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Carer's Allowance

This advice applies to Scotland

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who are giving regular and substantial care to disabled people. Carer’s Allowance is a taxable benefit and forms part of your taxable income.

Check if you can get Carer’s Allowance

You can usually get Carer’s Allowance if all of the following apply:

  • you're aged 16 or over
  • you're not in full time education
  • you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person
  • the person you're caring for gets one of the following benefits: Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, the middle or highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (either rate) or Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • you don't earn more than £123 a week – after deductions such as income tax, National Insurance and half of your pension contributions
  • you're not subject to immigration control that would stop you getting benefits

You usually have to be in Great Britain when you claim. There are some exceptions, for example, for members and family members of the Armed Forces.

You may be able to get Carer's Allowance if you and the person you are caring for move to the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein, or if you’re already living in one of these countries. You can find out more about claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on GOV.UK.

If you've lived outside of the UK

You’ll need to give evidence to show the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’.

Check how to prove you’re habitually resident.

You must also have lived in Great Britain for 2 out of the last 3 years. Great Britain is England, Wales and Scotland. It doesn’t include Northern Ireland.

Your time spent in Great Britain doesn't need to have been in one go. For example, you could have lived in England for 1 year, the USA for 1 year and Wales for 1 year.

You might still be eligible if you haven’t lived in Great Britain for enough time, but you've lived in the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

If you haven’t lived in Great Britain for enough time

You might be eligible if you’ve worked or claimed benefits for 2 out of the last 3 years in the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

The rules in this area are complicated and it’s best to get advice before you apply. You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

You might also be eligible if you’ve got a ‘genuine and sufficient link’ to the UK.

You might have a ‘genuine and sufficient link’ if for example:

  • you’ve lived in the UK for nearly 2 years
  • you work or are self-employed in the UK
  • you have a family member who works or is self-employed in the UK
  • you have close family in the UK who you rely on for care and support
  • you get certain benefits in the UK

The rules in this area are complicated and it’s best to get advice before you apply. You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you get a pension or benefit from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

Your eligibility for Carer’s Allowance could be affected. The rules in this area are complicated and it’s best to get advice before you apply. You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you’re from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

To apply for Carer's Allowance you need to show:

  • you made the claim while you were in England, Scotland or Wales
  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being 'habitually resident'
  • you've lived in England, Scotland or Wales for the last 2 out of 3 years

If you've lived in the UK for 5 years or more

You should apply for 'settled status'.

Check how to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Your Carer's Allowance might stop if you don't have settled status by 31 December 2020.

If you've lived in the UK for less than 5 years

You should apply for 'pre-settled status'. If you've got pre-settled status, you'll still need to show you're habitually resident to get Carer's Allowance.

Check how to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Find out more about staying in the UK after Brexit.

If you're not eligible for Carer's Allowance

If you care for a person or people for at least 20 hours a week, you might be able to get Carer's Credits. These are credits that fill in gaps in your National Insurance record - this decides whether you can get: 

  • State Pension 

  • contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

Find out more about Carer's Credits on GOV.UK.

If you're a young carer 

If you're 16-18 years and care for someone getting certain disability benefits for at least 16 hours a week, you might be able to get a Young Carer Grant. 

You can’t get a Young Carer Grant if you’ve applied for, or already get, Carer’s Allowance. 

If you think you’re eligible for Carer’s Allowance you should apply for the Young Carer Grant first. You can then apply for Carer’s Allowance after you’ve been paid the Young Carer Grant. 

There are some situations where you may be slightly worse off by doing this. For example, if you delay applying for Carer’s Allowance you may miss the deadline for Carer’s Allowance Supplement. You can get advice at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Find out more about who can get the Young Carer Grant and how to apply.

How much Carer's Allowance you can get

Carer’s Allowance is paid at a standard rate for the person making the claim.

You can check the current rate of Carer's Allowance on GOV.UK.

Carer's Allowance Supplement

If you lived in Scotland and were getting a payment of Carer's Allowance on a twice-yearly "qualifying date" set by the Scottish Government, you will also get a new lump sum payment called the Carer's Allowance Supplement

If you get other benefits

You’ll get no Carer’s Allowance or less if you get some other benefits including:

  • state retirement pension

  • contributory ESA

  • contribution-based JSA

  • Maternity Allowance

If your Carer's Allowance is either the same as or less than the other benefit, you will get the other benefit rather than Carer's Allowance.

If the other benefit is less than your Carer's Allowance, you will get the other benefit and the balance of your Carer's Allowance on top.

The rules about this are complicated - you can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice to check you’re getting what you should.

If you get any benefits based on your income

These are known as ‘means tested benefits’. Carer’s Allowance counts as income when these benefits are worked out.

