Caring for a loved one due to an illness or disability can be difficult for a multitude of reasons but not least because of the financial impact.
While you don’t want to (and can’t) turn your back on your parent, partner, child – or whoever may need looking after, doing so means that you aren’t at work and therefore not earning money. This can make day-to-day life even more of a struggle than it perhaps already is and will only add to the stress. But, for that reasons, financial support is available – do you know what you are entitled to?
So many people either aren’t aware or simply don’t claim for these benefits. In fact, millions of pounds of carers’ benefits go unclaimed each year according to Age UK. Why struggle by when help is available to you?
So, what is Carer’s Allowance?
Carer’s Allowance is the main welfare benefit for carers and, if you are eligible, currently pays £62.10 a week. On top of this you will also receive National Insurance credits each week towards your pension if you are under pension age.
It is important to note that you don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for to claim for Carer’s Allowance.
And, more importantly, are you entitled to it?
You might not have considered Carer’s Allowance because you don’t see yourself as a carer. Maybe because you see the help you give your parent or spouse as something you should be doing and want to do.
But, you can claim this if you:
- Spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
- Are aged 16 or over
- Aren’t in full-time education
- Earn £110 a week or less
It is also important to be aware that Carer’s Allowance can affect other benefits you might already be receiving and the benefits of the person you are caring for.
So, when can’t you get Carer’s Allowance?
You usually won’t be able to claim for this if you’re already claiming State Pension or certain income-replacing benefits such as contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance.
However, it might still be worth making a claim because you could be entitled to at least top up income on other benefits – in the place of Carer’s Allowance.
So, how do you claim for Carer’s Allowance?
Firstly, if you still aren’t sure what you are entitled to, your local Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice will be able to tell you based on your personal situation.
To request a claim pack you can call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321 or download one from the Government Website.
Be aware that you do need to inform the Carer’s Allowance Unit if your circumstances change, for example if the person you care for goes into hospital or you take a break from caring for them.
Article written by Patrick Vernon on behalf of the Money Advice Service