A significant number of carers could be passing up an additional £240 a year in state pension, as thousands fail to claim under the government’s new Carer’s Credit scheme.
An estimated 140,000 carers in the UK are not currently claiming Carer’s Credit, a new government initiative designed to build up their state pension entitlement – and according to insurer Royal London, this could amount to a £4,700 loss in state pension over the course of a typical twenty-year retirement.
Which? takes a look at how many people missing out on the credit and who is eligible to apply.
What are National Insurance credits?
National Insurance credits allow you to fill gaps on your National Insurance record when you’re not working and unable to make National Insurance contributions.
Following changes in 2016, you need to build 35 years worth of National Insurance contributions to qualify for the full state pension and 10 years to qualify for any payment at all.
- Find out more: what is national insurance?
What is Carer’s Credit?
The Carer’s Credit was introduced by the government in 2010 to help carers fill gaps on their National Insurance record.
The system was designed to help people who spend between 20-35 hours a week caring for another person. While this group’s ability to work is restricted by their caring obligations, they do not meet the 35 hours of caring per week needed to qualify for carer’s allowance, which would automatically trigger National Insurance credits.
When launching the scheme, the government predicted that it would help 160,000 extra carers a year (110,000 women and 50,000 men). But many people are failing to claim.
Figures requested by Royal London under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that only 3,524 people made a successful claim in the 2016/17 tax year. And up until 21st December 2017, only 2,709 carers made a successful claim for the 2017/18 tax year.
A spokesperson from the DWP stated that the number of applications for Carer’s Credit has consistently increased year-on-year since 2010. As of October last year, 13,700 carers were in receipt of the credit.
This figure still represents a significant shortfall in the number of people who could benefit from the scheme.
- Find out more: how does National Insurance affect my state pension
Who is eligible for the Carer’s Credit?
To qualify for carer’s credit, you must be between 16 and state pension age and provide at least 20 hours of care per week for a disabled person who is receiving:-
- Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
- Attendance Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment – daily living component at the standard enhance rate or
- Armed Forces Independent payment.
If the person being cared for does not get one of the benefits listed above, your application must be signed by a health or social care professional (such as a GP), who can confirm the details on the application.
Do I still qualify if I take a break from caring?
It is still possible to get carer’s credit if you have breaks from caring for up to 12 weeks in a row.
This could be for a variety of reasons including:-
- Taking a short holiday
- Someone you care for goes into hospital
- You go into hospital
You should inform the Carer’s Allowance Unit if you take a break of more than 12 consecutive weeks. They can be contacted via phone on 0800 731 0297.
- Find out more: National insurance and benefits
How do I claim Carer’s Credit?
To apply for Carer’s Credit, you will need to complete the Carer’s Credit form on GOV.UK.
The form includes a carer’s certificate which must be signed by a health and social care professional.
If you need a printed version of the application form or a different format (such as braille), contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit.
Our short video gives a quick breakdown on how State Pension works. For more information and useful tips on how to build your entitlement, take a look at our comprehensive state pension guide.