Benefits for carers - Hertfordshire County Council

Benefits for carers

 This factsheet was produced in April 2019. See website for latest version.
This factsheet is about the main benefits for carers. If you need information
about benefits for people who are disabled or have limited capacity for work
please see our factsheets on

Carer’s allowance

This is the main benefit for carers. It can be paid if you regularly look after someone
who is disabled or has health problems and you satisfy certain other conditions.

You do not have to be related to the person you are looking after, or live at the same
address, to get carer’s allowance. You do not need a national insurance contribution
record and your savings are ignored. There is an earnings rule for the claimant (see
below), but, if you have a partner, their income does not affect your right to carer’s
allowance. The benefit is taxable and counts as income for means-tested benefits
and tax credits.

You can only get one lot of carer’s allowance even if you are looking after more than
one person. You can receive the benefit if you are looking after your partner. If you
and your partner are both carers, you can both get carer’s allowance if you are
caring for different people (including each other).

How much is carer’s allowance worth?

From April 2018 the weekly rate is £66.15.

Carer’s allowance cannot be paid at the same time as some other benefits, such as
state pension or contributory employment and support allowance. This is called the
‘overlapping benefit rule’. If you can’t be paid carer’s allowance because of this rule,
you have ‘underlying entitlement’ instead. This means that you may be able to get
increased amounts of other benefits – see below for further information.

Will I get carer’s allowance?

To qualify for carer’s allowance, you must satisfy the following conditions:

       be aged 16 or over
       spend at least 35 hours a week looking after someone who gets attendance
        allowance, or DLA middle or highest rate care component, or either rate of
        PIP daily living component
       not be in full-time education; this generally means a course described as full-
        time by the educational establishment, or a course involving supervised study
        of 21 hours a week or more - seek advice if in doubt.
       not earn over £123 per week (after tax, national insurance, care costs while
        you are at work and half of what you pay into your pension)

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   have no restrictions on your right to stay in the UK - seek advice if in doubt

       be present in Great Britain, and have been here for at least two out of the last
        three years

       pass the habitual residence test

How do I claim carer’s allowance?

You cannot get carer’s allowance until the person you look after has been awarded
attendance allowance, DLA or PIP at the appropriate rate. It can take several months
for these claims to be processed. However, if you claim carer’s allowance within
three months of the person you care for getting their decision about attendance
allowance, DLA or PIP, you will be paid carer’s allowance from the date their benefit
started. If you claim later than this, your claim can only be backdated for three

Example: Anwar claims attendance allowance on 1 January and gets the decision
awarding it on 1 March. His carer has until 1 June to claim carer’s allowance. If they
claim by then, the benefit will be backdated to 1 January as well. If they leave it until
15 June, carer’s allowance will only be backdated to 15 March.

You can claim carer’s allowance by:
     phoning the Carer’s Allowance Unit: 0800 731 0297 or
        textphone 0800 731 0317
     downloading a form or applying online at
If you claim carer’s allowance, and you are aged between 18 and the state pension
age, you may be offered a work-focused interview at a Jobcentre Plus office, to
discuss your prospects of getting into work or training. The work-focused interview is
not compulsory if you are only claiming carer’s allowance, but, if you or your partner
are claiming other benefits as well, you may be obliged to attend.

Can I have time off from caring and still get carer’s

Once you have been caring for a disabled person for a while, you can take a break
from caring without losing your carer’s allowance. In any six month period you may
still be able to get carer’s allowance for:

   up to four weeks for holidays or other breaks in caring

   up to twelve weeks, if you go into hospital for at least eight weeks

If the person you care for goes into hospital, your carer’s allowance will stop after
four weeks, at the same time as their attendance allowance, PIP or DLA stops.
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You should tell the relevant benefit offices about any hospital stays, or if the person
you look after goes into a care home.

If the person you care for dies, you can get carer’s allowance for up to eight weeks
following their death (or possibly longer if you have been getting carer’s allowance
since before 28 October 2002).

What about my national insurance contributions?

