If you’re a carer there is financial support out there to help you. Find out what’s available and how to apply for your entitlements.
Did you know?
Millions of pounds of carers’ benefits go unclaimed every year, according to Age UK.
Carer’s Allowance is £64.60 a week in 2018/19.
You might be able to claim it if you:
- spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
- are aged 16 or over
- aren’t in full-time education or studying for 21 hours a week or more.
- earn £116 a week or less (after taxes, care costs while you’re at work and 50% of what you pay into your pension).
The person you’re caring for must also be getting a benefit because of their illness or disability, for example:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment.
Carer’s Allowance is taxable and can also affect other benefits you might be already getting so you might be paid less in another benefit. It can also affect the benefits of the person you’re caring for.
You cannot usually get Carer’s Allowance if you are already claiming State Pension or certain income-replacing benefits such as contributory Employment and Support Allowance (also know as contribution-based ESA).
However, it’s still worth making a claim, although you will not get the benefit. If you qualify in all other respects then you might be entitled to top up income on other benefits you receive.
Your local Jobcentre Plus (or Jobs and Benefits Office in Northern Ireland) will be able to tell you which benefits to apply for.
Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit towards your State Pension while you’re not making any contributions because of your caring role.
You might be able to get Carer’s Credit if:
- you are aged 16 or over
- you aren’t yet getting State Pension
- you don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance
- you spend at least 20 hours a week caring for someone
- the person you are looking after receives a benefit because of their illness or disability, for example, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. If the person you’re caring for doesn’t get one of these benefits then you might still be able to claim by completing a ‘Care Certificate’.
You might be entitled to an additional Carer Premium if you already get:
- Income Support
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
Ask about the Carer Premium at your local Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office.
This is a benefit you can get if you have reached your State Pension age.
It’s made up of two parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Savings Credit is only payable if you or your partner reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.
How much you’ll get depends on your income and savings and whether you’re single or have a husband, wife or civil partner.
If you get Pension Credit, you may be able to get the additional amount for carers added to it, if you claim Carer’s Allowance or have an underlying entitlement to it.
Local welfare assistance
If you have an unexpected and urgent financial need, you might be able to get local help. This is called local welfare assistance.
Other benefits you might be able to claim
As a carer, there are other benefits and support you might be eligible for. Getting Carer’s Allowance might affect how much you get in these benefits.
If you’re on a low income and below State Pension age, you might be able to claim this means-tested benefit. Income Support is non-taxable.
Employment and Support Allowance
You might be eligible for income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have your own health problems as well as caring responsibilities. You might not get Carer’s Allowance if you’re getting contributory ESA (or contribution-based ESA).
If you’re caring for someone while looking for work you might be able to claim income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance. It’s taxable and means-tested.
If you’re on a low income, you might be entitled to Working Tax Credit to top up your income. It’s means-tested and non-taxable.
Universal Credit is a new financial support for people in or out of work, which replaces Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit and tax credits.
Housing Benefit can help you pay part or all of your rent if you’re on a low income.
Help if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage
If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, you may be able to get a loan from the government to pay the interest on it, if you’re on any of these benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit.
This help is called ‘Support for Mortgage Interest’ (SMI). There is a 39-week waiting period after you’ve claimed before you receive any money.
Other help if you’re on a low income
You might also be entitled to financial help with your:
- health costs
- Council Tax
- home repair services.
Other schemes and entitlements
If you’re caring for someone with limited mobility, they might be able to get support from the Motability scheme.
This can help provide a:
- powered scooter.
Blue badge parking
Blue badge parking permits allow drivers who have passengers with mobility issues to park in more convenient locations, such as disabled parking bays.
You can also park on single or double lines for up to three hours.
Disabled Persons Railcard
The Disabled Persons Railcard entitles the cardholder and a carer or companion one third off most adult rail fares on the National Rail network.
It costs £20 a year or £54 for a three-year card. You can buy one at any staffed ticket office or apply online.
Cinema Exhibitors’ Association Card
This card entitles you to one free ticket when you take the person you’re caring for to the cinema. You can apply for the card online, and all national cinema chains accept it.
There are lots more free or discounted entry offers available to carers at museums, leisure centres and National Trust sites across the country, although they aren’t always advertised.
Just ask when you’re buying tickets.
Several local authorities also offer carers’ shopping, leisure and other discounts, Ask your local authority what extra support is available.
Where to get help and advice about benefits
Claiming carers benefits can be complicated and you might need an expert benefits check to make sure you are getting the right entitlements.
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