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Carer's Allowance - introduction

You may be eligible for Carer's Allowance if you are aged 16 or over and you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who is ill or has a disability.

Who can get Carer's Allowance?

You need to be caring for somebody who is getting one of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate for personal care
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, or basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension  

If someone else is also looking after the same person, only one of you can get Carer's Allowance. If you are caring for more than one person with disabilities, you cannot add together the hours you do.

Carer's Allowance can be claimed by more than one person in a household, such as a couple caring for each other. Carer's Allowance is not affected by any savings you may have.

Caring at weekends only

The 'caring week' runs from Sunday to Saturday. Therefore, you could still be entitled to Carer's Allowance if you provide at least 35 hours of care but only over weekends.

If you have come from, or live, abroad

To be eligible, the following must apply:

  • you must have been present in Northern Ireland for at least 26 weeks in the 12 months prior to your date of claim
  • you must be in Northern Ireland when you make your claim
  • you are not subject to immigration control

Certain people can be treated as being present in Northern Ireland. For example, if you are a member of the Armed Forces, or living with a member of the Armed Forces and you are based abroad, you are regarded as living in Northern Ireland.

Under certain circumstances, Carer's Allowance may be paid to people who leave Northern Ireland to live elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland

Who cannot get Carer's Allowance?

There are some circumstances when you may not be qualify for Carer's Allowance. Details of these are given below.

Education

You can't get Carer's Allowance if:

  • you are on a course of full-time education
  • you are on holiday from a course of full-time education

Full-time education means a course which is described as full-time by the educational establishment providing it. If the educational establishment describes the course as part-time, but attendance is required for 21 hours or more each week, it will be treated as full-time.

Work and earnings

You can't get Carer's Allowance if you earn more than £102 a week after money has been taken off to allow for your expenses.

Expenses that are allowed are for things like:

  • some National Insurance (NI) contributions
  • Income Tax
  • half of any money you pay towards personal or occupational pension schemes
  • other expenses you have to pay because they are a necessary part of your job

After allowing for these things, you are allowed up to half the rest of the money you earn to help meet the cost of paying someone else (but not a close relative) to look after a child or children, or the person you look after, while you are at work.

Residing or remaining in Northern Ireland

You can't get Carer's Allowance if your right to reside or remain in Northern Ireland is subject to limitation or restriction by the Home Office.

How much do you get?

The weekly rate is £61.35. This is reduced by the amount of certain other benefits, including State Pension, that you receive. If you receive certain other benefits at £61.35 or more a week, Carer's Allowance cannot be paid to you as well.

You may have to pay tax on the amount you receive.

How it's paid

Carer's Allowance is normally paid directly into any account of your choice which accepts Direct Payment of benefits. This might be a bank, building society, or other account provider. You may be able to get someone else to collect your Carer's Allowance if you wish. For help with this contact your bank, building society or other account provider.

If you would like more information about how you can be paid by other means contact the Disability and Carers Service.

Effect on other benefits and entitlements

Claiming Carer's Allowance may affect any other benefits, allowances, pensions and entitlements you, or the person you care for, are receiving.

How to claim

You can claim Carer's Allowance by filling in a claim form. You can ask for a claim form over the telephone, by contacting the Disability and Carers Service or your local benefits office or downloading the form on the page below.

Do not claim Carer’s Allowance until the person you care for is awarded Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance, but you must claim Carer’s Allowance within three months of the Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance decision being made or you could lose benefit.

Changes in circumstances for you or the person you are caring for

Changes to your circumstances - and those of the person you care for - can affect your eligibility for Carer's Allowance, or the amount you get. For example, changes to your income or employment, if you go into full-time education or take a break from caring.