If you claim carer’s allowance you will be automatically credited with national
insurance contributions to help you to qualify for a state pension. Alternatively, if you
do not qualify for carer’s allowance you can apply for a carer’s credit to make these
contributions as long as you are caring for at least 20 hours a week. If the person
you look after does not get attendance allowance, DLA highest or middle rate care
component, or PIP daily living component, you can still apply for carer’s credit, but
your application must be signed by a health or social care professional.

See for more information or phone the Carer’s Allowance
Unit on 0800 731 0297.

Does carer’s allowance affect other benefits?

You cannot be paid carer’s allowance while you are getting at least the same amount
from the following benefits (this is known as the overlapping benefits rule):

       state pension
       contributory employment and support allowance
       incapacity benefit
       contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance
       maternity allowance
       bereavement allowance or widowed parent’s allowance

If your partner gets an addition for you as their dependant as part of their benefit, this
may stop if you claim carer’s allowance.

Seek advice if you are getting one of these benefits and are not sure if you will be
better off by claiming carer’s allowance.

If you claim carer’s allowance and have little, or no, other money coming in you may
be able to claim means-tested benefits as well. Carer’s allowance is treated as
income for means-tested benefits but you could be better off by up to £36.85 per
week as you will get an extra amount for caring added into the calculation. If you
cannot get carer’s allowance because you get another overlapping benefit instead, it
may still be worth claiming because you may get extra means-tested benefit due to
the carer premium/addition.
Example: George looks after his wife Antonia, who gets attendance allowance. He
has a state pension of £129.20 per week and she gets £77.45. This is topped up by
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pension credit of £48.60. George applies for carer’s allowance. He won’t get it,
because his pension is higher than the carer’s allowance but he receives a letter
from the Carer's Allowance Unit confirming that he has 'underlying entitlement' to
carer's allowance. George asks the Pension Service to reassess his pension credit,
resulting in an extra £36.85 per week because of the carer addition, bringing the
pension credit up to £85.45.


If you claim carer’s allowance, this may affect the benefits paid to the person you
look after. If they have a severe disability premium included in any income support,
pension credit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment
and support allowance, housing benefit or council tax support, their severe disability
premium will stop if you are paid carer’s allowance. However if you cannot be paid
carer’s allowance because of the overlapping benefit rule, the person you care for
won’t lose their severe disability premium although they will still lose it if you get
universal credit with a carer element (see p.6). Get advice before claiming in these

You are exempt from the benefit cap if you are getting carers allowance or have
underlying entitlement to it.

Pension Credit

Pension credit provides a minimum level of income to anyone who is older than the
state pension age. This is gradually increasing and will reach 66 by October 2020
and 67 between 2026 and 2028

Couples where one partner is under pension credit age, and the other over, currently
have the option of claiming either pension credit or universal credit. However from
15 May 2019 both members of a couple must be over state pension age in order to
qualify for pension credit. Mixed aged couples will have to claim universal credit
instead although those couples entitled to pension credit or pension age housing
benefit before that date will be protected until certain changes apply. The usual three
month backdating rule will apply so it will still be possible to make a backdated claim
for pension credit or pension age housing benefit up until 13 August 2019 provided
the couple met the entitlement conditions prior to 15 May. See extra money for
people over state pension age on

Pension credit is made up of two parts – guarantee credit and savings credit:

       guarantee credit can top-up your weekly income to £167.25 for a single
        person and £255.25 for a couple. These figures can be significantly higher for
        carers and disabled people

       savings credit is an extra payment for people aged 65 and over who have
        modest incomes or have saved for their retirement; however it is only
        available to those who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.
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There is no fixed limit on the level of savings you can have to get pension credit but
savings above £10,000 will reduce the amount of pension credit that you get.

Pension credit can be backdated for up to three months without having to provide a
reason for the claim being late.

How to claim pension credit
Phone the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 or download a claim form

Universal credit

Universal credit (UC) has replaced new claims for income support, income-based
jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, housing
benefit and tax credits for people under state pension age (although from May 15
new claims from couples where one is over pension age and the other under will
have to be for universal credit rather than pension credit).

People can claim universal credit if they are on a low income and have savings of
£16,000 or less, whether working, unemployed, unfit for work or caring.

Universal credit contains amounts for the claimant (and partner) and elements for
dependent children, childcare costs, limited capability for work related activity, caring
and housing costs.

