Should I reduce or stop work in order to care for a person with dementia?

What should you think about when deciding whether to reduce hours or stop working in order to support a relative or friend who has dementia?

Question:

I’m under pension age, but I may need to reduce my hours or stop working to care for my mum. What should I think about when deciding?

Answer:

Whether you should continue to juggle work with caring depends very much on your personal situation.

Working differently 

For some people, work’s important for their physical and mental health. Your job might give you a sense of purpose and keep you connected with other people. 

If working at different times or locations could make caring easier, ask your employer about flexible working. If you need to go along to appointments about your mum’s care, check whether you’re entitled to carer’s leave. 

Could working fewer hours help? Perhaps ask your employer about reducing hours, or see if there’s a job with hours that would suit better. 

Support for carers while working 

You could request an assessment for both you and your mother from adult social services. If eligible, they may put care in place to help you continue working. Make clear which aspects of care you’re willing and able to do, and which you need to take a step back from. 

If you earn less than £151 after expenses, you can claim Carer’s allowance, which is currently £81.90 per week. 

If you pay someone who isn’t a close relative to care for your mum while you work, this counts as an expense – up to a limit of half the value of your earnings. 

For example, if you earn £100 a week (after tax, national insurance and other expenses) and spend £60 a week on care while you work, you can treat £50 of this cost as an expense. 

Universal credit 

If you’ve reduced your hours or stopped working and need more financial support, you could make a claim for Universal credit. 

Because Universal credit is means-tested, income and savings belonging to you and your partner can affect how much you may receive. 

Some people can claim a carer’s premium of £45.60 per week that’s added to their Universal credit. You might also be able to add premiums for having a disability, children and rental costs. 

Other help if you stop 

If you stop working and don’t get other benefits, it’s still worth finding out about Carer’s credit. 

Although you won’t get money for this, it pays your national insurance (NI) to prevent gaps in your record. 

Your state pension is based on your NI record, so it’s important to consider. 

Depending on your age, you might want to take a workplace or private pension early (you can’t do this with your State pension). This could be as income or a lump sum, but you should get advice before deciding to do it. Speak to a specialist through MoneyHelper’s Pension Wise service.  

Benefits check 

Benefits are complicated, but a benefits check will help you find out what you’re entitled to. 

Your questions

Do you have a question you’d like our experts to answer in a future article? Email [email protected]

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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer's Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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My husband aged 83 has AD, Primary Schlerosing Colangitis and prostate cancer and I’m his sole carer. I applied for and now receive attendance allowance for him. I am 83 years old and I have this week been diagnosed with MPV JAK2 mutation. At present our daughter is helping out but she has five children and lives a two hour drive away from us and works full time from home. My husband has gone to stay with her temporarily. I fo not receive carer’s allowance as my state pension is more per week than the carer’s allowance. Can I claim attendance allowance now. I have asked for the appropriate forms to be sent to me.
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