The Carer's Allowance is a UK benefit designed to help people who have caring responsibilities for more than 35 hours each week.
It's worth nearly £3,440 a year, but charity Turn2Us says that half a million people are missing out by not claiming.
Here's everything you need to know about Carer's Allowance including who is eligible, how much you can get and how to apply.
Who gets Carer's Allowance?
You could be eligible for Carer's Allowance if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week.
To qualify, the person you care for must already get one of these benefits:
- Personal Independence Payment – daily living component
- Disability Living Allowance – the middle or highest care rate
- Attendance Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
You don't have to be related to the person or live with them to apply.
But if you share caring responsibilities with someone else, only one of you can claim.
How coronavirus is affecting the Carer's Allowance
The government has said that carers can still get the allowance if they are working remotely
This includes giving emotional support over the phone or online.
The type of care you provide can vary, but includes things such as helping with washing or cooking, taking the person to medical appointments or helping out with household tasks such as shopping or organising bills.
To get the benefit, you must also meet a certain set of criteria:
- you must be 16 or over
- you have to spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
- you need to have been in England, Scotland or Wales for at least two of the last three years (this does not apply if you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection status)
- you must normally live in England, Scotland or Wales or live abroad as a member of the armed forces (you might still be eligible if you’re moving to or already living in an EEA country or Switzerland)
- you cannot be in full-time education
- you must not be studying for 21 hours a week or more
- you cannot be subject to immigration control
You will also have to meet certain earnings criteria in order to get the benefit.
How Carer's Allowance affects other benefits
IF you apply for Carer's allowance it could affect your benefits as well as the benefits of the person you care for.
The person you care for will stop getting:
- The severe disability premium
- An extra amount for severe disability paid with Pension Credit, if they get one
- They might also stop getting reduced Council Tax.
How it affects your benefits:
- Other benefits may be reduced, but your total benefit payments will usually either go up or stay the same
- It doesn't count towards the benefits cap
- If you get Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit, you must contact HMRC to tell them about yourclaim.
How much can I earn and still get Carer's Allowance?
Generally, your earnings need to be £128 or less a week after tax, National Insurance and expenses in order to qualify,
But if your earnings are sometimes more than £128 a week you might still be eligible if your average earnings are below the threshold.
To calculate your earnings, you need to add up any income from employment or self-employment and then deduct tax, National Insurance and expenses.
Your expenses can be quite significant and can include:
- 50 per cent of your pension contributions
- Any equipment you need to do your job, such as specialist clothing
- Travel costs between different workplaces that are not paid for by your employer
- Business costs if you’re self-employed, for example a computer you only use for work
You may also be able to include carer fees in your expenses for the time when you are at work.
If you pay someone to look after the disabled person or your children, you can treat costs that are less than or equal to 50 per cent of your earnings as an expense.
The carer must not be your spouse, partner, parent, child or sibling.
You can find out more about what counts as earnings and what is excluded on the Gov.uk website.
How much you'll get
If you are eligible, you will receive £67.25 each week – you can choose to be paid weekly in advance or every four weeks.
You'll also get National Insurance Credits for each week you are paid.
How to claim Carer's Allowance
YOU can apply for the Carer's allowance either online or by post
Before you start a claim, you need to gather the correct information.
You will need:
- Your National Insurance number (as well as your partner's)
- Your bank or building society details
- Your employment details and latest payslip if you’re working
- Your P45 if you’ve recently finished work
- Any course details if you’re studying
- The details of any of your expenses
- The date of birth and address of the person you are caring for
- The National Insurance Number if the person you care for is 16 or over or
- The Disability Living Allowance reference if they’re under 16
You can backdate your claim by up to three months.
To claim online you can click here.
To claim by post, you need to download a form here. The address to send it to is at the end of the form.
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