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Carer's Allowance

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F30

What is carers allowance?

Carer's allowance is a benefit for people who regularly spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person. You don’t have to be related to that person or be living with them.

You can still qualify for carer’s allowance even if you have never been employed or paid national insurance contributions. Carer’s allowance is not means tested, which means it is not affected by your income or savings (although there is an earnings limit). It is taxable. Any savings you have do not affect your carer’s allowance.

What are the rules?

To get carer's allowance you must:

  • be caring for a person who is receiving a qualifying benefit (see below);
  • be aged 16 or over;
  • be caring for at least 35 hours a week;
  • not be in full-time education (21 hours a week or more);
  • not be earning more than £116 a week (£120 from April 2018), if you have a part-time job (see below); and
  • be present and resident in Great Britain (see below) and not be subject to immigration control.

Qualifying benefits

The following are ‘qualifying benefits’ for carer’s allowance:

  • the daily living component of personal independence payment;
  • either the highest or the middle rate of the care component of disability living allowance;
  • attendance allowance;
  • constant attendance allowance (of £67.90 or more) paid with the Industrial Injuries or War Pensions schemes; or
  • armed forces independence payment.

How much do I get?

The rate is £62.70 (£64.60 from April 2018) per week for you.

Carer’s allowance can continue to be paid for up to 8 weeks after the person you care for has died.

Note: Scotland intends to increase carer’s allowance in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance from summer 2018, backdated to April 2018. This is part of a package of new support for carers

How do I claim?

You claim on form DS700 (DS700(SP) if you get a state pension), available by calling 0345 608 4321 (textphone: 0345 604 5312). They can also be downloaded from: www.gov.uk/government/publications/carers-allowance-claim-form. You can claim online at: www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/how-to-claim  

Call 0300 123 3356 (textphone 028 9031 1092) in Northern Ireland.

If you are over state pension age

If your state pension is less than your carer’s allowance, you will be entitled to a top up of carer’s allowance to that amount.

If your state pension is more than your carer’s allowance, you won't actually get carer’s allowance, but you will still have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to it. This may help you to get an increase in any means-tested benefit you are receiving, such as pension credit (see below).

What if I am working?

If you get carer’s allowance, you are allowed to work but must not earn more than £116 (£120 from April 2018) a week after tax, national insurance contributions and half of any pension contributions you make have been taken into account.

If you pay someone to look after either the person you care for or any of your children who are under the age of 16, you can have these payments offset against up to half of any net earnings you receive. You cannot do this if the payments are made to a close relative. A close relative is the parent, partner, son, daughter, brother or sister of you or the person you care for.

Carer’s allowance and means-tested benefits

If you are entitled to carer’s allowance, you will get a ‘carer premium’ included with any means-tested benefit (ie income support, income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), income-based jobseeker's allowance or housing benefit) that you receive. If you are on pension credit, you can get a similar ‘additional amount for carers’ included in the pension credit award.

If you receive another benefit, such as incapacity benefit, state pension or contributory ESA, which prevents you actually being paid carer’s allowance, you can still get the carer premium/additional amount included in your means-tested benefit.

If you are paid carer’s allowance, it may stop the person you care for from getting a ‘severe disability premium’ (SDP) as part of their means-tested benefit. If you are not actually being paid carer’s allowance, because you are on another benefit, you can still get the carer premium/additional amount and the person you care for can keep their SDP. Seek advice if you think that your claim for carer’s allowance may adversely affect the benefit of the person who you care for.

Carer’s allowance and universal credit

You can get a ‘carer amount’ included in your universal credit award if you are caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week.

If someone else is getting universal credit which includes a carer amount for looking after a person you also look after, you cannot claim carer’s allowance as well (and vice versa). You and the other carer must decide who should claim which benefit.

For more information, see Factsheet F55 - universal credit.

The residence and presence tests

To qualify for carer’s allowance, you must satisfy the residence and presence tests. For this, you must:

  • be present in Great Britain* and have been present in Great Britain* for two out of the last three years before claiming; and
  • be habitually resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Ireland or the Isle of Man (see below).

'Present' means physically present in Great Britain*. There are rules that may allow you to be treated as present during a temporary absence. 

* or Northern Ireland, if you live there

There is no legal definition of 'habitual residence'. Relevant factors are where you normally live, where you expect to live in future, your reasons for coming to this country, the length of time spent abroad before you came here, and any ties you still have with the country where you have come from.

For more information see our Disability Rights Handbook.

Where can I get more help or information?

This factsheet is a basic overview of carer's allowance. You can find out more detailed information in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK.

You can get help and information at your local advice centre, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

19 December 2017