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Pension warning for hundreds of thousands of carers

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Hundreds of thousands of carers are unwittingly denying themselves a full state pension by failing to apply for carer’s credit.

Figures from a Freedom of Information request reveal just 17,388 people received carer’s credit at the end of 2018.

But according to government figures, around 200,000 carers are eligible – and most are women.

If a carer fails to claim for carer’s credit, they could get less state pension in the future because these credits help plug gaps in their National Insurance record, which is used to determine how much state pension they get.

To qualify in full for the state pension, retirees need to have made 35 years’ worth of National Insurance contributions.

Wealth management firm Quilter, which submitted the FOI, said these credits could be worth £244 a year in retirement, or £1,220 over five years.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said: “Unpaid carers save the UK an astonishing £132bn a year, a figure that will most certainly grow as our society ages. However, these people sometimes don’t even recognise themselves as carers or the extent of the sacrifice they are making.

“Thinking of their own long-term financial wellbeing is crucial and the state pension is a big part of that, particularly as it’s money they rightfully deserve.”

Are you eligible?

You can apply for carer’s credit if you are over 16 and under the state pension age and you’re looking after one or more person for at least 20 hours a week.

The person you’re caring for must also receive at least one of these benefits: disability living allowance (care component at the middle or highest rate), attendance allowance, constant attendance allowance, personal independence payment (the daily living component at the standard or enhanced rate) or the armed forces independence payment.

If the person you’re caring for doesn’t receive one of these benefits, you could still be eligible for carer’s credit – but you’ll have to get a health or social care professional to sign the application form to verify it.

You can also still get carer’s credit if you have breaks from caring (up to 12 weeks in a row), such as if you take a holiday, go into hospital or the person you’re caring for goes into hospital.

It is possible for two people fulfilling the criteria above to be eligible for carer’s credit by caring for each other.

I receive carer’s allowance. Do I still need to apply for carer’s credit?

When you are paid carer’s allowance you get a class one national insurance credit paid each week. This helps protect your state pension and can help towards claiming other benefits.

I don’t qualify for carer’s allowance. Can I still apply for carer’s credit?

Yes. To qualify for carer’s allowance you need to be providing care for at least 35 hours per week. If you provide fewer hours of care, you may be able to claim carer’s credit.

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