Thousands miss out on £3,624 a year benefit payment and Christmas bonus – check if you can claim
THOUSANDS of people are deprived of benefits worth thousands of pounds a year.
And as Christmas approaches, they could also get an extra bonus by making a claim.
Carer’s allowance is a benefit for those who have the responsibility of caring for others.
This can be someone you live with, such as a family member, but it doesn’t have to be in the same house or related.
You will need to look after them for at least 35 hours per week and they must claim certain benefits.
Carer’s Allowance is worth up to £69.70 a week – or £3,624.40 a year
Those who receive the care allowance are also entitled to a bonus during the holiday season.
The extra payment in December is worth £10. You can see the full list of people eligible for cash assistance in our guide.
It is estimated that almost half a million people are not in receipt of care allowance, which is a whopping £1.3billion.
Here we explain who can benefit from it and how to apply for it.
Who is entitled to care allowance?
You may be entitled to carer’s allowance if you look after someone for at least 35 hours a week.
To be eligible, the person you are caring for must already have one of these benefits:
- Payment for personal autonomy – daily life component
- Disability Living Allowance – the average or highest care rate
- Attendance allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance at or above normal maximum rate with Work Injury Disability Benefit
- Constant assistance allowance at the basic rate (full day) with a war invalidity pension
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
You do not need to be related to the person or live with them to apply.
But if you share family responsibilities with someone else, only one of you can claim.
The type of care you provide may vary, but includes things like helping with laundry or cooking, taking the person to doctor’s appointments, or helping with household chores like running errands or organizing bills.
To qualify, you must also meet a number of criteria:
- you must be 16 or older
- you must spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
- you must have been in England, Scotland or Wales for at least two of the last three years (this does not apply if you are a refugee or have humanitarian protection status)
- you must normally live in England, Scotland or Wales or live abroad as a member of the armed forces (you may still be eligible if you are moving or already living in an EEA country or Switzerland)
- you cannot pursue full-time studies
- you must not study 21 hours per week or more
- you cannot be subject to immigration control
You will also need to meet certain income criteria in order to get the benefit.
How much can I earn and get child care allowance?
As a general rule, your earnings must be £132 or less per week after tax, national insurance and expenses to qualify,
But if your earnings are sometimes higher than that week, you may still be eligible if your average earnings are below the threshold.
To calculate your income, you must add up any income from employment or self-employment, then deduct tax, national insurance and expenses.
Your expenses can be quite large and can include:
- 50% of your pension contributions
- Any equipment you need to do your job, such as specialized clothing
- Travel costs between different workplaces not covered by your employer
- Business expenses if you are self-employed, such as a computer you only use for work
You may also be able to include caregiver costs in your expenses for the time you are at work.
If you pay someone to take care of the disabled person or your children, you can treat the costs up to 50% of your income as an expense.
The caregiver must not be your spouse, partner, parent, child or sibling.
You can find out more about what is considered income and what is excluded on the gov.uk website.
How can I apply for care allowance?
You can apply online for Caregiver Allowance on the gov.uk website.
You can also claim by post by printing the form here and returning it to the address printed on it.
What other benefits can I get?
Anyone can check whether they are entitled to benefits such as carer’s allowance using a simple calculator.
Benefits aren’t just for the unemployed, and millions of working people get Universal Credit to supplement their income.
Entitledto’s free calculator determines whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits, and Universal Credit.
If you run out of time to complete the form all at once, you can save your results and come back later, but you will need to log in or register.
You can do this using Facebook, Google or by creating an Entitledto account.
If you don’t want to register, consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefit tools powered by data from Entitledto that allow you to save your results without logging in.
Instead, you receive a unique code to write down and use when you want to revisit the quiz.
You will also find benefit calculators from Turn2Us and Policy in Practice.
Any calculator you use will give you an idea of what you might get, but then you’ll have to apply for the benefit itself.
Can I get backdated benefits?
It is possible to get backdated benefits if you discover that you failed to claim them.
But it depends on the benefit you are applying for, as different benefits have different rules for retroactive payment.
For example, new applications for Universal Credit, Income Support and Housing Benefit can be backdated by up to one month.
You can get family allowances, a retroactive pension credit for up to three months.
But in most cases, you’ll need to provide evidence to show a good reason why you couldn’t make a claim sooner.
It could be because:
- You have a disability
- you are sick
- The online complaints system was down
- You reapply after breaking up with your partner
You can request backdating of your benefit payments when applying for benefits.
How to do this varies depending on the benefit you are applying for, so it is worth checking for more information with the government before submitting your application.
You can request that your benefits be backdated by writing to the Department for Work and Pensions, HMRC or your local council.