What is Carer’s Allowance?

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. It is paid at £61.35 a week (2014/15 rate). You do not have to have paid National Insurance contributions to qualify for Carer’s Allowance. It is not a means tested benefit based on you and your partner’s income and savings. However, there is a limit on how much you can earn and still be entitled to claim Carers Allowance.
Carer’s Allowance is taxable. However, carers will only have to pay tax if they have other sources of taxable income such as an occupational pension or earnings. Carer’s Allowance on its own is below the threshold for paying tax.

Who can claim Carer’s Allowance?

Not every carer can get Carer’s Allowance. You may be eligible if you meet all the following conditions:
• You look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit such as Disability Living Allowance (middle or high rate), Personal Independence Payment (Daily Living component), Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
• You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week
• You are aged 16 or over
• You are not in full-time education
• You earn £102 a week (after deductions) or less
• You satisfy UK residence and presence conditions
If you meet the above conditions but already receive certain earnings replacement benefits (including State Retirement Pension), then the amount of Carer’s Allowance you may be entitled to will be affected.

Protecting your National Insurance record

Your National Insurance record is used to work out your entitlement to some state benefits, eg State Retirement Pension or contribution based Employment and Support Allowance. If you have to take a break from working to look after someone you may be worried about what will happen to your National Insurance record and any future pension. When you receive Carer’s Allowance you are automatically awarded a National Insurance credit which will protect your record. Credits can also count towards Bereavement Benefits for your spouse or civil partner.
Carers who do not receive Carer’s Allowance need to claim the Carer’s Credit by contacting the Carer’s Allowance Unit.
If you get Carer’s Allowance you do not need to claim Carer’s Credit as your pension is already protected.

How do I make a claim?

You claim Carer’s Allowance by applying to the Carer’s Allowance Unit of the Department of Work and Pensions:
• Visit www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/how-to-claim if you want to apply online or download a claim form
• Call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321 (text phone 0345 604 5312) to request a claim pack

When to claim

If you claim Carer’s Allowance within three months of the person you care for getting a decision about their Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allowance (AA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Carer’s Allowance will be paid from the date these benefits were awarded (as long as you meet the conditions for the whole period). If your claim is made after this you should tell DWP on your claim form if you want your claim to be backdated. Claims can only be backdated three months and you must have met all of the conditions for the whole period.

Carer Premium

If you qualify for Carer’s Allowance and you are receiving a means tested benefit you will be entitled to a carer premium added to that benefit. (If you are receiving Pension Credit this premium is called a Carer Addition and in Universal Credit it is called a Carer Element). To claim this premium you should tell the department paying your benefit that you have been awarded Carer’s Allowance. If you cannot receive Carer’s Allowance because you already have another earnings replacement benefit you will be told you have ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance. This ‘underlying entitlement’ also qualifies you for a carer premium.