Nice if you can get it

Changes to invalid care allowance from October could bring big
gains for many pensioners.

The good news is that ICA will be extended to new claimants aged
65 and over, ending the rule that it must be claimed before that
age. It also means that older carers will be able to claim ICA on
the same basis as all other claimants. The bad news is that ICA
overlaps with retirement pensions. So most pensioners who claim ICA
will be told that they are not entitled because their retirement
pension is worth more.

The second piece of good news, though, is that these
“unsuccessful” claims for ICA will give rise to “underlying
entitlement to ICA”, should the person meet the eligibility

This underlying entitlement means that the carer premium of
£24.80 a week can be added to the pensioner’s income
support or housing benefit calculation. For example:

  • Janet, 66, looks after her 42-year-old son who has a learning
    difficulty. He receives disability living allowance care. Joan has
    income support of £23.15 a week to top up her £75
    retirement pension. She can now claim ICA. She will not be paid it
    (because her retirement pension is higher), but she will receive
    the carer premium of £24.80 a week. 
  • Betty and Alf are 79. Alf has attendance allowance. They do not
    receive income support because their other pensions come to
    £10 a week too much. Betty claims ICA but it is not paid
    because her retirement pension is higher. However, they can now
    claim income support including the carer premium. They would
    receive an extra £14.80 a week after the premium is added. Six
    months later, Betty’s health deteriorates, so she claims
    attendance allowance too. If Alf can meet the criteria for ICA,
    they could receive two lots of carer premium, so their income
    support rises by £24.80. They would also be entitled to two
    “severe disability premiums”, worth a further £84.50 a week.
    The premium is not paid if someone receives invalid care allowance
    for looking after the disabled person, but in this case no one is,
    so the underlying entitlement does not count.
  • Norman, 70, provides substantial care to his neighbour, Jean,
    who has attendance allowance. Norman has £15,000 savings, a
    retirement pension and housing benefit. Norman claims ICA, and is
    told he has underlying entitlement. This entitles him to the carer
    premium within his housing benefit, which increases his benefit by
    £16.12 a week (65 per cent of £24.80). His council tax
    benefit would also increase.

When claiming ICA pensioners should show the letter saying that
the allowance cannot be paid to the office that deals with their
income support or housing benefit. The allowance will not be paid

A note of caution: beware of cases where the pensioner could
qualify for ICA and the person being cared for is on income support
and already receiving the severe disability premium. Receiving ICA
would then have the effect of reducing the disabled person’s
income support by £42.25 a week.

So now you have the simple job of telling pensioner carers to
claim a benefit that they probably will not get in order that they
can get extra money from other benefits that they might not yet be

More information from

Gary Vaux is head of money advice, Hertfordshire
Council. He is unable to answer queries in person, either by post
or by telephone. If you have a question to be answered in Welfare
Rights, please write to him c/o Community

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