The £278 DWP benefit half a million Britons don’t know they can claim

Martin Lewis on carer's allowance and the effect on pensions

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According to the charity Carer’s UK, around 6.5 million people provide care for someone else in the United Kingdom, and many often struggle to make ends meet. It is estimated around half a million people could claim Carer’s Allowance but aren’t currently doing so. The benefit is provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and gives carers an additional £69.70 a week, which equates to £278 per month or over £3,000 per year. 

What’s more, it entitles the recipient to other payments and discounts including a Christmas bonus.

The Government’s one-off tax-free Christmas bonus of £10  is normally made in the first full week of December.

To be eligible for the benefit, people must be caring for someone else for at least 35 hours a week, be over the age of 16 and not earn more than £132 a week from employment or self-employment.

This is after deductions for income tax, National Insurance and for pensions.

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The rules don’t just include the carer, as in order to claim the person being cared for must be a recipient of one of the “qualifying benefits”. 

These include Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or Armed Forces Independence Payment.

People should be aware that if the person who is being cared for claims Severe Disability Premium (SDP) then this payment of £69.40 a week could be stopped when Carer’s Allowance has been claimed.

One of the misconceptions of Carer’s Allowance is people have to be related to the person they are caring for in order to claim, however, this is not true, people do not have to be related to be able to claim. 

However, if a person shares the care of an individual with someone else, both carers cannot get Carer’s Allowance, and a carer cannot get more if they care for more than one person.

Carer’s Allowance is not dependent on National Insurance contributions and is therefore not means-tested, which means it is not based on a claimant’s personal income or savings.

However, at the same time, Carer’s Allowance is a taxable payment and can therefore affect other benefits you may be claiming or planning to claim.

This is due to the “overlapping” benefits rule. 

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If people claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit as well as Carer’s Allowance, their payments will be reduced by the amount of Carer’s Allowance they receive.

Whilst claiming Carer’s Allowance, people won’t be able to receive contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Maternity Allowance.

People also cannot claim if they receive Bereavement or widow’s benefits, or contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Even though there is no upper age limit for claiming Carer’s Allowance, people cannot receive the full amount of both Carer’s Allowance and a state pension at the same time.

However, if a person’s state pension is less than £69.70 per week, they can get the difference paid in Carer’s Allowance.

After making a claim for Carer’s Allowance, it usually takes between three to six weeks to receive the DWP’s decision.

The DWP has recently stated that their decision turnaround is currently sitting on around 37 working days. 

If a person’s Carer’s Allowance claim is successful, they may also be able to backdate their claim for up to three months.

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