Many thousands of people of working age, and who are caring for others, could find themselves with a radically-reduced State Pension unless they start claiming for Carer’s Credit.
Around one in eight adults in the UK are carers, approximately 6.5 million people. Inevitably, women bear the heaviest share of the care – outnumbering men by two to one. And for many, the responsibilities mean putting work on hold, or going part time.
However, that can build up problems for the future – by creating gaps in National Insurance contributions. You need 35 years of contributions to receive what is an important part of most of our incomes in retirement – and every year where you don’t make a contribution will lose you 1/35th of your eventual pension.
But there is some good news – in the shape of the Carer’s Credit, launched in 2010.
To receive that, you must be between 16 and state pension age and look after at least one person for a minimum of 20 hours a week. If that sounds like you, you can have a contribution made for you – without actually paying for it yourself.
If you claim Carer’s Allowance, a separate payment, you will get the credit as well, which could increase your state pension by £244 a year (at today’s rates).
If the person you care for does not receive a benefit such as disability living allowance, you may still be able to make a claim, but you will need a note from a health or social care professional. Claims can be backdated for one year.
Alarmingly, more than 90pc of those eligible for the credit last year did not claim it, according to a recent Freedom of Information request by Quilter, the wealth adviser.
The Department for Work and Pensions estimates around 200,000 carers are eligible… but only 17,388 actually claimed it in 2018. People in their 50s and 60s have the most caring responsibilities: three out of every five carers in England and Wales are aged 50 years and over.
Helen Walker, of Carers UK, a charity, said: “While caring for someone close to you can be rewarding, it also forces many carers into ill-health, poverty and isolation. We know that caring unpaid for a loved one can have a big impact on finances over time, so it’s important carers get the financial support they’re entitled to at the earliest opportunity.”
You can find out how long your pensions and savings will last–and what would happen if you took out more or less at any given point–with the RetireEasy LifePlan. You can also check out the impact of putting funds aside for later life care. Go to: www.retireeasy.co.uk