Carers allowance eligibility

Written by Zenya Smith08/03/22

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who provide regular care to a friend, neighbour, or family member who receives certain benefits, for example, Disability Living Allowance. You could get a weekly rate of up to £76.75, paid into your bank account every four weeks. To be eligible you’ll need to meet certain criteria, such as providing at least 35 hours of care a week, and earning under £139 a week if you’re working. 

Am I eligible for Carer’s Allowance?

If you’re providing care and support to someone over pension age, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance as long as you meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You’re over 16 years of age, or your 16th birthday is no more than three months away on the day you apply.

Is there a Young Carer’s Allowance?

While there’s currently no financial benefit for carers under the age of 16, there is help available to protect your rights, and help ensure your loved one gets the care they need.

If someone close to you needs looking after, it’s natural to want to help them. However, it’s really important that you have a choice over how many hours of care you give, and that you still have the opportunity to do things you want to do, and keep up with your education.

The NHS has some guidance on how to look after yourself as a carer, and who to go to for help, as well as details of organisations that support young carers.

  • You provide care to someone over pension age, for more than 35 hours a week
  • The person you’re caring for already receives a form of disablement allowance or benefit
  • Your part time earnings from any job you have are less than £139 a week after tax and National Insurance deductions (and expenses, if you’re self-employed)
  • You’ve been living on the UK for at least 2 of the last 3 years. If you’re a refugee, or have humanitarian protection status there are special rules in place. However, there may be additional criteria to consider depending on your immigration status or if you’re under immigration control. For example, if you’re seeking asylum, or someone in the UK has pledged to cover your costs of living, claiming public funds such as carers allowance could break the conditions of your stay. Citizens Advice can provide additional support if you’re unsure how this effects you.
  • You’re not in full-time education – you can study for up to 21 hours a week and still make a claim, however you may need to get written proof that your part time course will not exceed this threshold. If you’re studying full-time, you can’t try and claim for holiday periods in-between your studies.


The person you’re caring for

The person you’re caring can be anyone you know – including a family member. You don’t need to share the same home, but they must be receiving a qualifying  benefit, in order for your claim to be successful.

Qualifying benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – daily living component. This extra benefit is calculated depending on how much help someone needs with everyday tasks, such as getting dressed, eating and communicating.
  • Disability Living Allowance – the higher rate or middle rate care component. This benefit payment available to those who have been living with a disability for 3 months or more, and require help and supervision with things like cooking, or getting in and out of the shower.
  • Attendance AllowanceA benefit of up to £101.75 a week, designed to help those who would otherwise need residential care to live independently at home
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. To receive this, a person must meet specific medical criteria after becoming ill or disabled in the workplace.
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension. An additional payment for people getting a war pension of 80% or more.
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment. An additional benefit of £172.75 a week for service personnel who have been injured in action.

How do you prove you are a carer?

A caring role can’t always be easily defined. You may feel like you’re not doing enough to be classed as a carer, when in reality you’re well within your right to claim.

Are you an unpaid carer? 

According to Carers UK, one in eight (over 6 million) adults in the UK care for someone they know, with 1.4 million providing 50+ hours of care a week. During the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdowns, it’s estimated the number of adults caring for a friend or family member rose to 13.6 million. it’s also believed that around 600 people a day quit their jobs so that they can provide care to a loved one.

Raising the Profile of Unpaid Carers – Lisa James from Independent Age

We spoke to Lisa James, Campaign Manager for the charity Independent Age about raising the profile of unpaid carers and the issues they face.

Can I claim two lots of Carer’s Allowance?

Unfortunately you can’t get paid extra if you care for more than one person. So, if you’re providing care or support to two different people, for example a couple – you must choose which person you’d like to claim your Carer’s Allowance for. To increase your chances of claiming the highest rate of Carer’s Allowance, always claim for the person with the most care needs.

From helping with practical tasks such as running errands and doing laundry, to more intimate or personal care, the type of care that can qualify you as a carer includes:
Physical supportsuch as help getting up and dressed, or keeping limbs mobile
Personal supportsuch as help with getting to the toilet, washing, and applying topical creams
Domestic support such as help with household tasks like cleaning or cooking
Practical supportsuch as getting them to medical appointments; or helping with paperwork
Safety supportsuch as ensuring the home is hazard free, and keeping them out of danger

How to claim Carer’s Allowance

If you’re ready to apply for Carer’s Allowance or any additional benefits, the first step is to download the claim forms from if you’re in England and Wales, or if you’re in Scotland.

We’ve created a guide to the kind of documents and information you’ll need to complete your Carer’s Allowance application. We also have guides for applying to

If you don’t feel confident about completing your application form for Carer’s Allowance, there are a number of advice agencies that can support you/ For example, it may help to print out Carers UK’s Carer’s Allowance factsheet, and Citizens Advice claim pack  and refer to these as you fill in the form.

You can also get help with your claim by phone, by calling the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297 (textphone: 0800 731 0317).

What other benefits can I claim with Carer’s Allowance?

While Carer’s Allowance provides money for people on lower incomes, it’s also one of the lowest state benefit, and one of the few that currently offer on average less than £100 a week.

Therefore, it’s important to understand how your Carer’s Allowance payments could impact means-tested benefits and other forms of income support. Some benefits you’re already receiving may go down. This is because, under the rule of ‘overlapping benefits’, there is a maximum amount you can get from different benefits.

Understanding these rules can help you work out what to apply for, which is particularly important if you’re unable to work or have unpredictable monthly earnings. It can give you the confidence to appeal any benefit decision you don’t agree with.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

ESA is arranged by the Department for Work and Pensions. It’s a type of disability benefit for people under pension age who find it difficult to work, or work less than 16 hours a week, due to a medical condition. While there have been a few different types over the years such as, ‘contribution ESA’, or ‘income-related employment and support allowance’,  the only type you can apply for today is called ‘new-style Employment and Support Allowance’.

While you can’t claim this with Carer’s Allowance, it could be worth applying anyway if you have a disability or condition that prevents you working, but you still care to someone. This is because you’ll always be awarded whichever benefit gives you the most financial support.

Pension Credit

There’s no upper age limit for Carer’s Allowance, so as long as you’re physically and mentally able to provide care, you can make a claim. Additionally, if you get it, you’ll likely meet the eligibility rules for pension credit too – which tops up your state pension with extra pension payments.

Universal Credit

If you have low average earnings you may be eligible for monthly Universal Credit payments. And, when you care for an older disabled person, you should be able to claim an additional payment of around £160 called the ‘carer element’.

This extra payment is usually available if you’re claiming income-based jobseeker’s Allowance too.

If you lose your Carer’s Allowance because you’ve exceeded the earnings rule, you may still get the carer’s element in Universal Credit. So, it’s definitely worth applying for if your earnings vary, such as if you’re self-employed or do shift work.

However, it’s worth remembering that Universal Credit is a means-tested form of income support. So, if you claim alongside Carer’s Allowance you’ll likely see the amount you receive in Carer’s Allowance deducted from your Universal Credit total.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

If you are a carer who has some care needs yourself, you can claim your own PIP which will not effect your Carer’s Allowance.

National Insurance Credits

When you get Carer’s Allowance, you’ll automatically get national insurance credits too, often referred to as ‘Carer’s Credit’. Consistently making National Insurance contributions are key to qualifying for a number of state benefits. If you’re not earning enough to pay National Insurance. Carer’s Credit can cover these ‘ gaps’ in your record and make it easier to claim additional benefits.

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