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1 Factsheet 55 April 2011 Carer s Allowance About this factsheet This factsheet covers Carer s Allowance, a benefit paid to people who care for someone receiving Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance care component (at the highest or middle rate) or Constant Attendance Allowance. The information in this factsheet is correct for the period April 2011 March Benefit rates and other figures are expected to increase again in April 2012 but rules and figures sometimes change during the year. The information given in this factsheet is applicable in England and Wales. Different rules may apply in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Readers in these nations should contact their respective national Age UK organisations for information specific to where they live see section 12 for details. Section 12 also has details of how to order other Age UK factsheets and information materials and the telephone numbers for Age UK Advice. If you need more detailed advice or representation, it is often best to find a local service offering this. Sometimes this is suggested in the text. Age UK Advice can give you contact details for a local Age UK, or you could contact one of the independent organisations listed in section 11. Factsheet 55 April of 17

2 Inside this factsheet 1 Recent developments 3 2 Future changes 3 3 What is Carer s Allowance? 3 4 Who can claim? How do you qualify for Carer s Allowance? 4 5 Making a claim Backdating and advance claims 5 6 Decisions and payments Challenging decisions Payment 6 7 Changes of circumstances If the person you care for goes into a care home or hospital If the person you care for dies Invalid Care Allowance Breaks from caring Going abroad 8 8 Carer s Allowance and other benefits State pension Other overlapping benefits The benefits of the person you are caring for 11 9 National Insurance Credits Carers Credit Council Tax Reductions for Carers Useful organisations Further information from Age UK 15 Factsheet 55 April of 17

3 1 Recent developments The Carer s Allowance rate for 2011/12 is a week. The amount a carer can earn and still be entitled to Carer s Allowance remains at 100 a week in April 2011 (see section 4.1). Since April 2010 it has not been possible for increases for adult dependants to be paid on new claims for Carer s Allowance. Claimants who have been receiving Carer s Allowance since before 6 April 2010 can continue to receive an increase for their partner as part of their claim. The adult dependant s increase is a week in 2011/12. Adult dependant s increases will be abolished altogether in April Increases for child dependants have not been payable on new claims for Carer s Allowance since Some claimants who have been receiving Carer s Allowance since before 6 April 2003 may still be receiving an increase for a dependent child or children. The increase is a week per child, but it is reduced to 8.10 for the first child. 2 Future changes As at April 2011 no detailed proposals have been made by the government about changes to Carer s Allowance. However, the government says that it is considering whether changes to Carer s Allowance will be necessary to take account of the introduction of Universal Credit and provide clearer, more effective support for carers. 3 What is Carer s Allowance? Carer s Allowance is a benefit paid to people who are caring for a disabled person for at least 35 hours a week. It is worth a week. You do not need to have paid any national insurance contributions to qualify for Carer s Allowance and you will be credited with Class 1 national insurance contributions while receiving it. Carer s Allowance is taxable. Factsheet 55 April of 17

4 4 Who can claim? You can only claim Carer s Allowance to care for one disabled person, even if you are caring for more than one person. If more than one person is caring for a disabled person, then only one of them can claim Carer s Allowance. You can claim Carer s Allowance for looking after your partner, a relative, or even a friend or neighbour, as long as you satisfy the qualifying conditions. You don t have to be sharing accommodation with the person you are caring for. 4.1 How do you qualify for Carer s Allowance? To qualify for Carer s Allowance you must spend at least 35 hours a week looking after someone who is receiving Attendance Allowance (higher or lower rate), the care component of Disability Living Allowance (highest or middle rate), or Constant Attendance Allowance (of or more paid with an industrial injuries disablement, war or service pension). It doesn t matter whether the care is given during the day, evening, night or weekend, as long as it comes to at least 35 hours a week. For Carer s Allowance a week is a period of seven days beginning on a Sunday. There is no firm definition of the type of care that must be given. There is no upper age limit for claiming Carer s Allowance, although if you are receiving a State Pension or another benefit, you may not receive any or all of the Carer s Allowance (see section 8). You must be at least 16 years old to claim. If you are in full-time education you cannot receive Carer s Allowance. A course described as full-time by the educational institution providing it, counts as full-time education. If the institution does not say whether a course is fulltime or part-time, the hours of attendance will be calculated and supervised study of 21 hours a week or more will count as full-time education. If you are working, you cannot get Carer s Allowance if you earn more than 100 a week after the deduction of allowable expenses, such as tax, national insurance contributions and some pension contributions. It does not matter if you do voluntary work, as long as you still provide care for 35 hours. Other income (such as an occupational pension) will not affect your Carer s Allowance. Factsheet 55 April of 17

