Unpaid carers could boost state pension payments via ‘vital’ credit

Bristol resident discusses carers allowance

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The UK is experiencing an unprecedented cost of living crisis which is hunting financially vulnerable demographics the most, including unpaid carers. Those who have to look after someone for many hours a week are more likely to be out of full-time employment which could affect how much they get from their state pension in retirement. However, there is still a way carers can boost their state pension payments despite being out of the workforce for a period of time.

This is done through claiming Carer’s Credit, a benefit available to individuals who care for someone at least 20 hours a week.

Thanks to this credit, people get help with gaps in their National Insurance record, with Britons usually needing at least 35 years of contributions to get the full new state pension, with 30 years for the basic state pension.

Carers are more likely to have gaps in their record due to stopping work for a period of time to take on their caring responsibilities.

One of the consequences of this is that someone’s eventual retirement could be detrimentally impacted as carers may not get the full state pension.

If someone is eligible for Carer’s Credit, they will be able to claim crucial credits to fill in the gaps left on their National Insurance record.

Through this support, carers are able to continue with their caring responsibilities without impacting their state pension payments.

It should be noted that an individual’s income, savings or investments will not impact their eligibility for Carer’s Credit.

Carer’s Credit claimants must be over 16 or over but under the state pension age, which is currently 66, to be eligible for the support.

If someone decides to have breaks from caring for someone, they can still get Carer’s Credit but only up to 12 weeks in a row.

Claimants can still be eligible for the benefit for 12 weeks even if they go on a short holiday or have to go to hospital.

Outside of Carer’s Credit, claimants may also be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if they look after someone for at least 35 hours per week from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Someone in receipt of this DWP benefit could claim £69.70 a week to compensate for their lack of income due to their caring duties.

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As well as this, residents in Scotland are able to apply for an additional benefit payment called Carer’s Allowance Supplement.

Louise Yasities, an elderly care expert at TakingCare Personal Alarms, previously broke down the unique struggles unpaid carers are faced with.

She said: “Unfortunately, the reality is that there is little financial support for those caring for an elderly loved one, so it’s also worth researching the support available for your parents or relatives.

“You can get at-home support through a needs assessment from your local authority which can help develop a personalised care package.

“Caring for an older relative, particularly a parent, can be an extremely overwhelming and emotional experience, particularly when it comes to managing finances.”

According to the carer expert, those looking after a loved one should turn to alternative means of support, outside of the traditional benefit payment provided by the DWP and HMRC.

Ms Yasities added: “Consider cost-effective ways of supporting a relative, particularly if you can’t be with them all the time, such as at-home help from local councils, community volunteering schemes such as lunches and coffee mornings and even personal alarms or panic buttons that can be made available via a monthly subscription.

“It’s vital that unpaid carers take care of their own wellbeing and seek emotional and financial support where required to help alleviate some of the stresses that come with caring for an elderly loved one, and seeking the right level of support is an important place to start.”

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