Could you be claiming carer's allowance?

Carer's allowancePic: Getty

If you are caring for a friend or family member who is ill or disabled, whether in your own home or theirs, you could be eligible to claim Carer's Allowance to help you cope. For anyone unsure about what and how to claim, here's what you need to know.

Can I claim?
To claim Carer's Allowance (currently £61.35 per week) you must meet certain criteria. Firstly you must be looking after your partner, relative or friend for a minimum of 35 hours each week, not averaged out over a number of weeks. That time could include physically helping the person, keeping an eye on them if they could come to harm, or doing practical tasks.

You must also be over the age of 16 and have been present in the UK for two out of the last three years and be habitually resident here. Thirdly, you must not be in full-time education or earn more than £102 a week after deductions.

Furthermore, the person you are caring for must be receiving one of the following qualifying disability benefits: Personal Independence Payment (or Disability Living Allowance for children), Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance.

If you are under pension age, you will receive National Insurance credits towards your state pension.

Exceptions and other considerations
There are certain exceptions to the rules on whether you can claim Carer's Allowance. For instance, if you look after two people, you can only claim one payment. Similarly, if you share the caring role with another, only one of you can claim, though the carer who does not claim may be eligible for Carer's Credit.

If you are claiming Universal Credit or other state benefits, you may not be eligible to claim. However, if your benefits amount to less than the Carer's Allowance, you may be able to get an extra amount to top up your weekly payments. Payment of Carer's Allowance also usually stops when you reach retirement age, but if you are or were eligible prior to retirement age, you will have an 'underlying entitlement', which means you could get additional payments to your Pension Credit. And if your state pension is less than you would get in Carer's Allowance, you may get an additional amount to make up the difference.

It is also important to consider the income of the person you are caring for. For instance, means-tested benefits could be reduced if you claim Carer's Allowance so it is worth checking how it may impact the situation. Both Carers UK (0808 808 7777) and Age UK (0800 169 65 65) run advice lines that may be able to help you.

How to claim
If you think are eligible for Carer's Allowance, you can download a form or make a claim online at Gov.UK, or call the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321.

Do you claim Carer's Allowance? Has it made a difference to your situation? Leave your comments below...