Do you have a disabled child? Did you know you may be entitled to the same financial help available to other people who are caring for family members or friends unpaid? As parent carers, many of us struggle to view ourselves as unpaid carers – is it not just what we do as part and parcel of being a parent? Even if caring for them is more challenging? Even if we have to give up work or only work part time because of the extra needs our children have?
If you are caring for your own disabled child you are still classed as an unpaid carer because their needs are higher than that of a non-disabled child. The NHS classes a carer as:
‘anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.’
There are a number of different benefits you can claim if you are a parent carer. Read our article here for details of some of them, as well as agencies you can contact to find out what you are entitled to. In this article we take a closer look at just one of the benefits you may be able to claim as a parent carer, which often opens the door to other help and support for you and your family as well – Carers Allowance.
*Please note, if you don’t live in England but live in another area of the UK the rules around Carers Allowance may be different – please check with your local government*.
What is Carers Allowance?
Carers Allowance is a benefit paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to an unpaid carer who is looking after a person who is disabled for at least 35 hours a week. At the time of writing this (September 2021) the rate is £67.40 a week.
Is my child classed as disabled by the DWP for Carers Allowance?
If your child is under sixteen they need to be receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate. If they are over sixteen they need to receive either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment. They do not need a diagnosis.
Am I eligible?
You can usually receive Carers Allowance if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You are 16 or over
- You live in the UK (there are some exceptions such as if you are an armed forces family)
- You are not in full time education
- You care for the person for at least 35 hours a week
- You earn less than £128 a week after tax and national insurance (correct at the time of writing in October 2021, please check if this amount has changed when you apply)
Your eligibility is not affected by your total household income or any savings you have. For example, your partner’s income is not taken into consideration if they work.
If you receive Carers Allowance your National Insurance contributions will be paid for the time you are claiming it.
How will Carers Allowance affect other benefits I already claim?
Carers Allowance is classed as income by the DWP so may affect the benefits you already receive. Working out how your benefits will change if you claim a new benefit can be complicated. We advise people who receive any benefits to seek advice from the DWP or a benefits specialist to check your individual circumstances before applying for Carers Allowance. We have listed some sources of advice and help below.
How to apply
You can apply via the government website here, or download a form here and apply by post.
If you need help and support around applying
If you need help applying or have any questions you can contact the government’s Carers Allowance Unit by phone on 0800 731 0297.
You can get more help and information from benefits advisers at your local Citizens Advice Bureau or on their website here. If you are in the South West you can search for independent specialist benefits advisers near you here.
If you live in Bristol or South Gloucestershire you can get help and support around Carers Allowance and other issues affecting carers from the Carers Support Centre.
Carers UK is a national charity that supports carers and has further information about Carers Allowance on their website as well as an advice line for carers.