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Benefits for carers

Carer's Allowance claims

If you're living with the person you look after and they're awarded Personal Independence Payment (PIP),  Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Attendance Allowance (AA), complete a claim form for Carer's Allowance as soon as possible after the award has been made. If they already get DLA or AA, make a claim now.

You can make a claim by calling the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321, or by claiming Carer's Allowance online.

However, if the person you look after is living alone and receives a means-tested benefit, your claim for Carer’s Allowance may affect their means-tested benefits. You can still make the claim for Carer’s Allowance, but should think carefully about the implications before you do.

Access to other benefits because of Carer’s Allowance

Getting Carer’s Allowance can mean that you're entitled to, or can get more of, the top-up benefits. For more information on what benefits you're entitled to try the entitledto benefits calculator.

You can apply online or download a claim form at GOV.UK and send it to the Carer's Allowance Unit. You can also ask the Carer's Allowance Unit to send you a printed version of the form in the post.

When to claim

Personal Independence Payment 

In April 2013, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) replaced DLA for disabled people aged 16 to 64.

Claim now if you look after someone who receives, or has recently been awarded, the following:

  • PIP daily living component
  • AA
  • DLA at the middle or highest rate of the care component 
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate as an addition to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit 
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the basic (full-day) rate as an addition to a War Disablement Pension
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) 

Try not to delay or you could lose part of a benefit. If there's a delay, check with the Carer's Allowance Unit to see whether your Carer’s Allowance can be backdated.

If you look after someone who has not yet claimed one of the benefits mentioned above, or has claimed but is waiting for a decision, you must wait for them to be awarded benefit before you can claim Carer’s Allowance.

The weekly rate of Carer’s Allowance is £61.35.

The official online source of government information on benefits can be found at GOV.UK.

Click on the bars below for more detailed information on claiming Carer's Allowance.

Carer's Allowance adult or child dependant increase

An adult dependant increase was paid for your spouse, your civil partner or an adult who lived with you and looked after a child for whom you got Child Benefit. Child Tax Credits may be claimed instead of a child dependant increase.

These increases in benefits, which could both be claimed alongside Carer's Allowance, have both been made defunct (the adult dependant increase in 2010 and the child dependant increase in 2003).

No new claims can be made now. However, if you were entitled to either of them before these dates, you may still be able to claim now. To do so, contact the Carer's Allowance Unit.

Backdating Carer's Allowance claims

Carer’s Allowance can usually only be backdated for a maximum of three months if you claim it within three months of a decision to award a qualifying benefit. These qualifying benefits are:

  • DLA at either the middle or highest rate of the care component.
  • Any level of AA.
  • Constant Attendance Allowance of at least £66.40 a week (the normal maximum rate), which is paid with a War Disablement Pension or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

As long as you make your claim for Carer’s Allowance within three months of the date of that decision, your Carer’s Allowance will be paid from the same date the DLA, AA or Constant Attendance Allowance is paid from. You will be paid the arrears of benefit you're owed.

You must request that your Carer’s Allowance claim is to be backdated and you must have satisfied all the rules for claiming Carer's Allowance during the period for which you want it to be backdated. You can also challenge a decision not to backdate Carer’s Allowance if your request is refused.

If you failed to claim Carer’s Allowance earlier because you were given the wrong information by the Carers Allowance Unit you may be able to ask for discretionary compensation or complain to the Ombudsman.

Payment of Carer's Allowance

Carer’s Allowance can be paid directly into an account either weekly in advance or every four weeks.

You can use an existing bank or building society account, or you can open a new account. Alternatively, you may want to use a Post Office card account or a credit union account. Bear in mind that not all bank or building society current accounts allow you to access the account at a Post Office.

If you don't receive your benefit payment when you would normally expect it, you will need to find out whether it's been lost or delayed for some reason, or whether the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has decided to suspend payment. If you have not been paid, the first thing to do is to find out why by contacting the Carer’s Allowance Unit.

If you have contacted the Carer’s Allowance Unit and discovered that your cheque or payment into your bank account has gone missing, you'll need to ask for a replacement to be issued as quickly as possible. If you're told that there will be a delay, you can ask for an interim payment to avoid any hardship.

Delays in receiving Carer's Allowance

Claims for Carer’s Allowance should be dealt with promptly by the DWP. If you're experiencing a delay in getting a decision on the claim, you can write to the Carer’s Allowance Unit to check on progress at Palatine House, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 1HB, or call on 0345 608 4321 (textphone 0345 604 5312) or email cau.customer-services@dwp.gsi.gov.uk. If your first language is not English or Welsh, ask for information about the interpreter service.

You can make a complaint about any delay you experience. You can also ask for an interim payment of benefit. This is a payment that can be made if the DWP believes that you're entitled to some benefit but it's not possible for the claim to be dealt with immediately.

If you're refused an interim payment, you can't appeal to a tribunal, but you may be able to apply for judicial review of the decision. If you're allowed an interim payment, the amount will be deducted from any later benefit payments.

Compensation for delay

You can ask for a discretionary payment if you lose money because of a delay in payment of benefit. This might cover, for example, the cost of telephone calls or stamps.

You may be entitled to compensation if:

  • The arrears of benefit are £100 or more.
  • The DWP causes a significant delay.
  • The compensation would be at least £10.
  • The delay exceeds nine months.

