It may be that you don’t think of yourself as a carer, but if you look after someone regularly, such as a family member or your spouse because they’re ill or disabled, then you probably are.
There may be a number of benefit options available to you if you cannot work because you are caring for someone with an illness or disability.
What do carers do?
Carers help those who are unwell or disabled with everyday tasks such as:
- Taking medicine, washing and/or dressing
- Getting out and about, for example to go to the shops etc.
- Getting to and from doctor’s appointments
- Paying bills and keeping finances in check
- Keeping someone company and/or watching over them if it’s unsafe for them to be left alone.
The main state benefit available to carers is Carer’s Allowance. In the 2019/20 tax year this is £66.15 a week and it can be claimed by people who look after someone for more than 35 hours each week.
There’s a chance that you may not be able to claim Carer’s Allowance if you are claiming £66.15 or more from another source of benefit. However, it’s still worth applying as you may have what is called ‘an underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance – which could help increase other benefits amounts that you are getting.
If you’re not in paid employment because you’re caring for someone else, Carer’s Credit can help fill gaps in your National Insurance (NI) record to make sure that you can still claim your State Pension when you reach the qualifying age.
Carer’s Credit is usually given to people who are caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week and are not claiming Carer’s Allowance. It isn’t means-tested so your income, savings or investments will not affect your eligibility in any way.
Carer’s Premium – which is currently £36.85 a week – is a benefit for carers that is sometimes given as an extra allowance on top of the following means-tested benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
In order to qualify for Carer’s Premium, you must be entitled to Carer’s Allowance – even if it is not actually being paid to you. For example, you may be receiving payments of another benefit, such as State Pension which stops you from getting Carer’s Allowance – but as long as you have an underlying entitlement to the benefit e.g. you meet all the other requirements for it, then you should still receive Carer’s Premium. In Universal Credit, the carer’s element is calculated monthly and is £160.20 a month.
Disability Living Allowance for Children
If you’re the parent or carer of a disabled child (under 16), then you may be able to apply for a separate benefit of between £22.65 and £145.35 a week. This applies to children who have difficulty walking or need much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability.
You can apply to your local council for a Carer’s Assessment – where someone from the council will come round to see if they can help to make your life easier. An assessment is completely free and anyone over 18 can request one.
For example, you may be offered:
- advice about carer’s benefits
- links to local carers’ support groups
- help with taxi costs if you don’t drive
- help with housework/gardening
- opportunities to have someone come in and take over so that you can have a break
- a gym membership to keep healthy and relieve stress
- moving and handling training so you can lift the person you’re caring for in a way that’s safe for both of you
If you’re caring for a child, you can contact the children with disabilities department.