If you're not in paid employment, you may be able to get earnings-replacement benefits. Usually, you can't get more than one of these benefits at the same time.
This means that even if you're entitled to more than one earnings-replacement benefit, you'll usually receive whichever is the highest. This is called the overlapping benefits rule.
The following earnings-replacement benefits are based on National Insurance (NI) contributions.
- Bereavement Allowance (formerly Widow's Pension)
- Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
- Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- State Pension
- Widowed Parent's Allowance
Carer's Allowance is not based on NI contributions.
You usually can't receive more than one of the above benefits at the same time. If you or the person you care for are entitled to more than one of these benefits, a benefit based on NI contributions will be paid in preference to Carer's Allowance or any other earnings-replacement benefit that does not depend on NI contributions.
If you're entitled to two benefits, you'll get the benefit that pays the higher amount. If you're entitled to a benefit based on NI contributions, but this is worth less than another benefit not based on NI contributions, you'll be paid the benefit based on NI contributions plus the difference between the two benefits.
Increases for adult dependants
Some earnings-replacement benefits may give you an increased amount if you have an adult dependant. You'll only receive one increase for an adult dependant, even if you get more than one earnings-replacement benefit. You'll receive the highest increase that can be paid.
If you cannot be paid any Carer's Allowance because you're being paid another earnings-replacement benefit, you still have an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance.
Although you won't be paid Carer's Allowance, it's worth making a claim for it. This is because the underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance means an amount called a carer premium, or carer addition for Pension Credit, can be included in the calculation of any means-tested benefits you're entitled to.
The carer premium or addition can make it more likely you'll receive a means-tested benefit, or more of a means-tested benefit is paid to you.
For example, Carol is 64 and looks after her husband. She gets a State Pension and Pension Credit. She makes a claim for Carer's Allowance, but is told she cannot be paid it because it overlaps with the State Pension she receives.
The letter she receives from the Carer's Allowance Unit will tell her that although Carer's Allowance cannot be paid, she has an underlying entitlement to it.
Carol can then send a copy of this letter to the Pension Service (who pay her Pension Credit), and they will increase the amount of Pension Credit she receives. This is because a carer's addition will be added to her Pension Credit.
A carer addition can be paid as part of Pension Credit. A carer premium can be paid as part of the following means-tested benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Housing Benefit
Article provided by NHS Choices