Financial help for carers
Carers may face financial costs when they are caring for someone with cancer, but there is help available.
Carer’s Allowance is a weekly benefit that helps people who look after someone with substantial care needs. Carer’s Allowance is £59.75 a week.
You may be eligible if you’re caring for someone who’s receiving one of the following benefits:
Do I qualify?
You need to be aged 16 or over and be caring for someone for at least 35 hours a week to qualify for this benefit.
You don’t need to be related to or living with the person you care for. You can be working, but there’s a weekly earnings limit of £100 a week (after certain deductions). You can’t claim Carer’s Allowance if you’re studying for 21 hours a week or more. Students and carers who don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance may be able to protect their State Pension entitlement by applying for Carer’s Credit (see below).
If you’re awarded Carer’s Allowance, you may also be entitled to the carer premium. This is an extra payment that can be added to Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-related Employment and Support Allowance. There’s also an extra amount for caring within Pension Credit, and a carer element may also be included in a claim for Universal Credit.
Claiming Carer’s Allowance
Carer’s Allowance overlaps with certain benefits, including:
Severe Disablement Allowance
contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
widow’s and bereavement benefits
contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
You can’t be paid Carer’s Allowance if you receive the same amount or more from these overlapping benefits. However, it may still be worth applying for Carer’s Allowance because any response you receive may help you claim a means-tested benefit, such as Pension Credit. You may also receive national insurance contribution credits.
Claiming Carer’s Allowance can affect the benefits claimed by the person you care for. It’s a good idea to speak to a welfare rights adviser, who can advise you on the best course of action for you and the person you care for.
How can I claim?
Apply online at gov.uk or call the DWP's Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321, textphone 0845 604 5312. Carers may be entitled to other financial help. Speak to a benefits adviser for details.
Carer’s Credit is a national insurance credit for carers of working age. It helps carers build up qualifying years for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension, so there are no gaps in your national insurance record if you’re taking on caring responsibilities. It isn’t a cash benefit.
To qualify for Carer’s Credit, you must care for one or more disabled people for 20 hours or more a week. Each person you care for must be getting one of these disability benefits:
If the person you’re caring for doesn’t receive a qualifying benefit, Carer’s Credit can still be awarded if you supply a care certificate. This will need to be signed by a health or social care professional.
Is it right for you?
You don’t need to make a separate application for Carer’s Credit if you’re already receiving benefits such as Carer’s Allowance, Income Support as a carer or Child Benefit for a child under 12. Your State Pension is already protected in these cases.
Carers who may benefit from claiming Carer’s Credit include those who:
care for someone for more than 20 hours but fewer than 35 hours a week
look after someone who isn’t claiming disability benefits
help care for an ill or disabled person where someone else is claiming Carer’s Allowance for looking after them
look after several people but don’t care for any one person for 35 hours or more a week
combine caring responsibilities with paid work and don’t earn enough to pay national insurance contributions for the whole year
care for someone and are self-employed
care for someone and are full-time students.
Carers who are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance may benefit from extra national insurance contributions towards their State Pension if they apply for Carer’s Credit.
Help with finding paid work
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If you want to combine caring with paid work or would like help finding work when you stop being a carer, your local Jobcentre can help. You may be able to get help with care costs if you’re attending interviews or training. Find out more at gov.uk or contact Jobcentre Plus.
You can find more information in our section about how Macmillan helps carers, and our section about working while caring for someone with cancer.
Contact the Disability and Carers Service or call the Benefit Enquiry Line. You can also download a claim form at nidirect.gov.uk.
You may be entitled to other financial help, such as Income Support, Pension Credit, disability benefits or help with health costs.
Welfare reform in Northern Ireland - Autumn 2013 update
The Northern Ireland Welfare Reform Bill is still under consideration. While it was originally expected that reforms to the benefits system in Northern Ireland would start to be introduced in summer 2013, these changes are now not expected to occur until at least spring 2014. The latest news on the reforms can be found on our welfare reform page and also at nidirect.gov.uk
Macmillan Cancer Support, in partnership with Citizens Advice, provides a dedicated Welfare Rights Service to cancer people affected by cancer in Northern Ireland. For information and support, or to arrange an appointment, please call 0300 1 233 233. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am-12.30pm and 1pm-4pm.
You can also call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.
For benefits information and support in Northern Ireland please visit nidirect.gov.uk or call 0800 232 1271.
You can also contact the Northern Ireland Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 220 674, or textphone 0800 243 787 if you are deaf or hard of hearing.