5 There are some presence and residence conditions which apply to Carer s Allowance. You must normally be present in the UK when you claim, have been in the UK for 26 weeks out of the previous 52 weeks, and be ordinarily resident in the UK. See Section 7.5 for information about exporting Carer s Allowance within the European Economic Area and Switzerland. You will not qualify for Carer s Allowance if you are subject to immigration control. 5 Making a claim You can claim Carer s Allowance online at the Direct gov website or you can use a paper claim form. If you claim online, you may have to send documents to support your claim by post. Paper claims should be made on form DS700, unless you receive a State Pension in which case you should use form DS700(SP). This form has been designed to be shorter and easier for pensioners to complete. The person you care for, or their appointee, will have to sign one part of the claim form to confirm that you are caring for them for at least 35 hours a week. Action: Download a form or claim online at Collect a paper claim form from your local Jobcentre Plus office or phone the Benefit Enquiry Line or Carers Allowance Unit see section 11 for details. 5.1 Backdating and advance claims Usually, Carer s Allowance can only be backdated for three months and so it is important to claim as soon as you think you might be entitled. If the person you are looking after has recently been awarded a qualifying benefit (such as Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance) you can get Carer s Allowance backdated to the date that the award of the qualifying benefit started (even if this was over three months ago). You must claim Carer s Allowance within three months of the award of the qualifying benefit being notified to the disabled person otherwise you could lose out. Factsheet 55 April of 17

6 If claiming Carer s Allowance will entitle you to other benefits for the first time (for example Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit) you should claim that benefit at the same time as Carer s Allowance to make sure that you get your maximum entitlement. Your claim may initially be refused, but if Carer s Allowance is subsequently awarded, your award could be backdated to when you first made the claim. If you know that you are going to become entitled to Carer s Allowance in the future, you can claim it up to three months in advance. This gives the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) time to deal with your claim and pay you as soon as you qualify. 6 Decisions and payments You will receive a decision on your claim in writing. The decision letter will include information about appeal processes, reporting changes of circumstances and payment details. 6.1 Challenging decisions If you think a decision on Carer s Allowance is wrong, you may be able to get it changed by asking for a revision, supersession or appeal. See Age UK s Factsheet 74, Challenging welfare benefit decisions, for more information or contact an independent advice agency for help. There are time limits for submitting revision requests and appeals and so it is important to act quickly. 6.2 Payment Carer s Allowance is usually paid by direct credit transfer into your bank, building society or Post Office account. You can choose to be paid either weekly in advance, or at four-weekly or 13- weekly intervals. If you get Carer s Allowance (or have an underlying entitlement), you are entitled to a Christmas bonus of 10. Factsheet 55 April of 17