If you are an owner-occupier you can only get help with mortgage interest through a

If you are a renter the housing element rules are broadly similar to those in housing

However, if you live in ‘temporary’ or ‘specified’ accommodation your housing
support will still be paid by housing benefit rather than universal credit:

Universal credit claimants will usually be expected to look for full time work of 35
hours a week. However, if you have caring responsibilities for a severely disabled
person (who gets attendance allowance, DLA mid or highest care component or PIP
daily living component) for at least 35 hours a week you will have no work-related
requirements. If your caring responsibilities are less than this you should still be able
to ask the Jobcentre to restrict your work search and availability to make them
compatible with your caring responsibilities.

Carer’s allowance remains a stand-alone benefit and will be deducted in full from any
universal credit award.

Carers who look after a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week will be
able to get an extra amount for caring in their universal credit and don’t need to claim
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claim carer’s allowance to get it. Working carers can retain the carer element even if
earning more than the earnings limit for carer’s allowance.

If you are single only one carer element can be included even if you care for more
than one disabled person. If you are making a joint claim with a partner, you can get
two carer elements if both of you satisfy the conditions, provided you are not caring
for the same person. If you are caring for the same person you can decide which of
you should be entitled.

However, if you get the carer element in your universal credit, the person you look
after won’t be able to get a severe disability premium in any pension credit, income
support, income-related ESA, income-based JSA, or housing benefit.

Carers who are also ill and disabled will only be able to get an extra amount for
limited capability for work related activity or caring, not both. However, couples
where one meets the conditions for caring, and the other, those for limited capability
for work related activity, can get both.

Carers who receive any of the means-tested benefits that universal credit replaces,
like income support, housing benefit and tax credits (legacy benefits), will be
moved on to UC at some point between 2020-2024. If you are part of this ‘managed
migration’ you should receive transitional protection if you would be worse off.

If you experience a change which prompts a new need that, prior to the introduction
of UC, would have been met by a further claim to one of the benefits that UC has
replaced, you may have to claim universal credit earlier instead. In these
circumstances you will not get any transitional protection. However, claimants
entitled to a severe disability premium at some point within the last month (who
continue to satisfy the conditions for that premium) cannot claim UC and will
continue to be able to claim legacy benefits.

Seek advice first if you are currently getting a legacy benefit but are considering
making a claim for UC to make sure you will not be worse off.

How to claim universal credit

Universal credit is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. It is an
online system and claims should be made via

If you cannot claim online you should be able to get help in one of the following

       over the telephone from the universal credit helpline tel. 0800 328 9344
       in your local jobcentre
       from Citizens Advice ‘Help to Claim’ service tel. 0800 144 8 444

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Backdating of UC is limited to a maximum of one month but only for specific
circumstances which include disability, illness, and official on-line application system

For more information on universal credit see

Council Tax Support (also called Council Tax

There are ten different council tax reduction schemes in Hertfordshire. You may be
able to get help if you are on a low income and have savings under a certain amount
although most working age claimants now have to pay something towards their
council tax.

Some groups may be protected in certain areas, including those with disabilities,
carers and families with young children. Some schemes also have additional help for
those returning to work. If you are struggling to pay your council tax you may also be
able to get help from a special hardship fund operated by the district or borough

Council tax reduction is not being replaced by universal credit. See your local
council’s website for more details on the scheme that applies to you.

Other help is also available with council tax – see below for more information.

Other help with Council Tax

Second adult rebate
If you have someone on a low income living with you as part of your family (ie, they
do not pay you rent or board on a commercial basis) you might be able to get help
with your council tax even if your income or savings are too high to get ordinary
council tax support. This is called second adult rebate and is paid by some local
councils in Hertfordshire. It can reduce your council tax bill by 25%.

Council tax discounts
The discount scheme is not means-tested, but instead looks at the number of adults
(people over 18) living in the property. To qualify for a discount there normally needs
to be fewer than two adults living in the house. For example, the single person
discount gives a 25% reduction if you live alone. However, some people may be
disregarded or treated as ‘invisible’ for discount purposes.

