If you’re caring for a family member, make sure you don’t miss out on your state pension. Find out about getting National Insurance credits for your state pension if you’re a carer.
Getting National Insurance credits for your state pension if you’re a carer
Around 250,000 carers qualify for National Insurance credits for their state pension, but currently don’t receive them. Only around 11,000 carers who could get National Insurance credits for their state pension actually claim them.
To qualify for National Insurance credits if you’re a carer (called a ‘carer’s credit’) you need to do two things:
1. Care for someone for 20 hours a week or more. It doesn’t matter whether or not you claim or receive Carer’s Allowance.
SAVVY TIP: Carer’s Allowance is only paid if you care for someone for 35 hours a week or more and they claim benefits such as Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate. There’s information on claiming Carer’s Allowance on the Gov.uk website. Alternatively, you can call a special helpline provided by the carers’ charity Carers UK on 0808 808 7777.
2. Get your care ‘validated’. The person you’re caring for needs to receive Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment or Personal Independence Payment (the daily living component at the standard or enhanced rate). If they don’t receive any of these benefits you may be able to get the Carer’s Credit if a medical professional can confirm that you are providing appropriate care for them.
SAVVY TIP: The ‘medical professional’ can be either a social worker or your family doctor. All they have to do is fill in a form to confirm that you are acting as a carer for 20 hours a week.
Claiming the Carer’s Credit
If you care for someone alongside other people, or if the person you’re caring for has gone into a care home, you could still qualify for the carer’s credit.
- The National Insurance credit isn’t means tested. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have savings or how much savings or capital you have. The Carer’s Credit is not means-tested so you’ll receive National Insurance credits towards your state pension if you care for someone for 20 hours a week or more.
- You can claim Carer’s Credit
Getting the most pension if you’re a carer
If you have gaps in your National Insurance contributions record because of years spent as a carer, you have several options:
- If you’ve already reached state pension age: make sure you claim the benefit called the Pension Credit.
- If you’ve not yet reached state pension age: consider making voluntary National Insurance contributions, but take advice because in some situations it could be a waste of money. There’s information on How to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions elsewhere on SavvyWoman.
SAVVY TIP: It’s not necessarily the case that everyone who has an incomplete National Insurance record should buy additional years of National Insurance. If you are eligible for the guarantee part of Pension Credit, you won’t get any benefit by buying extra years of NI. The Pensions Advisory Service is an independent, non-profit organisation that provides information and guidance on state pension matters. You can also call its helpline for advice 0300 123 1047.
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