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Caring for others

Sometimes people need to stop working, so that they can care for friends or family. There are many different reasons why you may need to do this. We want to highlight some of the things you might need to think about.

Caring for others and your pension

Many people consider stopping work to care for others either on a permanent or temporary basis. Whatever the reason is that leads you to think about stopping work, it's unlikely that the first thing on your mind will be your pension or retirement savings. However, there are some things that you should consider, that may help you financially in the long term.

Caring for those who are ill

It’s really important to make sure that you understand what support you may be entitled to from the State. In order to receive a full State Pension when you retire, you must have paid National Insurance (NI) for a minimum number of years.  You may be able to get National Insurance credits if you’re not paying National Insurance. You must normally be claiming a State benefit to receive NI credits. Credits can help to fill gaps in your National Insurance record, protecting your entitlement to:

  • the State Pension
  • contributory working age benefits
  • bereavement benefits for your partner

The following people can normally claim a National Insurance Credit in certain circumstances;

  • Carers
  • Parents and foster carers
  • Family member who cares for a child (usually while the parent or main carer is working)
  • On maternity, paternity or adoption pay

If you’re not entitled to a NI credit you may be able to pay a voluntary national insurance contribution. You should see our section on Voluntary National Insurance Contributions. Your relative or friend, or you, may be entitled to a number of different benefits and allowances. You should claim as soon as possible so that you don’t lose out on any benefits. Claims can be made by contacting your local Jobcentre Plus office, or online through the GOV.UK website.

Organisations that can help

There are also a range of organisations available to help if you have to give up work to care for another person;

If you’re looking after a friend or family member with cancer, you may want to look visit the MacMillan Cancer Care site www.macmillan.org.uk.

You should also consider how stopping working or reducing your hours will affect your works pension. There is more information on working part-time, here. And, you should also make sure you understand what happens when you leave your pension scheme.

Below are some of the benefits and allowances that you may be able to claim;

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

This allowance is for people under 65 who need help with personal care (the care component) and/or getting around (the mobility component). There are different levels of payment for each component depending on how much support and care the person with cancer needs.


Attendance Allowance (AA)

This allowance is for people of 65 or over who need help with personal care. There is no mobility component. The amount of benefit paid will depend on how much support and care the person needs.

Anyone who is not expected to live longer than six months because of an illness can apply for DLA or AA under special rules.


Carer’s Allowance (CA)

For you to receive Carers Allowance, the person you care for must be receiving Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance Care Component (middle or higher rates).


Employment and Support Allowance

This benefit replaces Incapacity Benefit and Income Support. It is paid because of illness or disability. The allowance may be based on how much national insurance the person has paid, or related to their income and how much money or savings they have.


Income Support

This is a means-tested benefit for people on a low income aged between 16 and the age at which they can claim Pension Credit. It is intended to cover basic living expenses and is for people who don’t have to sign on for work, such as carers and lone parents.


Pension Credit

This is a means-tested benefit for people over 60. Between April 2010 and April 2020, the age at which you can receive Pension Credit is changing. It will gradually rise in line with the increase in the State Pension Age for women, which is changing from 60 to 65. Pension Credit Guarantee is for those who have reached the minimum qualifying age. Savings Credit is for those aged 65 or over who have savings or income above the basic State Pension.


Working Tax Credit

This is a payment that ‘tops-up’ your earnings if you are working and on a low income, even if you have no children.


Community Care Grants

These are available from the Social Fund for people on Income Support, Pension Guarantee Credit and Income-based Job Seekers Allowance and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. Grants can be claimed for items such as bedding, clothing, a washing machine or drier.


Frequently asked...

Where can I find out more?

If you need more information, please contact us. A pension specialist from our team will be happy to help with whatever pensions-related question you have. Our help is always free.

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