays.

You can also park on single or double lines for up to three hours. Click here to learn more about this and how to apply.

Disabled Persons Railcard

The Disabled Persons Railcard entitles the cardholder and a carer or companion one third off most adult rail fares on the National Rail network.

 You can buy one at any staffed ticket office or apply online by clicking here.

Challenging a decision

If you disagree with the decision made,  you can ask for it to be looked at again known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. If you still disagree with the further decision you can then appeal to an independent tribunal.

The time limits are very  strict, you will usually have around 4 weeks to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice. Read more here for details on how to access that advice.

You must always report a change of circumstances

If you know about a change that might affect the amount of Carer’s Allowance you ought to receive, you must tell the DWP as soon as you can. You don’t want to miss out on any additional payments, however, if circumstances improve, and you don’t tell the DWP, then you will be on the hook to pay it back, as this is fraud. Click here to learn more about how to notify them.

For further information, please check out some of the resources below: