Your guide to care and support

What benefits can carers get?

Knowing what benefits you are entitled to can make a real difference. For example, you might be able to get a break from caring or get help with certain costs.

There are 3 main types of benefits that carers can apply for:

  • benefits if you're not in paid employment, called "earnings replacement benefits"
  • benefits that help pay for extra costs, such as those relating to disability or having a child
  • benefits and tax credits that top up low income if you're in work, called "means-tested benefits"

You can also claim certain bereavement benefits if you were looking after someone who has died.

Earnings replacement benefits

The main earnings replacement benefits for carers are Carer's Allowance and the state pension.

Carer's Allowance

Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You may be eligible if you look after someone for 35 hours or more a week.

The exact amount you receive depends on your financial situation. Not everyone will receive the full amount.

Check if you're entitled to Carer's Allowance with this online benefits adviser or read more about Carer's Allowance.

State Pension

If you are over pension age and retired, you will be eligible for the State Pension.

Between 2010 and 2020, the State Pension age for women will move gradually from 60 to 65. You can check your retirement age on GOV.UK. Most people who receive the State Pension automatically qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment as well.

Usually, you will not be able to receive Carer's Allowance once you receive your State Pension. However, you will still have an "underlying entitlement" to it, and this can help you qualify for other means-tested benefits and related payments, such as the carer premium.

Benefits that help with extra costs

Many carers not only look after someone else but also are ill themselves.

If you're aged 16 to 64, you could be entitled to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

If you're 65 or over, you could be entitled to Attendance Allowance (AA).

PIP helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or a disability. AA is paid if you're severely disabled and need help with personal care.

If you have children, Child Benefit should also be paid, and if your child is disabled, you can claim Disability Living Allowance on their behalf until they turn 16.

These benefits can be paid in addition to Carer's Allowance.

Means-tested benefits

Check if you're entitled to any means-tested benefits using the online benefits adviser.

Means-tested benefits – sometimes called "top-up benefits" because they top up your income – can be paid in addition to other benefits you might also be getting.

Universal credit

The main means-tested benefit you may be eligible for is Universal Credit. This is a benefit for people who are either out of work, or in work on a low income.

It's being rolled out across England over the next few years, and some parts of the country already have a full-service Universal Credit. For more information, call the Universal Credit helpline free of charge on 0800 328 9344.

Universal credit is gradually replacing 6 other benefits. If Universal Credit is not yet available in your area, you may be eligible for:

Other means-tested benefits you may be eligible for include:

  • Pension Credit – extra money for pensioners to bring their weekly income up to a minimum amount
  • a Cold Weather Payment between the months of November and February
  • a disability premium – an extra amount automatically added to your Income Support. You might get more if you qualify for the extra parts of the disability premium, such as the severe disability premium. However, if you are paid Carer's Allowance, you will lose your eligibility for the severe disability premium

If you're entitled to more than one benefit, call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053. Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau to get advice on which will pay you the most.

Bereavement benefits

Bereavement benefits are not means-tested, but they will be considered as income if you claim any means-tested benefits.

Bereavement Payment

A Bereavement Payment is a one-off, tax-free lump-sum payment of £2,000 paid in some circumstances on the death of your spouse or civil partner.

Bereavement Allowance

Bereavement Allowance is a regular taxable payment made if you were aged 45 or over when your spouse or civil partner died. It's payable for 52 weeks.

The amount you're paid relates to your age when your spouse or civil partner died. It is only payable up to State Pension age and will be reduced if your spouse or civil partner's National Insurance contribution record was incomplete.

Widowed Parent's Allowance

Widowed Parent's Allowance is a regular taxable payment for widowed men or women under pension age who have dependent children (or, in the case of women, if they're pregnant).

Media last reviewed: 30 Sep 2015

Media review due: 30 Sep 2018

Page last reviewed: 19/01/2018
Next review due: 19/01/2021