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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. In this article you can find out whether you qualify, how much money you could get and how to apply.

Watch our short video for a simple outline of what you’ll need to know. You can then find more detailed information below.

How much is Carer’s Allowance per week?

The rate of the Carer's Allowance for 2020-21 is:

£67.25 a week

with a £10 Christmas bonus in December.

Am I eligible for Carer’s Allowance?

You will be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you meet certain conditions. You must:

Checklist (ticks)
  • spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who is receiving a qualifying disability benefit (see below), 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
  • earn £128 or less, per week, after tax (2020-21). This £128 is ‘earned’ income only. It doesn’t take into account benefits such as Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments.

 

In addition, the person you care for must receive one of the following benefits:


You may also be eligible if your loved one gets Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA).

Use our calculator to find out how much you might pay a home care agency in your area and what financial support is available.

What happens to Carer’s Allowance if you are affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)?

If you have a temporary break from your caring role during the pandemic because you, or the person you care for, has coronavirus or needs to self isolate, you can continue to claim Carer’s Allowance.

If you provide care remotely during the coronavirus outbreak, including giving emotional support over the phone or online, this counts towards the 35 hours a week eligibility requirement for Carer’s Allowance.

Get the latest coronavirus news and advice from Which?

Can I claim Carer’s Allowance if I get other state benefits?

The ‘overlapping benefits’ rule means that, although you may qualify for two or more earnings-replacements benefits, you normally can’t receive the full amount for more than one benefit at the same time.

 

You may not be able to get Carer’s Allowance if you receive one or more of the following benefits:

  • State Pension (see more on this below)
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Bereavement or Widow’s Benefits
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Universal Credit – carer element.

By claiming Carer’s Allowance, any of these other benefits may be reduced or stopped. But the total amount you get in benefits should not decrease – it will usually increase or at least stay the same.

As long as you meet all the conditions for Carer’s Allowance, you may be eligible to receive Carer’s Credit, to help fill in gaps in your national insurance record, or the carer addition of Pension Credit

Even if you’re not eligible for Carer’s Allowance, you could still qualify for Carer’s Credit.

Can I claim Carer’s Allowance if I get the State Pension?

You cannot receive the State Pension and Carer’s Allowance in full. But you may be able to claim some Carer’s Allowance if you are on a lower level of State Pension.

  • If your State Pension payment is worth more than the Carer’s Allowance – i.e. you get more than £67.25 a week in State Pension – you will not be eligible for Carer’s Allowance payments.
  • If your State Pension is lower than the Carer’s Allowance – i.e. you get less than £67.25 a week in State Pension – you will be able to claim a portion of the Carer’s Allowance. For example, if your State Pension was £40 a week, you could claim £27.25 in Carer’s Allowance to make up the difference.

However, even if your State Pension payment is more than the Carer’s Allowance, it can be worth making a claim in order to establish your ‘underlying entitlement’ to the benefit. In some cases, this can increase the amount you’re entitled to receive for other means-tested benefits. It can also entitle you to additional payments if you receive other benefits, such as a carers addition or carers premium (for Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and other income-based benefits), or the carers element of Universal Credit.

If you’re about to get your State Pension or are already receiving it, contact the Carers UK advice line below for a benefit check.

Carers UK helpline for benefit checks and advice for carers:

0808 808 7777

Mon and Tues, 10am–4pm

It’s best to seek advice before making any decisions relating to overlapping benefits as this is a complex area. 

Receive expert guidance on caring for older people. Our emails are free and you can stop them any time.

How do I claim Carer’s Allowance?

In England, Scotland and Wales

You can apply for Carer’s Allowance online on the gov.uk website or by filling in and posting a DS700 form (or DS700(SP) if you receive state pension).

Gov.uk (Carer's Allowance)

How it works, eligibility, effects on benefits and how to make a claim.

Gov.uk

Download the form and print a paper copy to post:

DS700 form

Fill out an interactive form online:

Apply online

For other queries, contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit:

Call the helpline for information and how to make a claim:

0800 731 0297

Textphone: 0800 731 0317

Mon–Fri, 8.00am–6pm

 

In Scotland, an additional Carer’s Allowance Supplement is available. This is paid twice a year to eligible Carer’s Allowance recipients (payments are £230.10 in 2020).

In Northern Ireland

Visit the nidirect website for more information on how to apply.

How to fill in the Carer’s Allowance form

For tips on how to fill in the Carer’s Allowance form correctly, check out our handy checklist to guide you through the process:

 

What else do I need to know about Carer’s Allowance?

  • If you’re one of a number of people caring for the same person, only one of you can get Carer’s Allowance.

  • If you care for more than one person, you can only claim Carer’s Allowance for one of them.

  • Claiming Carer’s Allowance may affect the benefits that the person you care for is entitled to. If you get Carer’s Allowance, they will stop receiving council tax reduction and any extra severe disability payments that are paid with their benefits.
  • If you were entitled to Carer’s Allowance before making a claim, you can ask for it to be backdated for up to three months.
  • If 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 the person you’re caring for, goes on holiday.
  • If you, or the person you’re caring for, goes into residential care or hospital, you can still get Carer’s Allowance for up to 12 weeks.
  • If your income changes while you’re receiving Carer’s Allowance, inform DWP as soon as possible or you may risk collecting overpayments, which will eventually be recovered. In 2018-19, DWP detected 93,000 overpayments of Carer’s Allowance.

Read more about how to arrange and fund breaks from caring in our guide to respite care.

Keeping track of benefits that the person you care for receives

Sometimes you'll need information about any benefits that the person you are caring for receives. If there is any doubt, you can help them find out what they’re receiving by encouraging them to contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

If they lack mental capacity, and have a Power of Attorney (POA) in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland in place, speak to their attorney about their benefits.

If there is no POA in place, but they would like you to deal with the DWP on their behalf, you can apply for the Role of Appointee. This gives you responsibility for making, and maintaining, any benefit claims.

Further reading

Carer’s assessment

If you care for someone, you can arrange a carer’s assessment to find out if you’re eligible for support.

Last updated: 22 Apr 2020