There are a number of benefits which you and the person you care for may be entitled to. However, this section is only a summary of these benefits and may not provide you with all the information you require to clarify your entitlement or situation. As the benefit system is so complex we recommend that you seek more detailed information and advice. The Carers’ Centre may be able to help you or you can contact the Northern Ireland Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 220 674, the office specifically designated to the particular benefit (numbers given below) or one of the organizations listed in the ‘Useful Links’ Section.
Carers Allowance is the main benefit for Carers. It is intended to replace the income you might otherwise earn from a job if you were not caring. Entitlement to it does not depend on your record of paying National Insurance Contributions and you do not have to live with the person you care for.
To qualify for Carers’ Allowance you must:
- be aged over 16 years of age
- care for the person for at least 35 hours per week;
- not be in full-time education, nor earning £82 per week from paid work;
- not be in receipt of an ‘overlapping’ benefit - Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, State retirement pension,
Widow’s pensions, contribution based Job Seeker’s Allowance.
- the person you care for must be receiving Disability Living Allowance Care Component (Middle or Higher Rate),
Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance.
Please note that if you receive CA then the person you care for cannot receive the Severe Disability Premium. To apply for CA fill in the claim form in pack DS700, which you can get from Social Security Offices, ourselves, post offices and advice centres or the Benefits Enquiry Line 0800 22 06 74. You can also ring the Carers’ Allowance Branch on 028 9033 6000. Again we strongly advise you to seek qualified help in completing this or any other state benefit form. Contact the Belfast Carers’ Centre on 9043 4700 for details.
Disability Living Allowance - DLA
This benefit is for children and adults up to the age of 65 years who need help with personal care and with getting around because of an illness or disability. It is a tax-free benefit and is not means tested which means that it doesn’t affect other benefits. To qualify for DLA you must:
- be under 65;
- satisfy one or more of the care or mobility conditions;
- must have satisfied the conditions for at least three months are be likely to satisfy them for a further six months.
There are two parts to DLA:
- the care component;
- the mobility component.
Payments are made at different rates depending on the extent of disability or help needed. Contact the Centre for the most up to date value of the benefit.
The Care Component
The Care component is paid at one of three rates:
- Lower rate
- Middle rate
- Higher rate
The rate paid depends on which parts of the disability test the person satisfies. Contact the centre for the most up to date figures with regard to the value of each award.To be entitled to the Care Component of DLA you must be aged under 65 and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- need help with bodily functions such as washing, dressing, preparing for bed, moving about at home or using a bath or
- need someone to keep an eye on you to prevent you from coming to harm;
- be terminally ill or receiving dialysis;
- be unable to prepare a meal unaided (if aged over 16).
The Mobility Component
The Mobility Component is available to people over the age of 5 but under 65 and is paid at one of two rates:
- Lower Rate
- Higher Rate
Contact the centre for the most up to date figure for the value of each award. As with the care component, the rate of mobility component payable depends on which parts of the disability test the person satisfies. To qualify for the Mobility Component the person must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- unable or virtually unable to walk;
- need guidance or supervision when using an unfamiliar route;
- be both blind and deaf and need someone with them when outdoors;
- have a severe mental impairment.
To receive an application form for DLA fill in the tear-off slip in leaflet DLA705 Disability Living Allowance, which you can get from Social Security Offices, or ring the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 22 06 74. You can also call the Disability Living Allowance Branch on 028 9033 6000.
Attendance Allowance - AA
Attendance Allowance is a tax-free, non means-tested benefit for people over the age of 65 who need help to look after themselves during the day or night (or both) as a result of an illness or disability for at least 6 months. You do not have to have anyone looking after you to qualify for Attendance Allowance. Attendance Allowance is paid at different rates depending on the level of care needed, not on the care you are actually receiving.
- Lower Rate
- Higher Rate
Contact the centre for the most up to date figures. The Lower Rate is paid to people who require help either during the day or during the night. The Higher Rate is paid to people who require help during both the day and the night.
For further information or to apply for Attendance Allowance fill in the form in leaflet DS702 Attendance Allowance which is available from Social Security Offices or the Benefit Enquiry Line or the Attendance Allowance Branch on 028 9033 6000.
Please note that your benefits may be affected if you or the person you care for goes in to hospital or residential care. In such an event contact the office that pays the relevant benefits for details.
Income Support - IS
Income support is extra money to top up benefits and low incomes. Even if you receive other benefits you may be entitled to receive Income Support.
You can receive Income Support if you are:
- 18 or over (some 16 and 17 year olds can make claims) and working less than 16 hours per week (some people with disabilities who work for 16 hours or more can claim)
- not in full time education (but people with disabilities in special education can claim)
- Living in the UK
- Available for work (unless you are a person who has a disability or you care for someone and get Carers Allowance)
- Have capital under £8,000. Please note that there are tariffs on savings over £3,000. Contact the centre for further detail on the above and for up to date information.
You do not have to have paid National Insurance Contributions to be entitled to Income support but it is means tested which means that other money you have coming in or savings you have may be taken into account. If you are entitled to CA you will be entitled to have a Carers’ Premium included in your Income Support and Housing Benefit which means you will be able to get some extra benefit.
If you receive Income Support you will automatically be entitled to health benefits such as free dental treatment, free prescriptions, free sight tests and vouchers towards the cost of glasses, housing benefit and free school meals. You can also claim from the Social Fund if you get Income Support, provided you have savings of less than £500.
The Social Fund provides grants and loans to people who receive Income Support to help meet one-off expenses.
Community Care Grants
You will be awarded a Community Care grant if that grant will
- Help you settle in the community after a stay in hospital, care home, hostel or prison;
- Help you stay in the community instead of going into hospital, care home or hostel;
- Help a family under stress;
- Pay travelling expenses in special cases.
A Community Care Grant can help pay for essential things for your home such as furniture and bedding as well as clothing and travel costs. You do not have to pay the grant back.
A budgeting loan is meant to help you with large one-off payments. They allow you to spread the cost over a longer period. You will have to pay it back out of your benefit. You must have been receiving Income Support for 26 weeks and have less than £500 savings. The loans are interest free and you normally repay then out of your benefit.
A Crisis Loan is meant to help you in an emergency or after a disaster. Like budgeting loans Crisis Loans are interest free and you normally repay them out of your benefit. However, you do not have to be getting Income Support to apply for this loan.
This is a payment to help you with funeral expenses. You are entitled to this grant if you get Income Support, Family Credit, Housing Benefit or Disability Working Allowance. Any savings over £500 will be counted towards the cost of the funeral. Call your local Social Security Office for the claim form SF200.
Cold Weather Payments
These payments help towards extra heating costs during periods of very cold weather. You have to be getting Income Support and one of the disability or pensioner premiums paid with it, or have a child under 5. You will not have to do anything to get your payment. The Social Security Agency will pay you automatically when the average temperature is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below over seven days in a row.
To apply for a grant or loan from the Social Fund contact your local Social Security Office, found under Social Security Agency in the telephone book. Addresses and phone numbers of Social Security Offices in Belfast are listed in Section 8 ‘Useful Contacts’ of this information pack. As with any benefit we would strongly advise getting qualified assistance when completing these forms.
Carers Network Member