Up to 230,000 unpaid carers are putting their state pension in jeopardy by not claiming carer’s credit – a benefit that plugs gaps in your national insurance record when you’re not able to work because you’re caring for someone.
Carer’s credit is not a typical benefit, as you don’t receive any money for it. However, it’s important to claim it – otherwise your state pension could be negatively impacted.
According to new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, it’s estimated up to 250,000 carers are eligible to claim carer’s credit – but just 20,000 are actually doing so.
Charity Carers UK puts the total number of unpaid carers in the UK at 6.5 million – if you’re one of those and think you could be eligible for carer’s credit, it’s important to check now if you can claim.
Heléna Herklots, Carers UK chief executive, told us: “When people take on a caring role for a loved one, they can face serious financial hardship. Many carers see a steep drop in income if they have to leave work or reduce their hours to care.
“It is vital that carers are able to protect their state pension entitlement and don’t suffer an ongoing impact from reducing hours or leaving work to care.”
Carer’s allowance, worth up to £62.70 a week, is a totally separate benefit to carer’s credit.
We explain how to check if you’re eligible for carer’s credit below. But in short, if you don’t get carer’s allowance and you do care for someone then apply anyway.
There’s no harm in doing so if you’re unsure whether you’re eligible – the worst that’ll happen is your application will be rejected.
The application process is straightforward: you can download a carer’s credit application form or call 0345 608 4321 to get one. You then need to fill it in and post it to the Government’s carer’s allowance unit.
Your application must be received before the end of the tax year following the tax year to which the credits relate. This means a claim for the 2016/17 tax year (the last tax year) must be made by 5 April 2018.
To get carer’s credit you must fulfil the following criteria (though if you’re unsure on anything, contact the carer’s allowance unit on 0345 608 4321):
Yes – you can go back one year, which means a claim made by 5 April 2018 could go back as far as the beginning of the 2016/17 tax year. You can also claim retrospectively even if the person you were caring for has since died or no longer needs caring for.
In these situations it’s best to contact the carer’s allowance unit on 0345 608 4321.
This week is Carers’ Week – an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and the challenges faced by carers.
The Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, sets out carers’ legal rights. Part of it includes giving carers a right to request a ‘carer’s assessment’ from their local authority.
This assessment is carried out by a professional from your council who will work out how being a carer affects your life and assess what the council can do to help that.
For help and support, carers in England can also call the NHS Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053. For other parts of the UK (although it covers England too), Carers UK has a free advice line on 0808 808 7777.
Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station – Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle – ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45