If you have care needs or a disability – or you’re caring for someone who does – there are benefits to help you manage with the extra costs. Some of these benefits aren’t affected by income or savings and you may be able to keep them if you have to go into a care home.
What benefits can I claim?
The main benefits anyone can claim to help with the extra costs of your personal care needs or disability are:
- Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance (if you’ve reached State Pension age). These are designed to help with the extra costs you face because of your care needs or disability. They are not means tested so don’t depend on your income or savings
- Council Tax reduction. Some of these relate to your disability or care arrangements and are not means-tested.
- Universal Credit. More details below.
If your income and savings are low
You may also qualify for means-tested benefits to top up your income. These might include a housing cost element of Universal Credit if you’re under State Pension age, housing costs support and Council Tax reductions. Pension Credit may include an extra amount if you have a disability.
To find out more, take a look at our What disability and sickness benefits can I claim? guide.
If someone spends a lot of time looking after you and has a low income, they may be able to claim carer’s benefits, including Carer’s Allowance and the carer’s element of Universal Credit.
Why it’s important to claim all the benefits you’re entitled to
These benefits aim to help people in your situation live safely, comfortably and as independently as possible.
Even if you feel you can manage without them, if you’re eligible, you have a right to claim them. Here are some reasons why it’s important to do so:
- Claiming everything you’re entitled to now may help your income and savings last longer.
- When your local authority (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland) assesses your care needs, they’ll usually also carry out a financial assessment. This is to see whether they’ll help pay for the support you need. They’ll help you assess what benefits you’re entitled to claim. But you’ll need to make sure you claim these benefits as they’ll assume you’re getting them.
Did you know?
Some sickness and disability benefits don’t take your savings into account, and the savings limit on others might be higher than you think.
Attendance Allowance is tax-free and isn’t affected by any savings or income you might have.
You might be entitled to it if:
- you’re State Pension age or over
- you need help with personal care because of illness or disability. This could be a physical or mental disability, or a learning difficulty
- your disability means you need help caring for yourself or supervision to ensure the safety of yourself or others.
You must have been in need of care and support for at least six months. However, if you’re terminally ill, you can claim Attendance Allowance immediately and don’t have to wait six months.
Attendance Allowance is based on the care you need, not the level of care you’re currently receiving. So even if you don’t receive support from a carer at the moment, you might still be entitled to this benefit.
You can’t usually get Attendance Allowance if you live in a care home and the local authority is paying for your care.
But you can still claim Attendance Allowance if you live in a care home and are paying for it yourself.
You’ll get a lower rate if you need help in the day or night, and a higher rate if you need help both day and night.
Attendance Allowance rates for 2021-22
|Higher rate||Lower rate|
If you’re in England, Wales or Scotland, find out more about Attendance Allowance – including how to claim – on the GOV.UK website.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, find out more about Attendance Allowance – including how to claim – on the nidirect website.
You might be over State Pension age and get Personal Independence Payment instead of Attendance Allowance.
Find out more on the GOV.UK website.
Personal Independence Payment
If you’re under State Pension age and have difficulty getting around or doing everyday tasks, or both, you can make a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP is tax-free, paid every four weeks, and not affected by your income or savings.
There are two parts to PIP:
- A mobility component – (some people call it mobility allowance), which is paid if you need help getting around.
- A daily living component – which is paid if you need personal care.
You must have had difficulties for at least three months and expect them to continue for at least nine months. However, if you’re terminally ill you can claim PIP straightaway using a fast track process.
There are two rates for each payment. Which one you get will depend on how severe your needs are.
Personal Independence Payment rates 2021-22
|Daily living component||Mobility component|
|Standard rate £60||Standard rate £23.70|
|Enhanced rate £89.60||Enhanced rate £62.55|
For more information on how to claim, see the Citizens Advice website.
Council Tax discounts and exemptions
If you have a disability, you might qualify for more than one of these Council Tax discounts and reductions:
Single person discount
If you live alone, you’ll get the single person discount of 25% on your council tax bill.
Some people in certain situations are also ‘disregarded’ for council tax. This means, if you live alone with one or more ‘disregarded’ people you’ll be treated as single for the purposes of council tax and get a 25% discount on your bill.
People who have a severe mental impairment are among the list of people who are ‘disregarded’ for council tax.
