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Last updated:
24/11/2023

Can I take a break if I am a mental health carer?

  1. What is Carer’s Allowance?
  2. How is Carer’s Allowance affected by other benefits?
  3. Can I take a break if I am a mental health carer?
  4. What is the Carer Premium?
  5. What are Carer’s Credits?
  6. Council tax discounts as a mental health carer

Caring full-time for someone with a mental health condition can be challenging, but you can take a break and still receive Carer’s Allowance.

You can take a break from caring for someone with a mental health condition and still receive Carer’s Allowance as long as:

  • You have given 35 hours of care a week for 22 of the past 26 weeks.

You need to be aware of specific conditions to keep receiving your Carer’s Allowance when you take a break.

What is a break from caring?

The DWP defines a break from caring as:

“any period when you spend less than 35 hours a week caring for the other person.”

If you are a mental health carer and you temporarily stop providing care, you can still claim mental health Carer’s Allowance.

You can take a break in caring for any reason for up to four weeks in every 26 weeks you are caring for someone full-time as long as:

  • You are 16 years old or higher.
  • You are not in full-time education.
  • You do not earn over £128 a week net (after all tax, NI and half of any pension deductions).
  • You normally live in the UK and satisfy UK status and residency conditions.
  • You have been providing 35 hours of care a week for 22 of the past 26 weeks and,
  • The person you are caring for receives one of the following qualifying benefits:
    • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component at standard or higher rate.
    • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) middle or higher rate.
    • Attendance Allowance (AA) or Constant Attendance Allowance.
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).

Taking a break in caring might include:

  • Taking a week off to rest.
  • Taking time off to visit friends and family.

What if I go abroad?

You can take a break of up to four weeks out of 26 weeks. If you and the person you care for meet the other qualifying conditions, you can go abroad for short periods.

This means you could go abroad for a short holiday without losing your entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

What if I have used my four-week break entitlement and then go abroad with the person I care for?

You can still receive Carer’s Allowance if:

  • The person you care for continues to get their qualifying benefit (up to a maximum period of 26 weeks) and,
    • The purpose of your trip abroad is to look after them.
    • Your total breaks don’t add up to more than 12 weeks in the past 26 weeks.

What if I only take one day off every now and then during the year?

This is unlikely to affect your mental health Carer’s Allowance. However, it would help to record how many days you take off in the year to avoid any risk of losing Carer’s Allowance.

What if I or the person I care for goes into hospital?

If you go into hospital

You will still get Carer’s Allowance for up to 12 weeks if:

  • You have given 35 hours of care a week for 14 of the past 26 weeks and,
  • The person you care for continues to receive their qualifying benefit.

If the person you care for goes into hospital

You will still get Carer’s Allowance if:

  • The person you care for continues to receive their qualifying benefit.

However, if the person you care for goes into hospital for longer than 28 days, their qualifying disability benefit will usually stop.

If this happens, you will not receive your Carer’s Allowance after this time.

Carer’s Premium when in hospital?

If the person you care for goes into hospital and their qualifying benefit stops, you can still get Carer’s Premium, Addition, or Element paid within any means-tested benefits you receive for eight weeks after your Carer’s Allowance stops.

You must tell the DWP if you or the person you care for goes into hospital. If you don’t, your benefits could be stopped. You can find out more about mental health carer support services at Rethink Mental Illness.

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Within this subject

  1. What is Carer’s Allowance?
  2. How is Carer’s Allowance affected by other benefits?
  3. Can I take a break if I am a mental health carer?
  4. What is the Carer Premium?
  5. What are Carer’s Credits?
  6. Council tax discounts as a mental health carer
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