7 7 Changes of circumstances If your circumstances change in a way that may affect your benefit entitlement, you must let the DWP know. You can do this in writing, by telephone or by . If you do not inform the DWP of a change in circumstances and you are overpaid as a result, you will have to pay the money back. If you are receiving Carer s Allowance when you reach State Pension age, see section 8.1 to find out how claiming your State Pension will affect your Carer s Allowance. 7.1 If the person you care for goes into a care home or hospital Your entitlement to Carer s Allowance depends on the person you are caring for receiving Attendance Allowance (AA) or the highest care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If the person you are caring for goes into a hospital and the stay is arranged by the NHS, payment of AA/DLA stops after 4 weeks (12 weeks in the case of a disabled child under 16). Your Carer s Allowance will stop at the same time. If the person you are caring for is terminally ill and the DWP is aware of this, AA/DLA may continue if they go into a non-nhs hospice. Carer s Allowance will also remain payable, as long as you are still providing care for 35 hours a week. If the person you are caring for goes into a care home, their AA/DLA and your Carer s Allowance will stop if their care home fees are met in full by NHS continuing care funding, or in full or in part by the local authority. If the person is self-funding (responsible for paying all of the care home fees), AA/DLA may still be payable. So will Carer s Allowance, as long as you are still providing care for 35 hours a week. If the person you are caring for needs regular periods of respite care, it may be possible to plan these periods so that AA/DLA and Carer s Allowance are not affected. Seek advice if this applies to you. Note: Age UK has other factsheets on Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and care home funding. See section 12 for details of how to obtain these. Factsheet 55 April of 17

8 7.2 If the person you care for dies If the person you are caring for dies, Carer s Allowance can continue to be paid for up to eight weeks after their death. You will still need to satisfy the other rules, for example earn no more than 100 a week. The eight-week period runs from the Sunday after the death, or from the day of the death if it occurred on a Sunday. 7.3 Invalid Care Allowance There are some special rules that apply to people who were entitled to Invalid Care Allowance (the old name for Carer s Allowance) on 27 October 2002, and who were aged 65 or over at that time. If this applies to you, you will still be able to get Carer s Allowance even if you stop caring for the disabled person for any reason, or if you start to earn more than 100 a week. 7.4 Breaks from caring Once you have been caring for someone for a while you can have short breaks from caring without it affecting your benefit. The usual qualifying period before you can have a break is 22 weeks, but it can be up to 8 weeks shorter if you or the person you care for have been in hospital. Weeks that you spent caring before you claimed Carer s Allowance can count towards the 22 weeks, as long as the person you care for was receiving AA/DLA at the appropriate rate. You can have up to four weeks break from caring, for any reason, in any 26- week period. If you are in hospital, your Carer s Allowance can continue for up to 12 weeks. You cannot have more than 12 weeks break from care in any 26-week period. 7.5 Going abroad Temporary absence abroad If you go abroad, you remain entitled to Carer s Allowance if your absence is temporary and does not exceed four weeks. If you are not abroad with the person you care for, you also need to satisfy the conditions for a break in caring set out in section 7.4. Factsheet 55 April of 17

9 If your main purpose in going abroad is to care for the disabled person, and they remain entitled to AA, DLA care component (highest or middle rate) or Constant Attendance Allowance the four week limit does not apply. Exporting Carer s Allowance Sometimes Carer s Allowance, AA and DLA can be paid if you leave the UK to live in another European Economic Area (EEA) state or Switzerland. If you have already moved to another EEA state or Switzerland and your Carer s Allowance was stopped when you left, you may be able to get it reinstated. The rules are complex, especially because the rights you have under European Union law depend on when you made your claim for benefit. In addition, the law in this area is still being challenged and clarified. For further information and/or to request a claim form write to: Exportability Co-ordinator, Room C216, Pension, Disability and Carers Service, Warbreck House, Warbreck Hill Road, Blackpool FY2 OYE or If you have internet access there is more information on the Government website: Or seek advice from a local Age UK or another independent organisation. 8 Carer s Allowance and other benefits Carer s Allowance has a complicated relationship with other benefits, and because of this, some carers miss out on their full entitlement. It is also possible that your claim for Carer s Allowance will affect the benefits entitlement of the person you care for. 8.1 State pension You cannot normally receive both Carer s Allowance and State Pension because of overlapping benefit rules. However, if your pension is less than the Carer s Allowance rate of you will be entitled to a top-up of Carer s Allowance to that amount. Factsheet 55 April of 17

