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Benefits for carers

Means-tested benefits

Means-tested benefits can be claimed by you, the person you look after or both of you, depending on your circumstances. Means-tested benefits, also known as "top-up benefits", are only paid if you have limited income and capital (savings, investments and property that's not your main home). They're paid in addition to other benefits to top up income.

You will only get one of the following four means-tested benefits. If you're entitled to more than one, contact the Disability Benefits Centre to work out which will pay you the most:

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit that has started to replace some benefits with a single monthly payment into your account. Currently, eligibility to claim Universal Credit depends on where you live and your personal circumstances.

Visit GOV.UK for more information

  • Income Support is paid to some people on a low income who don’t have to sign on as being unemployed, such as carers or lone parents, and who are under the qualifying age for the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit that is paid to people under the age of 65 who have a limited capacity for work due to ill health or disability. It can also help pay the interest on your mortgage payments.
  • Income-based JSA is paid to people who are actively seeking work. It can also help with the interest on your mortgage payments.
  • Pension Credit is in two parts. The guarantee credit is paid to top up the income of people who have reached the qualifying age (check Directgov's pension age calculator, which also gives your qualifying age for Pension Credit). The savings credit rewards people aged 65 and over who have some savings. Pension Credit can also help with the interest on your mortgage payments.

In addition to one of the benefits above, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit, which is paid to people who pay rent and have a low income.

Being awarded Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Attendance Allowance (AA) increases the amount of income you can have coming in, and you can still receive one of the means-tested benefits. Because of this, if you have just started to get DLA or AA, check if you're entitled to a means-tested benefit, even if you have been previously turned down.

Tax credits

You may be able to claim two types of tax credits: Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Child Tax Credit is means-tested and is paid if you're in or out of work and are responsible for a child. If you have a child, check whether you're entitled to any Child Tax Credit, which is paid in addition to other benefits a family receives.

If your child is awarded DLA, this increases the amount of Child Tax Credit you will be paid. Because of this, if your child has just started to get DLA, it's worth checking if you're entitled to Child Tax Credit or a greater amount of Child Tax Credit in general.

Working Tax Credit is paid if you work and have a low income.

Being entitled to means-tested benefits also gives you access to other benefits, such as free school meals, health benefits and social fund payments.

The official source of government information on benefits is GOV.UK.


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Page last reviewed: 09/04/2014

Next review due: 09/04/2016

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