Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who are giving regular and substantial care to disabled people in their own homes. Carer’s Allowance is a taxable benefit and forms part of your taxable income.
Check if you can get Carer’s Allowance
You can get Carer’s Allowance if you meet all the following conditions:
- you are aged 16 or over and not in full time education
- you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person who gets one of the following benefits: Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, the middle or higher rate for personal care 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 £120 a week after deductions such as tax and national insurance
- you are in Great Britain when you claim - there are some exceptions, for example, for members and family members of the Armed Forces
- you have been in Great Britain for at least 2 of the last 3 years - unless you’re a refugee or immediate family member of a refugee
- you are habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
- you are not subject to immigration control that would stop you getting benefit.
There are some exceptions to these conditions if you're living in another EEA country.
In some cases, you may meet the conditions for both Carer's Allowance and another benefit, such as state retirement pension, contributory Employment and Support Allowance or contributory Jobseeker's 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.
However, 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 and you may need to get advice.
If in doubt, you should always make a claim for Carer's Allowance as this might also allow you to get extra amounts of means tested benefits such as Housing Benefit and the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit.
Always check with the person you are caring for before you make a claim for Carer's Allowance as they may lose some of the benefit they get, such as a severe disability addition, if you make a claim.
If you're not eligible for Carer's Allowance and you care for someone for more than 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. Find out more about Carer's Credits on GOV.UK.
You do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get carer’s allowance.
You may be able to get Carer's Allowance if you and the person you are caring for move to another EEA member state or Switzerland, 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.
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 are getting Carer's Allowance in Scotland you will get a new payment called Carer's Allowance Supplement from the summer of 2018. The payment will top up Carer's Allowance to the same amount as Jobseeker's Allowance.
You won't need to apply for Carer's Allowance Supplement as you'll be paid it automatically. You'll be paid a lump sum covering a 6 month period. The first payment of £221 will be paid in the summer, covering the 6 month period from 1 April 2018.
There is more information about carer's allowance supplement on the Scottish Government website.
Claiming Carer's Allowance
To make a claim for Carer's Allowance you can:
- use the online Claim Carer's Allowance service on GOV.UK
- download and print a Carer's Allowance claim form, fill it in and send it by post
- claim over the phone
Carer's Allowance Unit
Telephone: 0800 731 0297
Textphone: 0800 731 0317
Monday to Thursday, 8:30am - 5pm
Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm
Calls and texts to these numbers are free of charge.
You can find out more about Carer's Allowance on GOV.UK.
If you were entitled before you make your claim, you can ask for benefit to be paid for an earlier period of up to three months. You should ask for this on your claim form. You do not have to give a reason why you are claiming late.
You will have to provide your national insurance number and evidence to show it belongs to you. If you not 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.
After you've made your claim for Carer's Allowance you might be able to claim a Carer Premium of £36 a week. This will be on top of any means-tested benefits you're already getting, including:
- Council Tax Support
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
Speak to the Jobcentre about making a claim for Carer Premium.
Civil penalties for causing an overpayment
In some cases, you may have to pay a civil penalty if you do something 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.
Change of circumstances and fraud
You may commit a benefit fraud if you give incorrect or misleading information, or fail to report a change of circumstances which could affect your Carer’s Allowance, for example, you stop caring for the disabled person for as many hours each week. Even if you are not committing fraud, you can cause an overpayment that will have to be repaid.
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, you can be paid by Simple Payment. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will give you a Simple Payment card which you can use to collect your benefit at a PayPoint outlet displaying the Simple Payment sign.
Carer’s Allowance is paid as long as you continue caring for a disabled person for at least 35 hours a week and do not earn more than the earnings limit. It can continue regardless of your age although if you are getting certain other benefits, for example, the State Pension, this may affect whether you can get Carer’s Allowance as well.
If the person you are caring for goes into hospital, this may also affect your Carer’s Allowance.
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.