Carer's credit 

Boost your state pension if you provide care

If you care (or cared) for someone for 20+ hours a week, there's a little-known credit that could boost your state pension by £1,000s. These credits work by protecting your national insurance record, which is what dictates your state pension amount. This step-by-step guide tells you how to check if you qualify and how to apply if so.

What counts as caring?


'Caring' is a broad definition that includes helping someone (be they a family member, spouse, child, or even someone you're not related to) with everyday tasks like washing, cooking and shopping.

There are millions of unpaid carers in the UK, all of them unsung heroes. If you're one of them, you may be due Government help, but you need to be caring for someone for AT LEAST 20 hours per week and that person also needs to meet certain criteria:

  • Caring for someone for between 20 and 35 hours a week? If you're of working age and providing unpaid care, you could qualify for carer's credit. While this doesn't entitle you to any financial help now, it can boost your state pension by £1,000s in the future. Keep reading this guide for info on how carer's credit works, who's eligible and how to apply.

  • Caring for someone for more than 35 hours a week? Provided the person you care for receives EITHER attendance allowance, OR the disability living allowance care component at either the middle or higher rate, OR the daily living component of personal independence payment, you could be eligible for both carer's credit AND a carer's allowance payment of £76.75 a week. If you do get carer's allowance, you don't need to claim carer's credit, as it's given automatically.

    For more info on carer's allowance, see our benefits guide.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

Carer's credit can add £1,000s to your state pension entitlement

Carer's credit is a national insurance (NI) 'credit' for for people who provide care for at least 20 hours per week and aren't yet at state pension age. It's designed to protect your NI record from gaps, as many carers might need to give up paid work to provide care for someone. It's crucial to claim it – otherwise the gaps in your state pension record could mean you could get less state pension than you're due. 

The full state pension (for anyone reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2016) is currently worth £203.85 per week. But not everyone gets this. How much you get depends on how many full 'qualifying years' you have on your NI record.

You usually need around 35 full NI years to get the maximum state pension (though some will need more). Each year you meet the criteria for a NI credit during your working life, it appears on your NI record as a 'full qualifying year'. Being in paid employment is one of many ways you can earn these years automatically.

But if you haven't earned enough automatic credits to qualify for the full state pension, there are a range of scenarios that entitle you to apply for NI credits manually. These plug gaps in your NI record and boost your state pension entitlement – potentially by £1,000s.

There are many ways to do this, including buying them (see our Buying NI years guide) but this guide focuses on one of the lesser-known – providing care for someone who can't live without some kind of daily help and is in receipt of certain state benefits.

Can I get carer's credit?


To get carer's credit you need to fulfil these three criteria:

  1. You must be aged between 16 and state pension age. The current state pension age is 66 for men and women, but yours may be different depending on your age, so check the Government's state pension age calculator.

  2. You must look after one or more people for at least 20 hours a week. You don't get more 'credits' if you look after more than one person. You can still get carer's credit if you have breaks from caring (up to 12 weeks in a row), such as if you take a holiday, go into hospital, or the person you're caring for goes into hospital.

  3. The person you're caring for must also receive at least one of these benefits:
    - Disability living allowance (care component at the middle or highest rate)
    - Attendance allowance
    - Constant attendance allowance
    - Personal independence payment (the daily living part at the standard or enhanced rate)
    - The armed forces independence payment
    - Child disability payment at the middle or highest rate
    - Adult Disability Payment daily living component at the standard or enhanced rate.

    If the person you care(d) for doesn't get one of the above, you could still be eligible for carer's credit – fill in the ‘Care Certificate’ part of the application form and get a health or social care professional to sign it.

IMPORTANT: Carer's credit is different to carer's allowance 

As mentioned above, carer's allowance, worth up to £76.75 a week, is a separate benefit to carer's credit.

  • To qualify for carer's allowance, you must care for someone for at least 35 hours a week although you don't have to be related or live with them. 

  • If you're eligible for, and receive, carer's allowance you'll automatically get carer's allowance credit, which works in the same way as carer's credit – so there's no need to worry about claiming for carer's credit too. 

Need advice on carer's allowance? Contact the helpline on 0800 731 0297 (lines open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

Step-by-step: How to claim carer's credit

Step 1: Check your state pension forecast

If you're already on track to get the full state pension, adding extra carer's credits is pointless as it won't boost your entitlement beyond the maximum level. So, the first thing you need to do is check your state pension forecast.

You can do that using the state pension forecast calculator. The full state pension for you is £203.85 a week, so if you're not predicted to get that, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Check your eligibility 

We've outlined the criteria for carer's credit above but, if in doubt, you can also call the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297. 

Important: you DON'T need to apply for Carer’s Credit if you:

  • Get Carer’s Allowance – you’ll automatically get carer's credits.
  • Get Child Benefit for a child under the age of 12 – you’ll automatically get credits.
  • Are a foster carer – you can apply for National Insurance credits instead.

Step 3: Fill in the application form 

Download and complete the digital Carer’s Credit claim form. The form includes a Care Certificate, which you'll need to ask a health or social care professional to sign for you. You can also get the form by calling the Carer’s Allowance Unit.

For alternative formats to the online version of the form mentioned above, contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297 (lines open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm). Textphone and sign language options are also available – see this page for more info.

Can I backdate my claim for Carer's Credit?

Yes – but you can only go back to the last full tax year.

This means a claim made by 5 April 2024, for example, can be backdated to the beginning of the 2022/23 tax year.

You can still backdate your claim to the previous tax year if the person you were caring for has since died, or no longer needs caring for. In these situations it's best to contact the carer's allowance unit using the details listed above.

Still got gaps that need plugging in your NI record? Check if buying NI years could boost your state pension – many aged 45 to 70 can turn £800 into £5,500. But time is running out as you've only till 31 July to buy older years. See our Voluntary NI contributions guide for more.

Is there any extra help for carers?


The Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, sets out carers' legal rights. Part of it includes giving carers a right to request a 'carer's assessment' from their local authority.

This assessment is carried out by a professional from your council who will work out how being a carer affects your life and assess what the council can do to help that.

Young carers (aged under 18) can also apply for an assessment. For more information, see guidance from the Carers Trust and the NHS.

For help and support, carers in England can also call the NHS Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053. For other parts of the UK (although it covers England too), you can contact CarersUK on: or use their online form

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

Spotted out of date info/broken links? Email: