If you spend more than 35 hours a week caring for a relative or friend who is ill or disabled, you might be entitled to claim carer’s allowance.
What is carer's allowance?
Carer’s allowance is a government benefit to help you out financially if you care for someone close to you. On this page, you can find out how much money you can get, if you qualify for the allowance and how to apply.
Follow our top tips to make the application process as smooth as possible and use our checklist to make sure you have all the information you need to apply.
How much is carer's allowance?
The rate of carer’s allowance is £62.10 a week (2016-2017) with a £10 Christmas bonus in December.
Can I get carer's allowance?
You’ll only get carer’s allowance if you earn less than £110 per week after tax, and any money you get from other benefits is taken into account too - although your pension doesn't count as income. In addition to the income cap, to qualify for carer’s allowance you also have to:
- spend at least 35 hours a week caring for an older or disabled person, but you don’t have to live with them or be related to them
- be 16 years old or over
- live in England, Scotland or Wales (find out about the rules for Northern Ireland)
- not be in full-time education.
The person you care for has to receive one of the following benefits:
- either rate of PIP (personal independence payment) daily living component
- the higher or middle rate care component of DLA (disability living allowance)
- attendance allowance
- armed forces independence payment (AFIP).
You may also be eligible if the person you care for gets the constant attendance allowance (CAA).
If I claim other benefits in addition to the carer’s allowance will I be affected by the benefit cap?
The benefit cap was introduced in April 2013 and sets a limit on the total amount of benefits that working-age households can receive. Among other objectives, the purpose of the cap is to introduce greater fairness in the welfare system between those people receiving out-of-work benefits and taxpayers in employment by preventing households on out-of-work benefits from receiving a greater income from benefits than the average weekly wage.
However, following a campaign by Carers UK for changes to the benefit cap rules, the government announced on 26 January 2016 that it will change the law to exempt all carers in receipt of carer’s allowance from the benefit cap. Carers UK see this as a major change in the law as the benefit cap was unfairly penalising carers, many of whom are already facing financial hardship as a result of their caring role.
What do I need to know about carer's allowance?
- If someone else looks after the same person, only one of you can get carer’s allowance.
- Even if you’re looking after more than relative or friend, you can only get carer’s allowance for one person.
- If you were entitled to carer’s allowance before claiming it, you can ask for it to be backdated for up to three months.
- After you’ve received carer’s allowance for at least 22 weeks, you can take up to four weeks break from caring and still receive the benefit if you, or your relative or friend, goes on holiday. Read more about how to fund breaks from caring in .
- If either you or the person you’re caring for goes into care or hospital, you can still get carer’s allowance for up to 12 weeks.
How do I claim carer's allowance?
You can apply for carer’s allowance online on the GOV.UK website or by post by filling in a DS700 form.
Online (England, Scotland and Wales): You can apply online on the GOV.UK website (see our Useful organisations and websites for carer benefits page) and you’ll see the results of your claim immediately once it is submitted. You don’t need a signature or password to claim carer's allowance online, which makes it easy to use.
By post: Download and print this form if you would prefer to fill in the form by hand. The address to post the form to is in the 'What to do now' section on the form.
In Northern Ireland, go to this page of the nidirect website.
How to fill in the carer's allowance form
The process to apply for carer’s allowance may seem daunting at first as it’s a long form with sometimes detailed questions. But don’t worry, our checklist will help make sure you have all the information you need to fill in the form. If you come across questions you don’t know how to answer, GOV.UK has a helpline you can call, see our Top five tips for filling in the carer's allowance form for more information.
Checklist before filling in the form
- Check that you’re entitled to carer’s allowance by having a look through the government's eligibility criteria.
- Talk to the person you’re caring for and get their permission to apply, as your claim could reduce some of their benefits.
- Have your National Insurance number, bank details, your latest payslip or P45 (if you recently stopped working) and the NI number or disability living allowance reference of the person you care for at hand.
- Make sure you have the details of any courses of education you have been on in the last few months.
- If you’ve been self-employed or working recently, you need to have information about your employer and earnings as well as any pension contributions and childcare payments.
- You also need to know the details on any statutory sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay or adoption pay that you’ve received during the time period you’re claiming for.
Top five tips for filling in the carer's allowance form
- If you use the online form, the website tells you if you fill in something wrongly. This means you’re more likely to get the form right the first time around and get your first allowance payment faster.
- On average, GOV.UK say the online claim takes less than 30 minutes to complete. However, you do need to complete it within 90 minutes, so although you can take a break, bear in mind that you will be timed out after an hour and a half.
- If you get stuck filling in the form, the government has a dedicated helpline. Call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321 for advice. Lines are open Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm, and Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm. Closed on public holidays.
- You can also order the claim form in large print or braille by calling the helpline.
- If you have speech or hearing difficulties, you can reach the Carer’s Allowance Unit by textphone on 0345 604 5312.
Helping loved ones in later life is an introduction to the different care choices that are available. Perhaps you are looking for ways to help a relative to stay living at home, or it could be that one (or both) of your parents or a partner want to move into somewhere offering sheltered or residential care. We explain the choices and how to find out more.
- Carer’s assessment: find out if you are eligible for extra help if you are providing substantial care for a relative or friend.
- Respite care: caring for someone is difficult - find out why it’s important to take a break and what respite options are available.
- Useful organisations and websites: use this page for contact details for further support. Carers UK has an online forum as well as its advice line for carers.
Page last reviewed: 31 March 2016
Next review due: 31 March 2017