Carers Allowance

What is CA?

Carer’s Allowance is a non-means tested non contributory benefit paid if you cannot work because you are caring for a severely disabled person.

Who can claim?

You must:

  • be spending at least 35 hours a week caring for a person who is receiving Attendance Allowance , Constant Attendance Allowance or DLA Care (Middle or Higher Rate).
  • be aged over 16
  • not be in full time education or earning more than £82.00pw from paid employment.

CA can be backdated for up to 3 months if the claimant has been looking after a severely disabled person who has been receiving AA/DLA during that time, or if an award of AA/DLA is backdated.

Other benefits of a CA claim

Apart from the monetary value of CA, there are other benefits to making a claim:

  • National Insurance credits - Carers on CA receive Class 1 National Insurance credits, which will help towards any other claim for contributory non-means tested benefits.
  • Child addition - to CA is non-taxable but was abolished for new claimants in April 2003.
  • Carers Premium - Receipt of CA, or an underlying entitlement to it, qualifies you for Carer’s Premium in Income Support and Housing & Council Tax benefit.
  • Signing-on – If you are in receipt of CA you do not need to sign on as available for work to get benefit.
  • Carers aged 16 and 17 - they are exempt from the restrictions on Income Support for under 18 year olds.
  • Pensioners - CA can lead to extra income in retirement (see below).

CA and Earnings

You cannot get CA if you earn more than £82.00 a week. Earnings are calculated as net earnings (less tax, National Insurance and half of any occupational pension contributions). Any expenses that are “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred during work can also be ignored. Earnings are averaged out over a number of weeks.

There are also rules about the earnings of any adult dependant, which affect the entitlement to adult and child dependant additions:

  • if the adult dependant earns more than the value of the adult addition, that payment is lost.
  • if the adult earns more than £170 a week, one child addition is lost. A further addition is lost for each extra £22.

How long is CA paid for?

CA is payable for as long as you satisfy the conditions. You can have a break for up to four weeks in every 6 months, when you stop looking after the disabled person, but continue to get CA. CA will stop if someone’s DLA Care/AA stops, after 4 weeks in hospital, residential care etc. This period is 12 weeks if the DLA claimant is a child under 16 in hospital.

CA and other benefits

Carer's Allowance is an ‘overlapping’ Benefit

You cannot be paid Carer’s Allowance while you are getting the same amount or more from another overlapping benefit. It may still be worth putting in a claim to establish an "underlying entitlement" to CA - this will then entitle you to the Carers Premium with Income Support, Housing and Council Tax Benefit. You can get Carer’s Allowance while claiming Disability Living Allowance (Care or Mobility) or Attendance Allowance for your own care and mobility needs - there is no contradiction in being a carer and being disabled.

Ca And Means Tested Benefits

CA counts in full as income against any means tested benefit that you may be claiming. As a result you do not stand to gain the full value of the CA:

  • Income Support, Pension Credit & HB/CTB: An award of CA (even if it is not paid because of an “overlapping” benefit) leads to a Carers Premium of £25.80. So CA is worth up to £25.80 if you are on Income Support. Two Premiums can be paid if there are two carers in the household.
  • HB/CTB only: An award of CA leads to the Carers Premium as above.

To Claim Or Not To Claim Ca?

In the situations above, you will not receive the full value of CA, but may only gain £25.80 Carers Premium. At the same time the fact that CA is paid will prevent the person you care for from having the Severe Disability Premium included in their IS or HB/CTB calculation (assuming they pass the “living alone” test for SDP). At most SDP can be worth £45.50 to the person with disabilities. So where you are considering claiming CA, a comparison should be made between the value of the CA to you against the loss (if any) to the person you care for.

Having Your Cake And Eating It

If you receive another non-means tested benefit (e.g. Bereavement Allowance) you cannot be paid CA as well because of the “overlapping” benefit rules – you retain an “underlying entitlement” to CA. However, you can still gain by having the Carer’s Premium included in any Income Support, Pension Credit or HB/CTB calculation. This is because the CP is included where you receive or have an underlying entitlement to CA. Since October 2002, CA has been available to over 65s. Most will not receive it however as it will ‘overlap’ with Retirement Pension. A claim however will increase many pensioners’ Pension Credit. In this situation though, the person being cared for can still get the Severe Disability Premium/addition, as the relevant SDP condition says that a carer must not be receiving CA. So where CA is not actually paid, you can get Carer’s Premium while the person being cared for can still benefit from a Severe Disability Premium/addition.

Backdating

CA can be backdated for up to three months if you satisfy the qualifying conditions over this period, you do not have to show any reasons why your claim is late. CA can be backdated further than this if: you made a claim for CA which was refused on the grounds that the person you care for was not receiving a qualifying benefit, and the disabled person had made a claim for DLA/Attendance Allowance which had not yet been determined but subsequently resulted in an award of Attendance Allowance or DLA Care middle or higher rate and a further CA claim was made within 3 months of the DLA/Attendance Allowance decision.

In this situation, your CA can be backdated either to the date of the earlier CA claim or the date of the DLA/Attendance Allowance award whichever is later.

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Last Updated: 29.07.2008 at 17:36

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