Benefits

6. Carers' needs

Carer's allowance

This benefit can be paid to carers who spend at least 35 hours per week looking after someone who is receiving DLA (care component at highest or middle rate), PIP (daily living component at either rate) or Attendance allowance (at either rate). The carer does not have to be related to, or living with, the person they provide care for.

The benefit does not depend on National insurance contributions, but it is taxable. It gives most carers who are under State pension age a National insurance credit each week to help protect their State pension rights.

Carers must be over 16 when they first claim. In some cases, the person being cared for could lose some of their means-tested benefits if Carer's allowance is paid, so it is important to seek advice before making a claim.

Carers are not eligible for Carer's allowance if they earn more than a limited amount each week after the deduction of allowable expenses (such as Income tax and pension contributions), if they are in full-time education, or if they are receiving more than a specified amount from certain other pensions or benefits.

People entitled to Carer's allowance may be entitled to additional amounts in other benefits they are claiming, such as Income support or Pension credit. This may be the case even for those who are entitled to Carer's allowance but cannot receive the payments because they are already receiving certain other pensions or benefits. That is, if the person qualifies for Carers allowance but receives an 'overlapping benefit' - where you are eligible for different benefits but can only receive one at any one time. If you are a carer and are unsure about your entitlement, you should seek advice from Carers UK (for details see 'Other useful organisations').

Depending on their income, a carer may be able to claim a higher rate of benefit if their spouse or partner is dependent on them financially. If a carer has dependent children, they may also be able to claim Child tax credit.