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Chapter 7: Carer’s allowance
This chapter covers:
1. What is carer’s allowance (here)
2. Who is eligible (here)
3. Amount of benefit (here)
4. Claiming carer’s allowance (here)
5. Challenging a decision (here)
6. Other benefits and tax credits (here)
Basic facts
Carer’s allowance (CA) is paid to people who care for someone with a severe disability.
Part-time students are usually eligible to claim.
Full-time students cannot claim.
CA is not means tested, but you cannot get it if you work and earn more than £128 a week.
Getting CA qualifies you for a carer element in universal credit or a carer premium in your income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and housing benefit.
1. What is carer’s allowance
Carer’s allowance (CA) is for people who spend at least 35 hours a week looking after a disabled person (an adult or child). The disabled person must be getting attendance allowance, the middle or highest rate of disability living allowance care component, the daily living component of personal independence payment, armed forces independence payment or constant attendance allowance in certain cases. The amount of CA you get is not means tested and your student loan, grant or other income does not affect it. Part-time students can usually get CA, but full-time students are not eligible.
2. Who is eligible
You are eligible if you are a part-time student (see below) and you satisfy the basic rules on here. You are not eligible if you are in full-time education.
Full-time education
You are in full-time education if an overall consideration of your course requirements and your performance against these suggests this. If you are on a full-time course of education, you are normally taken to be in full-time education for the purpose of carer’s allowance (CA).1SSWP v Deane [2010] EWCA Civ 699 If you think that, given your circumstances, you are not in full-time education, you may be able to argue that you are a part-time student.2CG/1154/2010
You are also treated as being in full-time education if you ‘attend a course’ (see below) at a university, college or other educational establishment for 21 hours or more a week, even if that course is designated as part time by the institution.3Reg 5 SS(ICA) Regs These 21 hours include not just classes, lectures and seminars, but also individual study for course work. Meal breaks and unsupervised study are ignored. However, you are regarded as studying under supervision if you are doing course work, whether at home or at college, alone or in the presence of a supervisor.4Flemming v SSWP [2002] EWCA Civ 641; Wright-Turner v Department for Social Development [2002] NICA 2 Unsupervised study is work beyond the requirements of the course.
If your college or university says that it expects students to spend 21 hours or more a week in supervised study and classes, the DWP usually assumes that you are in full-time education.
In practice, if you want to show that you spend fewer hours on course work than the college or university expects, you need to provide detailed evidence and be prepared to appeal. If your particular circumstances mean that you are not expected to satisfy the normal requirements of the course (eg, because you are exempt from certain subjects), you may be able to argue that your hours of study are fewer than those expected of other students on the course.5CG/3189/2004
 
1     SSWP v Deane [2010] EWCA Civ 699 »
2     CG/1154/2010 »
3     Reg 5 SS(ICA) Regs »
4     Flemming v SSWP [2002] EWCA Civ 641; Wright-Turner v Department for Social Development [2002] NICA 2 »
5     CG/3189/2004 »
Time out from a course
‘Attending’ a course means being enrolled on and pursuing a course.1Flemming v SSWP [2002] EWCA Civ 641 You are treated as still being in full-time education during short and long vacations, and until the course ends or you abandon it or are dismissed from it. You are still regarded as being in full-time education during temporary interruptions.2Reg 5(3) SS(ICA) Regs If you have taken time out to care for someone and the interruption is not temporary (eg, if you have agreed with your institution to take a whole year out of your course), you may be able to claim CA.3SM v SSWP [2016] UKUT 406 (AAC); Memo DMG 2/17
 
1     Flemming v SSWP [2002] EWCA Civ 641 »
2     Reg 5(3) SS(ICA) Regs »
3     SM v SSWP [2016] UKUT 406 (AAC); Memo DMG 2/17  »
Basic rules
As well as being a student who is eligible to claim, to qualify for CA you must satisfy all of the following conditions.1s70 SSCBA 1992
You are aged 16 or over.
You spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone.
The person for whom you care gets the middle or highest rate of disability living allowance care component, the daily living component of personal independence payment, attendance allowance, constant attendance allowance (in certain cases) or armed forces independence payment.
You are not working and earning more than £128 a week.
You satisfy certain rules on residence and presence in the UK and are not a ‘person subject to immigration control’.
See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
 
1     s70 SSCBA 1992 »
3. Amount of benefit
The amount of carer’s allowance is £67.25 a week (April 2020 rate).
4. Claiming carer’s allowance
You claim carer’s allowance on Form DS700, available from local Jobcentre Plus offices or from gov.uk/government/publications/carers-allowance-claim-form. You can also claim online at gov.uk/carers-allowance/how-to-claim. Your claim can be backdated for up to three months if you qualified during that earlier period.
Benefit is usually paid directly into a bank account.
5. Challenging a decision
If you think a decision about your carer’s allowance is wrong, you can ask the DWP to look at it again. This process is known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. Provided you ask within the time limit (usually one month), the DWP notifies you of the decision in a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’. If you are still not happy when you get this notice, you can appeal to the independent First-tier Tribunal. If it was not possible to ask the DWP to reconsider the decision within a month, you can ask for a late revision (within 13 months), explaining why it is late. You can also ask the DWP to look at a decision again at any time if certain grounds are met – eg, if there has been an official error.
6. Other benefits and tax credits
The benefit cap does not apply if you get carer’s allowance (CA).
The disabled person’s benefit
Your entitlement to CA depends on the person for whom you care continuing to get her/his disability benefit. If her/his benefit stops, your benefit should also stop. To avoid being overpaid, make sure you tell the Carer’s Allowance Unit if the disabled person’s attendance allowance, disability living allowance, personal independence payment or armed forces independence payment stops being paid.
Note: although CA may mean more money for you, it may result in the person for whom you care losing some income support (IS), income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), pension credit or housing benefit (HB). If s/he lives alone, s/he may be getting a severe disability premium included in the assessment of these benefits. S/he cannot continue to get this premium if you get CA for her/him. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details and, if in doubt, get advice before claiming.
Overlapping benefits
Although CA is not means tested, you cannot receive it at the same time as incapacity benefit, maternity allowance, severe disablement allowance, widowed parent’s allowance, retirement pension, contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or contributory ESA. If you are eligible for more than one benefit, you get whichever is worth the most.
Getting a carer premium or element
If you are a part-time student getting CA and claiming universal credit (UC), you are eligible for a carer element in your UC and you are not expected to look for work. If you are getting IS, income-based JSA, income-related ESA or HB, an extra carer premium is included in these benefits, even if your CA is not being paid because you are getting another benefit that overlaps with it.
Working tax credit
If you have a child(ren) and a partner and you get CA, you are eligible for working tax credit if your partner works at least 16 hours a week, rather than the usual 24.

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