You can ask for a payment that covers the benefit you have lost, as well as an additional amount to cover interest on the arrears. Compensation payments are discretionary, so you should emphasise that the delay was caused by error or negligence on the part of the DWP. If you're refused compensation, you could consider asking your MP to take up your case.

You can also ask for a "consolatory" payment if you feel that the delays or errors have caused you gross inconvenience, or the DWP has embarrassed or humiliated you, or the distress the DWP has caused has affected your physical and/or mental health.

Suspended payments

There are some circumstances in which benefit payments can be suspended, including:

  • If you have been asked to supply further information or evidence and your benefit has been suspended because you didn't provide this within the given time period.
  • If the DWP is considering whether or not you're still entitled to the payment.
  • If the DWP believes it has overpaid you and is suspending payment while it investigates.

If your benefit has been suspended you could explain to the DWP that the suspension will cause hardship and ask for an interim benefit payment. If the DWP is still waiting for information, you can ask what's missing and try to provide this information.

There is no appeals procedure against the decision to suspend benefits. However, in extreme cases, you may be able to get legal help to challenge the decision in court.

Changing circumstances

If your circumstances change, you will need to let the Carer’s Allowance Unit know as it may affect your entitlement to Carer’s Allowance. It's best to put any changes in writing as soon as possible after the change has happened.

If your circumstances change in such a way that you may no longer be entitled to the benefit, you'll need to report the change as quickly as possible. You must report it to the Carer’s Allowance Unit, which you can write to at Palatine House, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 1HB, or call on  0345 608 4321 (textphone 0345 604 5312). If you don't act quickly, you may be overpaid benefit and have to pay it back.

Examples of a change in circumstances that might affect your Carer's Allowance include:

  • You are no longer spending at least 35 hours a week caring for the person you normally look after.
  • The person you look after stops receiving PIP, AA or the care component of DLA at the middle or highest rate.
  • The person you look after goes into residential care or hospital (their DLA or AA may be affected).
  • The person you're looking after has died.
  • You are going on holiday, into hospital yourself or had some other type of break from caring.
  • You are starting studying or have increased hours of study.
  • You take a paid job, or your earnings increase.

Carer's Allowance and hospital or care home stays

These rules only apply if you or the person you care for are getting treatment funded by the NHS. They do not apply if you are getting privately funded care.

Your Carer’s Allowance can stop if either you or the person you're looking after go into hospital or a care home. You should notify the Carer’s Allowance Unit, along with the disability benefit centre of the person you look after, of the dates either you or they spend in hospital or a care home.

If you go into hospital

Both hospital stays and holidays count as "breaks from caring". Up to four weeks in any 26-week period can be used for a holiday, during which time your Carer's Allowance will continue to be paid. If you go into hospital, your Carer’s Allowance continues to be paid for 12 weeks. However, Carer’s Allowance may stop sooner if you have already spent some of your "breaks from caring" time allowance on a holiday.

For example, if you've already had a break from caring for three weeks because you've been on holiday without the person you look after, and then you have to go into hospital, your Carer’s Allowance will be paid for up to the remaining nine weeks and will then stop if you're still in hospital after nine weeks.

For more information, see Going into hospital or the Age UK leaflet on going into hospital (PDF, 2Mb).

If the person you're looking after goes into hospital or a care home

This is a change of circumstances that can affect both your Carer’s Allowance and the PIP, DLA or AA of the person you look after.

In most cases, the DLA care component, PIP or AA will stop after the person you're looking after has been in hospital or a care home for 28 days, and that's when Carer’s Allowance will also stop. If the person you're looking after has been in hospital for less than 28 days, is discharged and then returns to hospital within 28 days of leaving, the two periods they're in hospital are added together and treated as one period.

If the person you're looking after goes into hospital and their PIP, DLA or AA has not stopped, you'll continue receiving Carer’s Allowance for up to 12 weeks while they're in hospital. During these 12 weeks, you don't have to provide any care. After these 12 weeks, you will have to show that you're still providing 35 hours of care each week for your Carer's Allowance to continue.

If the person you look after goes into a care home temporarily or for a short break in a care home and their PIP, DLA or AA has not stopped, you'll continue to receive Carer’s Allowance for up to four weeks in any 26-week period. During these four weeks, you don't have to provide any care. After these four weeks, you'll have to show that you're still providing 35 hours of care each week in order for your Carer’s Allowance to continue.

Comments

The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

charliedavies said on 04 November 2011

My neice cares for me, she dont work but gets benfits she has a son of one, would her benfits stop or will they take some off her i get dvla full amount and middle componant.

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Rob Finch said on 08 December 2010

We are unable to respond to questions on the site. Please call the free Carers Direct helpline on 0808 802 0202 or ask for a call back via www.carersdirectenquiry.nhs.uk/callback/carers.aspx

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home n scared said on 07 December 2010

i get lower rate dla/care componant! can someone please tell me is my carer entitled to carers allowance?
i have applied for this and been told no ,reason being i get lower rate !!
i need more advice on this as i need my carer 24/7 he cant work because of this unfortunitly,ant advice welcome
thanks.

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Page last reviewed: 09/04/2014

Next review due: 09/04/2016

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

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Media last reviewed: 17/07/2013

Next review due: 17/07/2015