Can you get benefits for dementia care?

Find out what financial support you, or someone you’re caring for, can receive to help with dementia care

In a nutshell

As the dementia journey progresses, there may come a time when your loved one will need more help and support. Paying for this kind of care can be challenging, particularly if you have already had to give up work to look after them. However, there are a whole range of benefits out there that you may both be eligible for, and which could help provide financial support.

Did you know? Dementia carers save the UK economy an estimated £8 bn a year by caring for their loved one themself rather than using a professional, one of the key factors prompting Government policy to support carers.

Why claim?

Many people can feel embarrassed to admit that they’re claiming government benefits, but you really shouldn’t. They can make a real difference, and the money is there for you if you qualify. You may have paid your taxes for many years and now could be the time for you to get something back.

Just remember, having dementia doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically qualify for benefits. Sometimes tests are required, and some benefits require that you’ve been paying enough national insurance contributions over the years.

Benefits for the person with dementia

If you have dementia and it’s affecting your ability to carry out daily life, you may be eligible for the following benefits:

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

These are benefits for people under that age of 65 years. PIP is a new benefit and replaces the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), although it’s still known as this for people living in Northern Ireland. These benefits will support people who have difficulty getting around (mobility care) and those who have trouble with things such as washing, dressing, eating and using the toilet (personal care).

The money you receive is tax free and isn’t affected by national insurance contributions, your savings or your income. However, there are differing levels for the benefit – known as standard or enhanced rate – depending on your ability to do things, and the amount you receive is different for mobility care and personal care.

Attendance allowance

If you’re aged over 65 you may qualify for attendance allowance. It’s based on the care you need, not the level of care you’re receiving, so even if you don’t currently get support from a carer, you may still be entitled to this benefit if you have dementia.

It can provide help or supervision with personal care (washing, dressing, eating, going to the toilet, turning over or settling in bed, taking medication or social or recreational activities).

Like PIP, the attendance allowance is paid for at a higher and lower rate, depending on your needs.

However, this benefit will only cover personal care, and is not for mobility support.

Cold weather and winter fuel payments

Although not strictly related to issues with dementia, ensuring that you or the person you care for is comfortable during the winter months is very important.

The government will provide extra payments if the average temperature in your area falls to freezing point or below for seven consecutive days. However, cold weather payments are only available for people who receive means-tested benefits such as Pension Credit, Income support.

The Winter Fuel Payment, which is also referred to as the winter fuel allowance or heating allowance, is an annual tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 which helps people born on or before 5 July 1952 to pay for their heating in the winter.

Bear in mind that the age at which you can receive a winter fuel payment is rising because it is linked to the increase State Pension age. Those over the age of 80 may be eligible for more money.

Council Tax

This is a charge levied on residential properties in England, Wales and Scotland (but not Northern Ireland, which has a different system).

People who are judged to be mentally impaired can be exempted from paying council tax, however, there are certain rules, exemptions or disregards. For more information, click here.

Benefits for carers

If you are caring for someone with dementia, it can affect your ability to work and earn a living, and so you may be eligible for extra support.

Carer’s allowance

This is a benefit to help support people who care for someone receiving DLA, PIP or Attendance Allowance payments. In order to qualify for it, you need to spend more than 35 hours per week caring for someone, be aged over 16, not be in full-time education and earn less than £110 per week. The carer does NOT have to be related to the person in order to receive Carer’s Allowance.

BUT, you can’t claim this benefit if you’re already claiming a state pension or some other benefits. However, you should still attempt a claim as you may be eligible for additional amounts in these benefits.

Did you know? Millions of pounds of carers’ benefits go unclaimed every year.

Carer’s Credits

If you spend more than 20 hours a week caring for someone but don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance and aren’t yet receiving a State Pension, you might be able to claim Carer’s Credits. These are National Insurance credits towards your pension while you’re not making any contributions yourself because of your caring role.

Employment and support allowance

If you have your own health problems as well caring responsibilities, you may be eligible for employment and support allowance. It’s a taxable benefit and is either means-tested or based on your national insurance contributions.

Other benefits

There are also other benefits that may help you, but they’re not specifically related to dementia care. These include:

- Income support
- Job seeker’s allowance (JSA)
- State pension
- Pension credit
- Housing benefit
- Help with NHS costs (if you’re receiving other benefits such as income support or JSA).

These benefits are usually means-tested benefits, except for the state pension, which is dependent on whether you paid national insurance contributions.

If you’re over the age of 60, you’ll also qualify for free prescriptions and free sight tests. If you’re under 60, you’ll get these benefits if you’re on income support, JSA, pension credit or working tax credit (a payment that you may qualify for it you work but are on a low income).

Blue badge parking lets drivers who have passengers with mobility issues park in more convenient locations, such as disabled parking bays, or single or double lines for up to three hours.

VAT exemption

If you’re disabled or have a long-term illness, you won’t be charged VAT on products designed or adapted for your own personal or domestic use. Also, you won’t be charged VAT on the installation and any extra work needed as part of this, repairs or maintenance and spare parts or accessories. The types of products that you can get VAT-free include:
- Adjustable beds
- Stair lifts
- Wheelchairs
- Medical appliances to help with severe injuries
- Alarms
- Braille paper or low vision aids - but not spectacles or contact lenses
- Motor vehicles - or the leasing of a motability vehicle
- Building work like ramps, widening doors, installing a lift or toilet

To get the product VAT free your disability has to qualify. For VAT purposes, you’re disabled or have a long-term illness if you have a physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to carry out everyday activities, eg dementia, you have a condition that’s treated as chronic sickness, like diabetes or you’re terminally ill. Look out for products that are labelled as ‘VAT-exempt’ or ‘VAT free’.

Not sure how to claim these benefits? Click here for information and advice on where to start.

Article last updated: 16/07/15