Benefits for Students in Scotland Handbook
Part 1: Benefits and tax credits
Chapter 1: Carer's allowance
1. What is carer's allowa...
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1. What is carer's allowance

Carer's allowance (CA) is for people who spend at least 35 hours a week looking after a disabled person (an adult or child). The disabled person must be getting attendance allowance, the middle or highest rate of disability living allowance care component, the daily living component of personal independence payment, armed forces independence payment or constant attendance allowance in respect of an industrial or war disablement. The amount of CA you get is not means tested and your student loan, grant or other income does not affect it. Part-time students can get CA, but full-time students are not eligible.

Note: the Scottish government pays a supplement to people living in Scotland who get CA, which increases the amount of their CA to the level of jobseeker's allowance. It is paid as a lump sum every six months. A one-off £300 young carer grant for 16–18-year-old carers who cannot get CA is due to be introduced in Scotland in autumn 2019 (see Cross reference). At the time of writing, the regulations were not finalised, but it is expected that eligible young carers will be those providing care for at least 16 hours a week in total, for up to three people who get certain benefits. See for more information on these payments.

2. Who is eligible

You are eligible if you are a part-time student and you satisfy the basic rules on Cross reference. You are not eligible if you are in full-time education.

Full-time education

You are in full-time education if an overall consideration of your course requirements and your performance against these suggests this. If you are on a full-time course of education, you are normally taken to be in full-time education for the purpose of carer's allowance (CA).Footnote If you think that, given your circumstances, you are not in full-time education, you may be able to argue that you are a part-time student.Footnote

You are also treated as being in full-time education if you 'attend a course' (see below) at a university, college or other educational establishment for 21 hours or more a week.Footnote These 21 hours include not just classes, lectures and seminars, but also individual study for course work. Meal breaks and unsupervised study are ignored. However, you are regarded as studying under supervision if you are doing course work, whether at home or at college, alone or in the presence of a supervisor.Footnote Unsupervised study is work beyond the requirements of the course.

If your college or university says that it expects students to spend 21 hours or more a week in supervised study and classes, the DWP usually assumes that you are in full-time education.

In practice, if you want to show that you spend fewer hours on course work than the college or university expects, you need to provide detailed evidence and be prepared to appeal. If your particular circumstances mean that you are not expected to satisfy the normal requirements of the course (eg, because you are exempt from certain subjects), you may be able to argue that your hours of study are fewer than those expected of other students on the course.Footnote

Time out from a course

'Attending' a course means being enrolled on and pursuing a course.Footnote You are treated as still being in full-time education during short and long vacations, and until the course ends or you abandon it or are dismissed from it. You are still regarded as being in full-time education during temporary interruptions.Footnote If you have taken time out to care for someone and the interruption is not temporary (eg, if you have agreed with your institution to take a whole year out of your course), you may be able to claim CA.Footnote

Basic rules

As well as being a student who is eligible to claim, to qualify for CA you must satisfy all of the following conditions.Footnote You are aged 16 or over. You spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone. The person for whom you care gets the middle or highest rate of disability living allowance care component, the daily living component of personal independence payment, attendance allowance, constant attendance allowance or armed forces independence payment. You are not working and earning more than £123 a week. You satisfy certain rules on residence and presence in the UK and are not a 'person subject to immigration control'. See CPAG's Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.

3. Amount of benefit

The amount of carer's allowance (CA) is £66.15 a week (April 2019 rate). In Scotland, you are also paid a supplement to increase your CA to the level of jobseeker's allowance. This is paid in two lump-sum payments each year.

4. Claiming carer's allowance

You claim carer's allowance on Form DS700, available from local Jobcentre Plus offices or from You can also claim online at Your claim can be backdated for up to three months if you qualified during that earlier period.

Benefit is usually paid directly into a bank account.

5. Challenging a decision
If you think a decision about your carer’s allowance is wrong, you can ask the DWP to look at it again. This process is known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. Provided you ask within the time limit (usually one month), the DWP notifies you of the decision in a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’. If you are still not happy when you get this notice, you can appeal to the independent First-tier Tribunal. If it was not possible to ask the DWP to reconsider the decision within a month, you can ask for a late revision (within 13 months), explaining why it is late. You can also ask the DWP to look at a decision again at any time if certain grounds are met – eg, if there has been an official error.
6. Other benefits and tax credits
The benefit cap does not apply if you get carer's allowance (CA).
The disabled person's benefit

Your entitlement to CA depends on the person for whom you care continuing to get her/his disability benefit. If her/his benefit stops, your benefit should also stop. To avoid being overpaid, make sure you tell the Carer's Allowance Unit if the disabled person's attendance allowance, disability living allowance, personal independence payment or armed forces independence payment stops being paid.

Note: although CA may mean more money for you, it may result in the person for whom you care losing some income support (IS), income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), pension credit or housing benefit (HB). If s/he lives alone, s/he may be getting a severe disability premium included in the assessment of these benefits. S/he cannot continue to get this premium if you get CA for her/him. See CPAG's Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details and, if in doubt, get advice before claiming.

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