If you care for someone who claims a disability benefit you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance. If you are claiming Universal Credit you may be enttled to the Carer's Element.
To claim Carer's Allowance you must:
- Be aged 16 or over;
- Spend at least 35 hours a week looking after the person in need of care;
- Have net earnings of less than £128 a week, from April 2021. Any childcare costs or replacement care costs associated with working can be deducted from your earnings when calculating whether you qualify. For more information see work-related costs and Carer's Allowance;
- If you are in full-time education, to be entitled you must spend less than 21 hours in 'supervised study', and not doing a course described as full-time by the college or establishment providing it.
In addition, the person for whom you care must be claiming (or waiting to hear about):
- Attendance Allowance,
- Disability Living Allowance (middle or higher rate for personal care),
- 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.
- Personal Independence Payment (Daily Living Component at either Standard or enhanced rate).
You must be over 16 to claim but there is no upper age limit. The person you care for can be anyone, including a relative. It can be paid to more than one person in a household, such as a couple caring for each other.
To claim the Carer's Element of Universal Credit the eligibility rules are the same as for Carer's Allowance, but there is no earnings limit involved. Also, if you are receiving a Limited Capability for Work element (LCW or LCWRA) in your Universal Credit the same person can't get the Carer's Element as well, whichever element is highest will be awarded.
If the person you are caring for gets a means-tested benefit they may lose their severe disability premium if you start claiming Carer’s Allowance (this does not apply if you are eligible but not receiving any money) or the Universal Credit Carer's Element. For more information see disability premiums in benefits.
How much do you get?
The weekly rate of Carer's Allowance from April 2021 is £67.60. This is reduced by the amount of certain other benefits that you get, including State Pension, Maternity Allowance, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Widows' Benefits and Bereavement Benefits or Incapacity Benefit. If you receive one of these benefits at £67.60 or more a week, you do not get a Carer's Allowance payment as well but you can get an extra amount called a carer premium in Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
The monthly rate of Carer's Element in Universal Credit is £163.73. If you receive Carer's Allowance your Universal Credit will be reduced by £1 for every £1 you receive. This means financially you will be no better off if you claim Carer's Allowance and the Carer Element of Universal Credit, instead of just claiming the Carer's Element, but you will not be worse off either.
Due to the complexities of carers' benefits, and the potential for it to have a detrimental effect on the benefit of the cared for person, we strongly advise you to seek further advice from a recognised advice agency before claiming Carer's Allowance and the Carer's Element of Universal Credit. Your local AgeUK branch or CAB may be able to help, or for more information about advice agencies see our more advice page.
Carer's Allowance / Carer's Element of Universal Credit and the benefit cap
If you are entitled to Carer's Allowance (even if you don't receive a payment due to other benefits you receive)or the Carer's Element of Universal Credit, your household will be exempt from the benefit cap.
Other benefits for carers
Even if you don't qualify for Carer's Allowance or the Carer's Element of Universal Credit you may be able to claim Carer’s Credit, where entitlement to the state pension can be built up by people caring 20 hours a week or more. For more information see Carer’s credit.
If you are aged 16-18 and live in Scotland you may also be able to apply for a Young Carer Grant of £308.15 a year. This new scheme opened on 21 October 2019 for young carers who spend an average of 16 hours caring for people who have received a disability benefit for at least 3 months. You can get this grant as well as Carer's Allowance if you meet the eligibility criteria for both. Apply online or by phoning Social Security Scotland for free on 0800 182 2222.
There is also an extra benefit for people in Scotland who get Carer's Allowance on a particular date, the Carer's Allowance Supplement. If you are already getting Carer's Allowance on the relevant dates you will automatically receive these payments. From April 2021 the rate will be £231.40 per payment. The next 2 rounds of payments are:
- £231.40 on 16 June 2021 - you'll get this payment if you're getting Carer's Allowance on 12 April 2021
- £231.40 from December 2021 - you'll get this payment if you're getting Carer's Allowance on 11 October 2021