10 If your State Pension is more than and you qualify for Carer s Allowance, you will be awarded an underlying entitlement only. You won t be paid any Carer s Allowance, but the underlying entitlement might help you to qualify for higher rates of means-tested benefits like Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. These benefits include an extra allowance for carers known as a carer s premium or carer s additional amount. This means that getting an underlying entitlement to Carer s Allowance can be worthwhile if you are on a fairly low income, because it can allow you to claim these benefits for the first time or to get an increase if you are already claiming. Many carers, especially those over State Pension age, could be helped by the underlying entitlement rules. Example: Olive is 63 and has a total income of 145 a week, from her State Pension ( ) and private pension ( 42.85). She does not qualify for Pension Credit because her income is more than the basic Pension Credit level for someone of her age. Olive is caring for her mother who gets Attendance Allowance. She applies for Carer s Allowance but only gets an underlying entitlement because her State Pension is more than the level of Carer s Allowance. But, because she has the entitlement to Carer s Allowance her Pension Credit rate is now the basic rate of plus the carer addition of This means that she is now entitled to Pension Credit of to bring her income up to the Pension Credit rate. See Age UK s Factsheet 48, Pension Credit, for more information. 8.2 Other overlapping benefits There are a number of other benefits that overlap with Carer s Allowance in the same way as State Pension: contribution-based Jobseeker s Allowance contributory Employment and Support Allowance Widowed Parent s Allowance Bereavement Allowance Maternity Allowance Incapacity Benefit Severe Disablement Allowance Widow s Pension Factsheet 55 April of 17

11 Widowed Mothers Allowance. The last four benefits in this list have been abolished for new claimants but are still received by some people who were receiving them before abolition. If you are receiving any of these benefits at a rate of less than a week, your Carer s Allowance will be a top-up to this amount. If your other benefit is more than a week, you will not be paid any Carer s Allowance but you will be awarded an underlying entitlement. This can qualify you for increased means-tested benefits because carers receive an extra allowance known as a carer s premium or additional amount. So an underlying entitlement to Carer s Allowance might mean that you qualify for the first time for meanstested benefits like income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Action: If you are awarded Carer s Allowance or an underlying entitlement to Carer s Allowance, make sure you check out whether you can get more means-tested benefits. You may want to ask your local Age UK or another independent advice agency to check your entitlement. 8.3 The benefits of the person you are caring for In some situations the person you care for could lose money if you start to receive Carer s Allowance. This could happen if the person you care for receives the severe disability premium or extra amount for severe disability as part of Pension Credit, Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker s Allowance, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. Their benefits will not be affected if you are awarded an underlying entitlement to Carer s Allowance only. Action: You should get advice on how a claim for Carer s Allowance might affect the benefit entitlement of the person you look after, as well as your own entitlement. Factsheet 55 April of 17

12 9 National Insurance Credits If you are entitled to Carer s Allowance, national insurance contributions will be credited automatically to protect your right to a future State Pension, unless you have retained the right to pay the married woman s reduced-rate contributions. Entitlement to Carer s Allowance can also help you build up State Second Pension. If you are under State Pension age and you become sick, you may qualify for Employment and Support Allowance based on national insurance credits from when you were receiving Carer s Allowance. 9.1 Carers Credit If you are a carer, but do not qualify for Carer s Allowance (perhaps because the person you look after does not get DLA or AA, or you do not care for them for 35 hours a week), you may still be able to qualify for carer s national insurance credits. These credits are available to people spending 20 hours a week or more caring for a severely disabled person. They are also available to people getting Child Benefit for a child under 12 and registered foster carers. The application pack for Carer s Credit, form CC1, can be obtained online from or from the Benefit Enquiry Line see Section 11 for details. 10 Council Tax Reductions for Carers Some carers are entitled to Council Tax reductions. If you have left your usual home to go and live somewhere else to care for someone, your usual home may be exempt from Council Tax if you still own it and it is unoccupied. Some carers are also ignored when assessing the Council Tax liability of the property they live in, and this can lead to entitlement to various discounts. See Age UK s Factsheet 21, Council Tax, for more information. Factsheet 55 April of 17

