Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit paid to carers and is currently worth £76.75 a week (2023/24 rates).
There are several criteria that carers must meet to be eligible, including;
- you are providing care for at least 35 hours per week.
- you are aged over 16
- you are not in full-time education
- the person you care for must be getting a qualifying benefit
- you are not earning more than £139 (after tax and some allowable expenses)
- you usually need to have lived in the UK for 2 out of the last 3 years and have no restrictions on claiming benefits
You cannot be paid Carer’s Allowance as well as State Pension – however, see FAQs for fuller details
To qualify, you do not need to be living with or related to the person you care for.
Carer’s Allowance is not classed as a means-tested benefit, therefore savings and other income do not prevent you from getting it. See FAQs for what is meant by ‘other income’.
If the person you care for is claiming a disability premium as part of their means-tested benefit, you should check in case this is affected by your claiming Carer’s Allowance.
What is a qualifying benefit?
The person you care for needs to be getting one of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) (middle or high-rate care)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component at either rate
- Attendance Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
How many hours do I need to be caring for?
You need to be caring for 35 hours a week for one person. If you care for more than one person you can’t add the hours together to make 35. The 35 hours can include:
- time spent physically helping the person you care e.g. helping them wash, dress or move around
- keeping an eye on someone to make sure they are safe
- provide emotional support, encouragement and prompting
- doing practical tasks like cooking and cleaning, taking them to appointments and doing the shopping
Can I work and claim Carer’s Allowance?
You can do some work whilst claiming Carer’s Allowance but you can only earn up to £139 a week after tax, national insurance contributions and half of any pension contributions have been taken into account. If because of your work, you pay someone else (other than a close relative) to look after the person you care for or your children, you may be able to deduct some of this from your earnings to get below the £139 limit. There is more detailed information about working whilst claiming Carer’s Allowance from Carers UK.
The work that you do may be employed or self-employed. Make sure you keep all your wage slips and accounts, including expenses if you are self-employed. The Carer’s Allowance Unit will probably want to see evidence of your earnings and any relevant payments. In some cases, for example, when your earnings vary they may want to see details on an ongoing basis.
Always tell the Carers Allowance Unit about any changes in employment and earnings to avoid overpayments.
Payments that do not count as earnings for the purposes of a Carer’s Allowance claim include:
- money received from an occupational or private pension
- contributions towards your living or accommodation costs from someone you live with (they cannot be a tenant or boarder)
- the first £20 a week and 50% of the rest of any income you make from someone boarding in your home
- a loan or advance payment from your employer
How to claim
You can claim on form DS700 (or form DS700 SP if you get a state pension). This is available from the Department of Work and Pensions by calling 0800 731 0297 or it can be downloaded and filled in online on the government website.
What is the carer premium, carer element and carer addition?
If you are of working age and are being paid a means-tested benefit when you claim Carer’s Allowance, the amount of Carer’s Allowance is deducted from your means-tested benefit. However, you will then be awarded an additional amount to your means-tested benefit – called either carer premium or carer element, depending on the benefit – so you will be better off.
The extra amount paid to income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, income-based Employment Support Allowance, Income Support and housing benefit, is called the ‘carer premium’.
The extra amount paid with Universal Credit is called the ‘carer element’. You may be paid this carer element without claiming Carer’s Allowance as long as you meet the same eligibility criteria and you are not being paid certain other elements.
An extra amount for carers included in a Pension Credit calculation is called ‘carer addition’. See more below about what happens with Carers Allowance when you reach state pension age.
What if I am over the state retirement pension age?
When you get State Pension you will not be paid Carer’s Allowance as well. You can be paid whichever is the greater benefit – which, in most cases, is the State Pension. If you have been claiming Carer’s Allowance, it will stop when your State Pension starts.
Instead, you will have what is known as an ‘underlying entitlement’. The advantage, for some, of this ‘underlying entitlement’ can be that a carer addition is included in the calculation for Pension Credit or any other means-tested benefit that you are entitled to.
Mark and his wife both get their State Pension. They had applied for pension credit in the past but had slightly too much income to qualify.
When his wife became ill, Mark looked into claiming Carer’s Allowance. He was disappointed that he could not get paid Carer’s Allowance as his state retirement pension pays more than Carer’s Allowance.
However, he found out that it was still worth claiming as he would then have an underlying entitlement. This meant he could now get pension credit as a carer’s addition would be included in the calculation for this.
If I am not working and not paying national insurance, how can I protect my State Pension?
When you are paid Carer’s Allowance, you get Class 1 national insurance credits These count towards your State Pension and may help you qualify for some other benefits, for example, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance.
With most other means-tested benefits, you will get Class 3 national insurance credits which count towards your State Pension only.
If you cannot claim any of these benefits, check to see if you are eligible for Carer’s Credits.
Can I claim any other benefits?
You may be able to claim other benefits in addition to Carer’s Allowance. Carers UK provides information about this in their factsheet on Carer’s Allowance.
At Carers Support Centre we have had contact with several carers who have missed out on claiming means-tested benefits as they didn’t realise they could get benefits in addition to Carer’s Allowance. If you only get Carer’s Allowance and have savings below £16,000 it is always worth checking entitlement to means-tested benefits.
Mustafa had to give up work to care for his wife. He claimed Carer’s Allowance when she was awarded personal independence payment but was struggling to manage financially, particularly with mortgage payments. He later found out he could get income support which included an amount towards his mortgage.
I have been told I can’t get paid Carer’s Allowance as it overlaps with another benefit I get. What does this mean?
Some people may be getting a benefit that ‘overlaps’ with Carer’s Allowance. This means that they can’t usually get both but could have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance which could increase, or give entitlement to, a means-tested benefit.
