MARTIN Lewis has warned thousands earning less than £139 a week could be missing out on £4,000 a year.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain last week, Martin told viewers to check if they qualify for carer's allowance.
Carer's Allowance is a UK benefit designed to help people who have caring responsibilities for more than 35 hours each week.
Those who qualify could get £76.75 weekly in extra support – that's an additional £4,000 more a year.
But some 500,000 people are missing out on the cash.
The MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) founder encouraged people to check now to see if they qualify.
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He said: " You've got to be caring for over 35 hours a week unpaid – cooking, cleaning, helping someone get dressed etc.
"The person you're caring for must get attendance allowance or sometimes personal independent payment or disability living allowance."
To qualify for the extra £4,000 Martin said you need to earn less than £140 a week or be on a very low state pension.
"These are the unpaid support staff of our country – we need to support them," he added.
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You can apply for Carer's Allowance either online or by post.
Before you start a claim, you need to gather the correct information.
You will need:
- Your National Insurance number (as well as your partner's)
- Your bank or building society details
- Your employment details and latest payslip if you’re working
- Your P45 if you’ve recently finished work
- Any course details if you’re studying
- The details of any of your expenses
- The date of birth and address of the person you are caring for
- The National Insurance Number if the person you care for is 16 or over, or
- The Disability Living Allowance reference if they’re under 16
You can backdate your claim by up to three months.
To claim online visit the government website.
To claim by post, you need to download a form online. The address to send it to is at the end of the form.
Do I qualify for Carer's Allowance?
To qualify, the person you care for must already get one of these benefits:
- Personal independence payment (PIP) – daily living component
- Disability living allowance – the middle or highest care rate
- Attendance allowance
- Constant attendance allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Constant attendance allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a war disablement pension
- Armed forces independence payment
You don't have to be related to the person or live with them to apply.
But if you share caring responsibilities with someone else, only one of you can claim.
You must also care for them for at least 35 hours a week, unpaid.
The type of care you provide can vary, but includes things such as helping with washing or cooking, taking the person to medical appointments or helping out with household tasks such as shopping or organising bills.
To get the benefit, you must also meet a certain set of criteria:
- You must be 16 or over
- You have to spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
- You need to have been in England, Scotland or Wales for at least two of the last three years (this does not apply if you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection status)
- You must normally live in England, Scotland or Wales or live abroad as a member of the armed forces (you might still be eligible if you’re moving to or already living in an EEA country or Switzerland)
- You cannot be in full-time education
- You must not be studying for 21 hours a week or more
- You cannot be subject to immigration control
How much can I earn and still get Carer's Allowance?
Generally, your earnings need to be £139 or less a week after tax, National Insurance and expenses in order to qualify.
But if your earnings are sometimes more than £139 a week you might still be eligible if your average earnings are below the threshold.
To calculate your earnings, you need to add up any income from employment or self-employment and then deduct tax, National Insurance and expenses.
Your expenses can be quite significant and can include:
- 50% of your pension contributions
- Any equipment you need to do your job, such as specialist clothing
- Travel costs between different workplaces that are not paid for by your employer
- Business costs if you’re self-employed, for example, a computer you only use for work
You may also be able to include carer fees in your expenses for the time when you are at work.
If you pay someone to look after the disabled person or your children, you can treat costs that are less than or equal to 50 per cent of your earnings as an expense.
The carer must not be your spouse, partner, parent, child or sibling.
You can find out more about what counts as earnings and what is excluded on Gov.uk.
Check your eligibility for benefits
Benefits can help top up your income if you are struggling financially, but millions of pounds worth go unclaimed every year.
If you are on a low income it's definitely worth checking if you are entitled to any.
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A number of charities and organisations have calculators which you can use to estimate your benefit entitlement.
But bear in mind they will just give you estimations and not exactly what you will get.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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