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Carer's allowance is the main welfare benefit to help carers and is worth £62.70 per week (April 2017-18).

You don't have to be related to or live with the person you care for to claim Carer's Allowance, and you might still be able to claim even if you don't think of yourself as a carer.

You'll also get National Insurance credits each week towards your pension if you're under pension age.

Don't assume you're not a carer

You may not think of yourself as a carer. Perhaps you’ve looked after someone for a long time without ever calling yourself one, or maybe you think the help you give your spouse or parent is simply what you should be doing. If so, you may have been missing out on the help that is available to you.

Who can claim Carer's Allowance?

To claim Carer's Allowance, you must:

  • spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person - you don't have to live with them
  • care for someone who receives the higher- or middle-rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, either rate of Personal Independence Payment daily living component, or any rate of Attendance Allowance
  • not earn more than £102 a week (after deductions)
  • not be in full-time education.

Carer's Allowance may not be paid if you're receiving a State Pension or certain other benefits, but it's still worth claiming because you could get extra Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit.

If you're claiming Universal Credit

You may be able to get an extra amount because of your caring role without having to apply for Carer's Allowance. This is known as a carer element. However, if you're ill or disabled, you'll only be entitled to a carer element or a disability element - not both.

How to claim Carer's Allowance

Call the Disability and Carers Service on 028 9090 6186 (textphone: 028 9031 1092) Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (excluding public holidays) to request a claim form.

You can also download a claim form from NI Direct - Carer's Allowance.

If you receive State Pension, you can claim Carer's Allowance using a shorter claim form. Contact the Department for Social Development (DSD) on 028 9082 9000 for further information.

If you need help completing the form, the Age NI Advice Service can help you, call freephone 0808 808 7575.

If your circumstances change

If your circumstances change, e.g. if you take a break from caring, stop being a carer altogether or the person you care for goes into hospital, make sure you let the Carer’s Allowance Unit know.

Help claiming Carer's Allowance

Douglas & Kathryn's story

Douglas, 79, spent 40-odd years driving a petrol tanker around the country before he retired at 65. While he loved the job‚ it took its toll on his knees and he is now partially housebound.

'My wife Kathryn and I had no idea that we could claim benefits,' said Douglas.

Kathryn said‚ 'Douglas was finding it hard to manage on his own at home. His knees made him unstable so he was at risk of injury. I was working part time and was always worried about him when I left the house.

'Douglas got help to claim Attendance Allowance and then I claimed Carer’s Allowance so I could leave my job as a cleaner and stay home full time to look after him.

'The extra money has made a big difference to our lives. Douglas now gets the proper care he needs with me at home and he can pay for physio on his knees. I find we worry less about our heating bills. I am healthier too since leaving my job because the cleaning was taking its toll on me physically.

'And to think‚ all we did was answer some questions and sign the forms.'

Free benefit check

If you, or an older person you know needs advice, information or practical support on a wide range of issues including welfare benefits, community care, housing and health, contact the Age NI Advice Service on Freephone 0808 808 7575 to speak to a specialist advisor in confidence. Our advisors can provide a free benefit check to ensure that older people are accessing the benefits they are entitled to.

Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call the Age NI Advice Service today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575

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