factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“You have to be in receipt of carer’s allowance to get the carer element”

The short answer:

That’s a myth ... you just need to meet the caring conditions for carer’s allowance to qualify

A carer element can be included in your universal credit when you are entitled to carer’s allowance, but also if you are not - as long as you meet the general rules for carer’s allowance by having ‘regular and substantial’ caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person. That means providing care for 35 hours or more a week. However, unlike carer’s allowance, there are no earnings limits that prevent you from qualifying for the element.

Tip: Jobcentre staff may not understand all the rules about the carer element so make sure that you provide details of your caring responsibilities and check your award notifications in case the element has not been included in your award in error and needs challenging.

In addition, the inclusion of a carer element may be affected by other circumstances -

  • you can only get one of either the carer element, the limited capability for work element, or the limited capability for work and work-related activity element;
  • if you are a member of a couple, both of you can qualify for a carer element as long as you care for different disabled people;
  • joint claimants may be able to qualify for the carer element and either the limited capability for work element, or the limited capability for work and work-related activity element in their joint award in some circumstances.

Law and case law:

Regulations 29 and 30 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 set out entitlement rules for the carer element.


Official guidance:

Chapter F6 of Advice for Decision Makers provides guidance on the carer element.

Need more help?

If you need help in finding out more about your rights and the options available to you, do consider contacting a local independent advice organisation. 

Enter a postcode on our advicelocal site to find details of advice organisations in your area. They will usually be able to offer free advice and support, and help to answer any questions you have.

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