Jenny was caring for her mother and became unwell herself. The pressure of caring and trying to carry on working when she was ill became too much. She claimed Contribution Based Employment and Support Allowance (CB ESA), and when she contacted us, we suggested that she claim Carer’s Allowance.
She was a bit puzzled when told that she wouldn’t get paid Carer’s Allowance, but was pleased to find out that because she would have an underlying entitlement she could now get Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (IR ESA) paid with her CB ESA. This is because the Carer Premium could now be included, which increased the amount that she was entitled to.
This entitlement to IR ESA also meant that she was automatically entitled to help with health costs, so could get free prescriptions, free dental care and free eye tests.
Carers UK has a factsheet with a list of overlapping benefits and more about how this works.
If you pay rent, check whether you can get Housing Benefit. If you pay council tax, check whether you can get any help with this. If you get a means-tested benefit it can also mean that you get help with things like free prescriptions and dental care too.
The golden rule is always to get a benefit check done. You can do an online benefit check on the Turn 2 Us website or contact your local advice centre (see below).
What about the benefits of the person you care for?
Carer’s Allowance will not reduce or stop certain disability benefits (such as PIP, Attendance Allowance, DLA) the person you care for is receiving. However, it can sometimes affect any means-tested benefits they get.
If the person you care for receives a “severe disability premium” paid with any of their means-tested benefits (such as income-related ESA or Pension Credit), this might stop when you claim Carer’s Allowance. There is an exception to this rule if both you and the person you care for receive qualifying benefits.
These ‘severe disability’ amounts can also affect the amount of Housing Benefit and Council Tax support/reduction a person may get so if you have any doubts, it is a good idea to arrange a benefit check.
What happens if I need a break?
You can take a break for up to 4 weeks in every 26 weeks and still get paid Carer’s Allowance. This can be taken as a series of short breaks or taken as one longer break. To meet this rule new carers will need to have been providing at least 35 hours of care for at least 22 weeks out of the past 26 weeks. The person you care for will need to have been getting a qualifying benefit for that period too.
What about hospital stays and residential care?
If you, the carer, go into the hospital, Carer’s Allowance can continue to be paid for 12 weeks. However, if you have had a recent break from caring before going to hospital, seek advice as it may stop sooner.
If the person you care for goes into hospital your Carer’s Allowance will usually stop after 4 weeks as this is when Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance is paused.
If the person you care for is an adult and they go into residential or nursing care, your Carer’s Allowance will stop.
There are a few circumstances where Carer’s Allowance could continue;
- If the person you care for is getting armed forces independence payments which continues whilst in hospital.
- If the person you care for is under 18 when they go into hospital, their Disability Living Allowance can continue indefinitely; and as long as you continue to meet the qualifying criteria for Carer’s Allowance, including still providing 35 hours of care a week, it will continue. If you get other means-tested benefits they could be affected so it’s important to check the rules.
- If your child is in a residential care home (including a residential school) and this is funded by the local authority, Carer’s Allowance would stop for the days your child is away from home, but you may get Carer’s Allowance for the days your child is living with you as long as you meet the criteria.
Carers UK has more information including what happens during hospital stays, going into residential care or going abroad. If in any doubt contact the Carers Allowance Unit.
Always keep the Carers Allowance Unit informed of any changes to avoid potential overpayment of benefits.
The person I care for refuses to claim a disability benefit. Can I still claim Carer’s Allowance?
You cannot claim Carer’s Allowance unless the person cared for receives a qualifying benefit. If the person is still able to make their own decisions about claiming, it has to be their choice. It might help if someone other than you (such as another family member, friend or even their GP) explains to them the reasons why they should apply. If they are no longer able to make this decision, whoever is appointed to manage their affairs can claim on their behalf.
My partner is earning quite a good salary so does that mean I cannot claim Carer’s Allowance?
The income of your husband, wife or partner would not be taken into account. If you meet the other qualifying criteria, you can still claim Carer’s Allowance. Also, even if you have substantial savings, as long as you are not claiming a means-tested benefit alongside Carer’s Allowance, the savings will be ignored.
My sister and I both care for Mum now. Can we both claim Carer’s Allowance?
Only one person can claim Carer’s Allowance for caring for someone. If you both meet the qualifying criteria, either one of you can claim. The other person caring could claimCarers Credit which would at least protect their state pension. You may qualify for carers credit if you look after one or more people for a total of 20 hours per week and the person you care for either gets a qualifying benefit or a health or social care professional agrees to fill in the “care certificate” section on the application form.
Further help and advice
Local sources of help and advice
You can get a benefit check done through Citizens Advice to find out what you and the person you care for may be able to claim.
Or your local advice centre may be able to help. As well as offering benefits advice, some advice centres also help with other money matters, including debt and energy advice.
- Citizens Advice (Bristol): Freephone 0808 278 7957
- Citizens Advice (South Glos): 0808 278 7947
- North Bristol Advice Centre (North Bristol and South Gloucestershire): 0117 951 5751
- South Bristol Advice Services: 0117 985 1122
- St Paul’s Advice Centre (St. Paul’s & East Bristol): 0117 955 2981
- Age UK Bristol: 0117 922 5353
- Age UK S Glos: 01454 411 707
Turn2us is a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially.
If you are unsure whether you are entitled to benefits or where to go for further advice, please get in touch with CarersLine. We will point you in the right direction.
CarersLine is open:
Monday to Friday: 10 am – 1 pm
Monday to Thursday: 2 pm – 4 pm
(Closed on Bank Holidays)
0117 965 2200
An answerphone operates outside of these hours and your call will be returned when the helpline next opens.
Alternatively, use our contact form to receive a personal reply the same or the next working day.
Page last updated 16.10.23