Pension and National Insurance for carers
Caring can have an impact on your finances, particularly if you have had to give up work to be a carer. In this section we look at an area in which support is available, to do with the state pension and National Insurance for carers.
Other financial help may be available when you are a carer – we suggest you seek a benefits review from a welfare rights organisation such as Citizens Advice or use one of the independent benefits calculators referred to on GOV.UK.
What help can I get to protect my state pension if I have had to give up work to care for someone?
You may not be paying National Insurance contributions whilst you are caring for someone. This may be the case if you are not working or only earning a small amount. This could affect your future state retirement pension because whether you qualify and the amount you get depends on your National Insurance contribution record. However, you may be able to get help to protect your state pension with National Insurance credits.
Can you tell me more about carers and the state pension?
If you will reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2016, you will be eligible for the ‘new’ state pension. You can find out more about the new state pension on the GOV.UK website. You will need 35 qualifying years' worth of contributions to get the full amount (you should be able to get a pro-rata amount provided you have at least 10 qualifying years).
A qualifying year sounds as though you might need to have a perfect 52 weeks of working for it to count. In fact, any tax year where you receive a minimum amount of earnings or credits (which you receive for example, if you cannot work because you are bringing up children who are aged under 12) can be a qualifying year. The 2018/19 tax year could be ‘banked’ as a qualifying year provided you have earned the equivalent of 52 x £116 (this amount is known as the Lower Earnings Limit) – total £6,032. Please note that any pay periods in which you have earned under the Lower Earnings Limit will not count towards the total. So for example, if you earn £187.50 a week for 26 weeks of the year, but only £90 a week for the other 26 weeks of the year then although your earnings in total will exceed the £6,032 amount, you will not have a qualifying year as your earnings in weeks where you exceed the LEL only reach £4,875.
Many carers will miss out on qualifying years if they have given up work or have low level earnings in order to look after someone. Help is available to plug any ‘gaps’ in a carer’s National Insurance contributions record in the form of ‘credits’.
What credits can carers get?
There are two ways that you can get credits for your National Insurance record as a carer:
- By claiming Carer’s Allowance – a benefit paid by Department for Work and Pensions to carers who meet the qualifying conditions. This will get you Class 1 National Insurance credits.
- By claiming a Carer’s Credit – a National Insurance credit for carers who do not receive Carer’s Allowance. This will get you Class 3 National Insurance credits.
The main benefit available to carer’s is Carer’s Allowance which you can find out more about on our website here.
For every week that you receive Carer’s Allowance, an automatic Class 1 contribution or ‘credit’ will be made to your National Insurance record equal to 1/52th of the amount that is needed to make a qualifying year that year. So in 2018/19, that will be £116. If you receive Carer’s Allowance for the 2018/19 full year, an amount of £6,032 will be captured on your record and that year will become a qualifying year for the purposes of calculating the state pension.
Carer’s Allowance gives entitlement to Class 1 National Insurance credits which can count towards contribution based jobseeker’s allowance, contribution based employment and support allowance, maternity allowance, bereavement benefits as well as the state pension.
Not all carers will qualify for Carer’s Allowance. If you cannot claim Carer’s Allowance and get automatic National Insurance credits, you might be able to claim ‘standalone’ National Insurance Carer’s Credits instead. If you qualify for the Carer’s Credit, you will be credited with Class 3 National Insurance contributions. However this will not be automatic and you will have to apply for these credits. Because of this not everybody who is entitled to Carer’s Credit benefits from it.
You should note that Carer’s Credits only give Class 3 National Insurance credits, whereas if you are claiming Carer’s Allowance you will be credited with Class 1 National Insurance credits. Both Class 1 and Class 3 credits count towards the state pension (previously basic and additional state pension) and bereavement benefits, however Class 1 credits also count towards contribution based job seeker’s allowance, contribution based employment and support allowance and maternity allowance.
Please note that Carer’s Credits are not benefit payments.
I cannot get Carer’s Allowance, am I eligible for Carer’s Credits?
Your income will not affect eligibility for Carer’s Credit, so you may get this even if you do not get Carer’s Allowance. Your savings will not affect your eligibility either.
You may also be able to get Carer’s Credits in the following situations where Carer’s Allowance is not available:
- You are looking after someone who refuses to claim disability benefits or who finds it extremely difficult because of their condition. For example, this might apply if you look after someone with a mental illness.
- More than one person is looking after the person who is severely disabled and you're not the one claiming Carer’s Allowance (only one person can claim Carer’s Allowance for an ill or disabled person).
- You cannot claim Carer’s Allowance because you're looking after more than one person, but do not care for any of them for 35 hours a week.
To qualify for Carer’s Credit, you must care for one or more disabled people for 20 hours or more a week and the cared-for person or people receive:
- Disability living allowance – care component at the middle or highest rate
- Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment – daily living component, at the standard or enhanced rate
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
If the person you are caring for does not get one of these benefits, you may still be able to get Carer’s Credit – you will need to fill in a ‘Care Certificate’ which can be found in the application pack.
A Care Certificate is a two-sided form for a health or social care professional to confirm that the person cared for needs the number of hours of weekly care that the carer states they provide.
Please note that you should be able to receive Carer’s Credit even if you have a break in caring for up to 12 weeks in a row – for example, the person you are caring for goes into hospital.
Can I backdate a Carer’s Credit claim?
Yes – but the earliest you can ask for your Carer’s Credit to start from, is the start of the last full tax year. For example, if you complete the application form at some point during the 2018/19 tax year, the earliest date you can ask for your Carer’s Credit to start from would be 06/04/2017.
From April 2010, Carer's Credit replaced Home Responsibilities Protection. If you were caring for someone before April 2010 any existing Home Responsibilities Protection entitlement will be converted into credits. (Married women and widows who made a reduced rate election before 12 May 1977 were prohibited from claiming Home Responsibilities Protections, but they may apply for Carer’s Credit.)
How can I claim Carer’s Credit?
You can claim for this benefit by filling out the Carer's Credit application form.
Visit the GOV.UK website to download the form.
You can also phone or write to the Carer’s Allowance Unit to ask for an application form (they deal with Carer’s Credit as well as Carer’s Allowance) on:
Carers Allowance Unit
Mail Handling Site A
You do not need to claim Carer’s Credit if you are:
- already paying enough National Insurance contributions because you are working;
- already receiving credits because you are receiving a benefit that gives you credits automatically (e.g. Carer’s Allowance, child benefit, etc.)
What if I am already receiving a state pension but still caring for someone?
If you are a low income pensioner with caring responsibilities you may be entitled to some extra money in recognition of your caring role. You can find further details of carer benefits for pensioners on the Carers UK website.
What credits are available for caring for children?
If you are responsible for a child or children, whether or not they are disabled, you may be able to get National Insurance credits that will count towards the state pension and bereavement benefits.
If you are aged 16 or over and claim child benefit for looking after a child under the age of 12, you will automatically receive Class 3 National Insurance credits.
If you are the partner of and live with a child benefit recipient and you want to transfer entitlement of the credits from your spouse or partner to yourself, you can do this using form CF411A.
Foster carers and kinship carers
If are aged 16 or over and are an approved foster carer or kinship carer of a child under the age of 12 you can apply for National Insurance credits using form CF411A. If you qualify, your National Insurance record will be credited with Class 3 contributions.
Specified adult childcare credits
If you are aged 16 or over and are a grandparent or other family member of a child under the age of 12 who you look after because their parents (or main carers) are working, you may be able to get ‘specified adult childcare credits’. If you qualify, your contribution record will be credited with Class 3 contributions. You must claim these credits, they will not be automatically added to your record.