These may include:

       people who are severely mentally impaired – this can mean people who have
        a learning disability, dementia, or someone with a severe head injury. They
        need to be on a qualifying benefit such as personal independence payment
        daily living component, disability living allowance middle or highest rate care
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component, attendance allowance, employment and support allowance,
        universal credit (with limited capability for work or work related activity
        elements). Some other benefits may also help you qualify under this route.
        Contact your local council for details of their schemes.

       some carers – if you are an informal carer you must live in the same property
        as the person you look after and care for them for at least 35 hours a week.
        The person you are caring for can’t be your partner and, if you are a parent
        carer, your child should be at least 18 years old. The cared-for person must
        be getting any rate of attendance allowance, or the middle or highest rate of
        DLA care component, either rate of the daily living component of PIP, or
        constant attendance allowance. There are different rules for paid carers – you
        are not classed as a paid carer if you get carer’s allowance.

Disability reduction scheme
You may be able to get a disability reduction if the home has an additional bathroom
or kitchen needed by the disabled person, a room predominantly used by them or a
wheelchair is used indoors. If you qualify for a disability reduction your council tax bill
is reduced by one band. If your council tax is already at the lowest band A, the
disability reduction will reduce your bill by one sixth.

Exempt properties
Some properties are exempt from council tax altogether, for example, some empty
homes in certain circumstances or homes wholly occupied by those who are
‘severely mentally impaired’.

For more information check your local council’s website.

How are carers affected by the benefit cap?

Certain benefit payments to working age households are subject to a benefit cap.
However, some households are excluded from the cap, for example, if you are
getting carer’s allowance (including those with an underlying entitlement), the carer
element in universal credit or guardian’s allowance.

You are also exempt if you or your partner is getting attendance allowance, DLA,
PIP, industrial injuries disablement benefit, or is in the support group for ESA or has
universal credit with the limited capability for work element. The cap will also not
apply if you are looking after a dependent child who gets DLA or PIP. Some working
households are also excluded.

For more information about the benefit cap see

What can I do if I am unhappy with a benefit
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If you are unhappy with any decision about carer’s allowance or other DWP benefits
you can ask the DWP to look at their decision again. This is called a mandatory
reconsideration. You have one month from the date of the decision letter to do this
although this time limit can be extended in special circumstance.

If you are still not happy after having a mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal to
an independent tribunal.

See our factsheet on challenging decisions and
seek advice if necessary.

We hope you have found this factsheet, useful. If you have any comments to make
about content – things you would like to see or other changes you think we should
make, please let us know on

Unfortunately, we can’t assist with individual benefit queries – please see list of
advice agencies below.

Further help and advice

Citizens Advice                                          0344 4111 444
Online information:                            
Information about local CA and opening times:  

Carers in Hertfordshire                                  Tel: 01992 586969
                                                         The Red House, 119 Fore
                                                         Hertford, SG14 1AX

Carers Direct                                            Tel: 0300 123 1053

Carer’s Allowance Unit (DWP)                             Tel: 0800 731 0297
                                                         Textphone: 0800 731 0317
                                                         Carers Allowance Unit
                                                         Mail Handling Site A
                                                         WV98 2AB

Government information on benefits and services

How you can contact Hertfordshire County Council
Our website

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Information about adult social care – find about care services, day centres and apply
online for meals on wheels or a Blue Badge. You can also comment, compliment
and complain.

Hertfordshire Directory
Find national and local community groups, charities, services and activities

Independent information and advice on local community services and care funding
Telephone: 0300 123 4044
Minicom: 0300 456 2364

Contact us
For information on how to get care and support
Telephone: 0300 123 4042
Textphone: 0300 123 4041
                British Sign Language (BSL) video interpreting service available
                Monday to Friday 8am-6pm.

Drop in
To your local library – see

If you are worried that you or someone you know is at risk of abuse or neglect
Call us on 0300 123 4042 (24 hours a day)

If you need help to understand
Call 0300 123 4042 if you would like help to understand this information or need it in a
different format. You can also ask to speak to someone in your own language.

Calls to 0300 cost no more than a national rate call to a 01 or 02 number

     This information is correct at time of print. It is for guidance only and is not an
                           authoritative statement of the law.

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