The purpose of this factsheet is to inform carers about Carers Allowance, affect on other benefits, how to claim and stay informed of changes that could affect a claim.
What is Carer’s Allowance, and the rules for claiming?
Carer’s Allowance (CA) is the main state benefit paid to Carers. If you care for someone with substantial caring needs it is important to find out if you can claim it. You do not have to be related to, or live with the person you care for. From April 2015 the basic level of CA is currently worth £62.10 per week. Carer’s Allowance is taxable if you have other sources of taxable income that take you over the tax threshold, and can also affect your other benefits.
Rules for claiming Carer’s Allowance
To be able to claim CA you need to meet the qualifying rules. Please check each of the rules as they are quite complicated.
Rule 1: You must regularly spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a person who receives either:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component (at either rate), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component at the middle or higher rate (including for a disabled child).
Attendance Allowance (AA) at either rate.
Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries or a War Disablement Pension scheme.
Rule 2: You must be aged 16 years of age or over. You can apply for Carer’s Allowance up to three months before your 16th birthday, but you will only be paid the benefit from the day you become 16 years of age.
Rule 3: You must pass the UK residence and presence tests. You must have been in Great Britain for at least 104 weeks in the 156 weeks before you claim (2 out of 3 years). You must be in Great Britain when you claim (exceptions are made for the Armed Forces and their family members). Special rules apply to countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) and others who Britain has agreements with. You must not be subject to immigration control. Information about your rights within Europe can be sought from the AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) who can be contacted on 020 7831 4276 or by email at email@example.com or visit www.airecentre.org.uk .
Rule 4: You must not be in full-time education. You are treated as being in full-time education if you attend a course for 21 hours or more a week, it is also dependent on the type of course you are on. Carers Allowance is not paid during temporary absences from your course including holiday periods.
Rule 5: If you work (including self-employment), you must not earn more than £110 per week once allowable expenses such as Income Tax, National Insurance, half of your pension contributions to a personal or occupational pension are deducted. Occupational or personal pensions count as earnings for adult and child additions, but not for the basic rate of CA.
If you are self-employed first deduct from your gross weekly income expenses that are incurred “wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business” in the same way as you would for income tax purposes.
If you need to pay for someone to care for the person you care for, or a child under 16 years of age while you are at work, you can also deduct these payments from your weekly earnings up to the value of half your earnings (once the deductions above have been made if they apply). These terms do not apply if you are paying a close relative such as a spouse, partner, civil partner, parent, son, daughter, brother or sister to look after the cared for person for whom you are claiming Carer’s Allowance.
State Pension can affect your right to CA due to the overlapping benefit rule (see Rule 6).
Rule 6: Overlapping Benefits – You cannot be paid CA while you are receiving the same amount or more from the following benefits:
Bereavement or widow’s benefits
Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Severe Disablement Allowance
State Retirement Pension
If you get any of the benefits listed above and they pay you £61.35 or more you cannot receive Carer’s Allowance. Instead, Jobcentre Plus will work out if these benefits can be increased or if you’re entitled to other benefits.
You can claim CA at the same time as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for a disabled child or Attendance Allowance (AA).
If you are claiming an overlapping benefit it is still worth applying for CA as you may receive the Carer’s Premium, or Carer’s Addition calculated in for other means-tested benefits. You can get Carer’s Premium or Carers Addition if you claim CA, or if all that prevents you claiming CA is the fact you are claiming an overlapping benefit, as making the application will prove that you have an underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance and meet the criteria.
If you are already claiming one of the following benefits and you are also a Carer you may be able to claim Carer’s Premium on top of CA. This is an extra amount of £34.60 that is included in the calculation of:
Income based Job Seeker Allowance
Income related Employment and Support Allowance
Local Council Tax Support