When counting the number of people, your council will disregard anyone who has a severe mental impairment, and anyone who is a live-in carer (as long as the live-in carer is not the partner of the person being cared for or a parent of a child under 18).
You won’t get the discount if there is more than one adult living with you who doesn’t qualify.
This discount isn’t affected by your income or savings.
You can apply for this even if you don’t have a disability or care needs.
Find out more about who is ‘disregarded’ for council tax on the Which? website.
Severe mental impairment exemption
You won’t have to pay any Council Tax if your doctor certifies you have a severe mental impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease and you live alone.
This exemption isn’t affected by your income or savings.
You’ll need to use a special claim form and will be given a 100% reduction if you qualify. Contact your local council to find out more.
Find out more about applying for the SMI council tax exemption or discount on the MoneySavingExpert website.
Disabled band reduction scheme
You might be able to show that you need a larger home because of your disability. For example, because you need an extra room (such as a downstairs wet room) or extra space to get around in a wheelchair (such as widened doorways).
In that case, you’ll be taxed as if your home is in a lower tax band. This reduces the amount you have to pay.
This discount isn’t affected by your income or savings.
Some home adaptations won’t make you eligible for this reduction, such as a stairlift or an external wheelchair ramp. The full list of what makes you eligible will change depending on your council.
Find out more about how to apply for the Disabled Band Reduction on the Disability Rights UK website.
Council Tax support/reduction scheme
If your income and savings are low, you may qualify for a reduction in your bill. Councils operate their own schemes, so the amount of the reduction varies depending on where you live.
If you move permanently into a care home and your previous home is no longer occupied, you’re exempt from Council Tax.
- Find out more about Council Tax discounts on the Which? website.
- Look up ‘Council Tax discounts’ and ‘Council Tax Support/Reduction’ on the Turn2Us website.
- Contact your local council to claim Council Tax discounts and reductions. Find your local council on GOV.UK.
Council Tax only applies to people living in England, Wales and Scotland.
If you live in Northern Ireland and your income and savings are low, you might get a reduction in your rates through Rate Relief Scheme. You may get extra help if you have a disability or you’re a carer.
Find out more on the nidirect website.
State Pension and Pension Credit
The State Pension gives you a regular income when you reach State Pension age.
It’s based on National Insurance contributions you’ve either paid in the past or were credited as if you had paid them (for example, while caring for children). The amount you get isn’t affected by your other income or savings.
Pension Credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum. The amount you get does depend on your income and savings.
Pension Credit is the main means-tested benefit for people who’ve reached State Pension age. If you’re younger than this and your income and savings are low, you may instead qualify for other benefits, such as Universal Credit.
If you live with a partner and one of you is below State Pension age, you won’t be able to apply for Pension Credit until you both qualify. You may be able to apply for Universal Credit instead.
You can qualify for a higher amount of Pension Credit (or means-tested benefits for younger people) if you’re severely disabled or you’re a carer.
Lots of people who are entitled to Pension Credit aren’t claiming it, often because they don’t know about it.
However Pension Credit is a really important benefit. Getting it means you could qualify for extra financial support, such as Housing Benefit and other means-tested benefits.
You can find out more about Pension Credit on the GOV.UK website and you can claim easily online, over the phone or by post
Find out more in our guides:
Help with housing costs
If you are working age, rent your home and your income and savings are low, you may qualify help with housing costs through Universal Credit to help you pay your rent.
If you claim Pension Credit, you’ll also be automatically assessed to see if you qualify for Housing Benefit which is paid by your local authority. So make sure you claim it if you’re struggling with your rent.
If you’re getting Pension Credit (or certain other means-tested benefits), you own your home and you still have a mortgage, you can apply for government help to pay the interest on your mortgage through the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan scheme.
Using the SMI loan scheme means the government pays your mortgage interest for now. You repay the government from the proceeds when your home is eventually sold.
Find out more about SMI and other alternatives in our Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) guide
Find out more in our Government help if you can’t pay your mortgage guide.
If you’re on a low income, you might also be entitled to other benefits and help with health costs.
- Check out Turn2Us, a charity that helps people access welfare benefits, grants and other support.
- Find out more about help with health costs on the NHS website.
- If you’re in Northern Ireland, find out more about other benefits on the nidirect website.
Benefits for carers
If you’re caring for someone who is ill or disabled, it can affect your financial situation too.
Help is available – you don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for.
See our guide on Benefits and tax credits you can claim as a carer.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.
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