13 11 Useful organisations Benefit Enquiry Line Government-run information line about benefits for people with disabilities, carers and representatives. Issues claim forms and can also advise on how to complete them. Tel: Textphone for deaf people: Website: Carer s Allowance Unit DWP office responsible for administering Carer s Allowance. Issues claim forms, deals with new claims and changes of circumstances. Address: Carers Allowance Unit, Palatine House, Lancaster Road, Preston PR1 1HB Telephone: Textphone: Carers UK National charity representing and working on behalf of carers. Offers wide range of information on carers rights and sources of help and contact details for local carers support groups. Tel: (free call) Website: Citizens Advice Bureau National network of free, independent advice centres. Depending on available resources may offer benefits check and help filling forms. Tel: (for local contact details only not telephone advice) Website: Factsheet 55 April of 17

14 Community Legal Service National network of Legal Services Commission-funded organisations and advice providers that fund, provide and promote civil legal aid services free and independent legal advice for residents of England and Wales. Tel: Website: Direct gov The official government website for information for citizens. Website: Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance helpline Government-run helpline on disability benefits for disabled people and their carers. Tel: Textphone: Jobcentre Plus Part of the Department for Work and Pensions, providing help and advice on jobs and training for people who can work and financial help for those who cannot. Tel: Textphone: Factsheet 55 April of 17

15 12 Further information from Age UK Age UK Information Materials Age UK publishes a large number of free Information Guides and Factsheets on a range of subjects including money and benefits, health, social care, consumer issues, end of life, legal, issues employment and equality issues. Whether you need information for yourself, a relative or a client our information guides will help you find the answers you are looking for and useful organisations who may be able to help. You can order as many copies of guides as you need and organisations can place bulk orders. Our factsheets provide detailed information if you are an adviser or you have a specific problem. Age UK Advice Visit the Age UK website, or call Age UK Advice free on if you would like: further information about our full range of information products to order copies of any of our information materials to request information in large print and audio expert advice if you cannot find the information you need in this factsheet contact details for your nearest local Age UK Factsheet 55 April of 17

16 Age UK Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. We provide advice and information for people in later life through our, publications, online or by calling Age UK Advice. Age UK Advice: Website: In Wales, contact: Age Cymru: Website: In Scotland, contact: Age Scotland: Website: In Northern Ireland, contact: Age NI: Website: Support our work Age UK is the largest provider of services to older people in the UK after the NHS. We make a difference to the lives of thousands of older people through local resources such as our befriending schemes, day centres and lunch clubs; by distributing free information materials; and through calls to Age UK Advice on If you would like to support our work by making a donation please call Supporter Services on (8.30 am 5.30 pm) or visit Factsheet 55 April of 17

17 Legal statement Age UK is a registered charity (number ) and company limited by guarantee (number ). The registered address is Pentonville Road, London, N1 9UZ. VAT number: Age Concern England (charity number ) and Help the Aged (charity number ) and their trading and other associated companies merged on 1 April Together they have formed Age UK, a single charity dedicated to improving the lives of people in later life. Age Concern and Help the Aged are brands of Age UK. The three national Age Concerns in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have also merged with Help the Aged in these nations to form three registered charities: Age Scotland, Age Northern Ireland, Age Cymru. Disclaimer and copyright information This factsheet has been prepared by Age UK and contains general advice only which we hope will be of use to you. Nothing in this factsheet should be construed as the giving of specific advice and it should not be relied on as a basis for any decision or action. Age UK does not accept any liability arising from its use. We aim to ensure the information is as up to date and accurate as possible, but please be warned that certain areas are subject to change from time to time. Please note that the inclusion of named agencies, companies, products, services or publications in this factsheet does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by Age UK. Age UK. All rights reserved. This factsheet may be reproduced in whole or in part in unaltered form by local Age UK/Age Concerns with due acknowledgement to Age UK. No other reproduction in any form is permitted without written permission from Age UK. Factsheet 55 April of 17

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