You can get an extra amount called a ‘Carers’ Premium’ or ‘Carers’ Addition’ with any of the following benefits if you get Carer’s Allowance:

  • Pension Credit

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income Support

  • Housing Benefit

  • Council Tax Support

You get an extra amount of Universal Credit called a ‘carer element’ if you’re eligible for Carer’s Allowance – even if you don’t apply for Carer’s Allowance.

Claiming Carer's Allowance

If the person you’re caring for gets a benefit with a Severe Disability Premium or Addition

The person you’re caring for can’t get the Premium or Addition while you’re getting Carer’s Allowance. They should contact the DWP or their local council to let them know you’re getting Carer’s Allowance.

The person you’re caring for might get a Severe Disability Premium or Addition with:

  • income-based JSA

  • income-related ESA

  • Income Support

  • Housing Benefit

  • Council Tax Support

  • Pension Credit

Always check with the person you’re caring for before you apply for Carer's Allowance.

To make a claim for Carer's Allowance you can:

You can't make a claim by phone.

If you need help making your claim, contact the Carer's Allowance Unit.

Carer's Allowance Unit

Telephone: 0800 731 0297
Textphone: 0800 731 0317
NGT text relay (if you can't hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 731 0297
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Mail Handling Site A 
Wolverhampton 
WV98 2AB

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

You can find out more about Carer's Allowance on GOV.UK.

You will have to provide your national insurance number and evidence to show it belongs to you. If you don't know your national insurance number, but you think you have one, you should provide evidence to help the office to find it. If you do not have a national insurance number, you will have to apply for one.

Your partner may have to attend an interview with a personal adviser as a condition of you getting Carer's Allowance.

Check if you can get your Carer’s Allowance backdated

Your claim can be backdated for up to three months if you were eligible. You don’t have to give a reason why you’re claiming late.

Ask for your Carer’s Allowance to be backdated when you apply – you should ask for this on the claim form where it asks ‘When do you want your Carer’s Allowance to start’?

Change of circumstances

Once you know about a change that might affect the amount of Carer's Allowance you get, tell the DWP as soon as you can.

The change might increase your payment and you might miss out on extra money if you tell the DWP late.

You should still tell the DWP if you think a change might reduce your payment - you won't save money by reporting it later. If you tell the DWP late you could get paid too much and have to pay your benefits back to the DWP. This is called an overpayment - check how the DWP deals with overpayments.

If the person you’re caring for goes into a care home or hospital

Disability benefits will usually stop after someone has been in a care home or hospital for 28 days. If they go into a care home or hospital more than once in 28 days, the time from each visit will be added together.

If disability benefits stop for the person you’re caring for, you can’t keep getting Carer’s Allowance - you should contact the DWP to let them know that the person’s disability benefits have stopped.

Civil penalties for causing an overpayment

In some cases, you may have to pay a civil penalty if you do something careless which causes an overpayment. This can happen if, for example, you give wrong information or you keep quiet about something, and as a result you get more Carer's Allowance than you're supposed to be getting. You can only be asked to pay this penalty if you haven't committed fraud. If you have committed fraud, different rules apply. You can appeal against a decision to impose a civil penalty.

Fraud

It could be benefit fraud if your Carer’s Allowance is affected because you:

  • give the DWP information you know is misleading or wrong
  • don't tell the DWP when your circumstances change – for example if you stop caring for the disabled person for 35 hours each week

Your circumstances can be checked at any time while you are claiming and fraud officers can also get information about you from other government agencies and from your employer, bank or utility companies. Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and you can be prosecuted or asked to pay a penalty. If you are being investigated for benefit fraud, your benefit will be suspended. If you committed benefit fraud, your benefit can be reduced or stopped in the future.

For more information on what to do if you are asked to attend an interview under caution, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.

How Carer’s Allowance is paid

Carer's Allowance is usually paid directly into a bank, building society or Post Office card account. If you cannot open or manage an account, the DWP will pay you using the Payment Exception Service – find out how the Payment Exception Service works on GOV.UK.

You’ll keep getting Carer’s Allowance for as long as you’re still eligible.

Problems with Carer’s Allowance

If you are refused Carer’s Allowance or you think you are getting the wrong amount of benefit, you can challenge the decision. You should do this within one month of the decision.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from the local benefits office or the DWP you can complain. This might be because of errors, delays, rudeness or difficulty getting in touch. You can do this whether or not you also want to challenge a decision.

For more information about challenging benefit decisions and about complaining, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.

Other help for carers

You can contact Carers Scotland on 0808 808 7777 for confidential information and advice. The line is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm and a listening service is available on Mondays and Tuesdays, 9am to 7pm.

Find out more about the help and support that is available to carers.

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