You may not think of yourself as a carer, but if you look after your partner, or a relative or friend who needs help because they are ill or disabled, then you are a carer, even if you don’t live with them.
Caring for someone can be rewarding but at times may also feel stressful and demanding. It’s important to look after yourself and ask for help if you need it. As a carer, you may be able to get financial help which can support you in your caring role and boost your income. You may think you’re not eligible for any help, but over £3 billion of benefits go unclaimed every year by older people, so it’s worth finding out what you could be entitled to.
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers and it’s worth £62.10 per week. To be eligible you must spend 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person who receives certain disability benefits (for example, Attendance Allowance or the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment). The care you give might include physically helping the person, doing practical tasks for them like cooking or keeping an eye on them to make sure they are safe and supported. If you’re caring for a partner, relative or friend in this way, then you could be eligible to claim. To get Carer’s Allowance you must not be in full-time education or earning more than £110 a week. To find out more, see the Gov.UK website information on Carer's Allowance.
You might have heard that if you receive a State Pension at more than £62.10 a week then you can’t claim Carer’s Allowance. But it’s still worth putting in a claim for it. That’s because you can still be awarded an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance, which means you meet all the criteria for Carer’s Allowance but can’t be paid it. An ‘underlying entitlement’ could lead to extra money paid with any means-tested benefits you get such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. If you want to claim Carer’s Allowance or find out more, call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321 or see Age UK’s free guide Carer’s Allowance.
Claiming Carer’s Allowance can open the door to more benefits and support. If you receive Carer’s Allowance, you will automatically get Carer’s Credit, a weekly national insurance credit for people who have given up work to care for someone. Getting Carer’s Credit will ensure you don’t lose out on your entitlement to a State Pension. If you have given up work to care but you don’t get Carer’s Allowance, you will need to make a claim for Carer’s Credit. For more information call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321.
As a carer, you may also be eligible for support with your Council Tax bill. You can get Council Tax Support if you’re on a low income or claim certain benefits, and you may get more if you receive Carer’s Allowance. Talk to your local council to find out more.
If you’re juggling work and caring responsibilities, you have the right to request flexible working from your employer. If you’re finding it difficult to fit your caring responsibilities around your job, think about other ways of working that would help you keep the balance. Common types of flexible working include part-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, home working and job-sharing. Your employer does not have to agree to it. However they can only refuse your application if they have a good business reason for doing so and they must offer you an appeal process.
Caring can be difficult but there is support available. Find out more about support for carers in Age UK’s Advice for carers (PDF file size:392kb) and get the help you’re entitled to.
See also the Turn2us Carers information