Spotlight On Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who regularly spend at least 35 hours per week caring for a person in receipt of a ‘qualifying benefit’.
The basic rate of Carer’s Allowance is £62.10 per week, however you may not be entitled to the full amount.

The Criteria

To qualify for Carer’s Allowance you must;

  • regularly spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a person who receives a qualifying benefit
  • be aged 16 or over
  • NOT be in full-time education
  • NOT earn £110 or more a week (if you work)
  • NOT be subject to immigration control

Is Carer’s Allowance means tested?

Carer’s Allowance is not means tested and does not depend on national insurance contributions. It is taxable and counts as income for tax credits. It is important to note Carer’s Allowance is one of the benefits affected by the benefit cap, which limits the total weekly benefits that can be claimed. Therefore the ‘overlapping benefit rule’ may apply.

Qualifying benefits’

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – the care component at middle or high rate.
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – the daily living component
  • Armed forces independence payment

‘Overlapping benefit rule’

You cannot be paid carers allowance if you are receiving the same amount (£62.10 per week) or more from

The following benefits;

  • State Pension
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Contributory Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Widows’ benefits and bereavement benefits
  • Government Training Allowance

If you get less than the basic rate of Carer’s Allowance from one of the above benefits, that benefit is paid and topped up with Carer’s Allowance to equal the amount you would get from Carer’s Allowance alone.
Only the basic rate of these benefits overlaps with Carer’s Allowance.

Why Claim Carer’s Allowance?

If you would otherwise be entitled to Carer’s Allowance but cannot receive it due to the overlapping benefit rule (see pg.3), you will have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance. This means that you will still be considered as a Carer, even though you do not actually receive the
allowance.

Carer’s Premium

If you have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance but do not actually receive the allowance due to the overlapping benefit rules described above, you may be entitled to Carer’s Premium of up to £34.60 a week paid as part of another benefit. When you are assessed for means-tested benefits such as Housing Benefit or income related Employment and Support Allowance, a Carer’s Premium is included in the calculation. This increases your ‘applicable amount’ (the amount you are entitled to) by £34.60.

Carer’s Allowance and the State Pension

If you begin receiving a state pension that is more than Carer’s Allowance (not including age or earnings related additions), payment of Carer’s Allowance will stop due to the ‘overlapping benefit rule’.  If your State Pension is less than Carer’s Allowance, it will be topped up by Carer’s Allowance to the basic weekly rate of Carer’s Allowance. If all that prevents payment of Carer’s Allowance is your State Pension, an additional amount for carers is included in the calculation of Pension Credit. If this is the case and you are not already receiving Pension Credit, you would need to make a new claim by contacting the pension service.

Useful to know…

* You can only claim Carer’s Allowance for looking after 1 qualifying person.

* If the qualifying person is cared for by more than 1 person, only one carer may claim Carer’s Allowance.

35 hours per week

It is not always easy to estimate how many hours a week you care for someone. When considering whether or not you care for someone for 35 hours or more a week, you should keep in mind this is not just about ‘hands on’ care and also considers the emotional support, prompting and encouragement you may provided. You cannot average the hours over a number of weeks. If you are caring for more than one person, you cannot add together the time you spend caring for each of them.

Backdating

If you would have been eligible for Carer’s Allowance before you made the claim, you can ask for the benefit to be backdated for up to 3 months .If entitlement to Carer’s Allowance means you could start receiving a benefit such as Income Support or Pension Credit, you should claim the benefit at the same time as you claim Carer’s Allowance to ensure it is also backdated.

When does Carer’s Allowance stop being paid?

As a general rule, Carer’s Allowance will stop being paid immediately if, the person you care for does not need your help anymore, or you chose not to continue as a carer.

Carer’s Allowance will also stop if:

* The person you care for goes in to hospital/care home for 4 weeks or more

* The person you care for moves in to a care home on a permanent basis and loses their disability benefit  after four weeks.

If the person you care for passes away, you may be entitled to continue receiving Carer’s Allowance for up to 8 weeks after their death, depending on the circumstances.

 How to Claim

To make a claim for Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Premium, you need to complete a Carer’s Allowance claim form. There are two different Care’s Allowance claim forms, one for people of working age and one for people who have reached State Pension age.

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