Know your benefits: Financial help for dementia care

July 12, 2016

This information was checked and updated in February 2019.

Benefits for dementia patients are not widely publicised, and dementia can create financial worries. As a carer or the person with dementia you may no longer be able to work. Plus you may need to pay for additional care services or specialist products to aid and support you. We are often asked about what support is available from the government and local authorities, so we’ve pulled together a list of benefits that you may be entitled to as a carer, or if you have been diagnosed with dementia. We hope this helps you to navigate options that may be available to you.

Firstly, if you have a dementia diagnosis or are caring for someone who does, use the online Benefits Calculator, which will help to advise you on what financial help for people with dementia is available.

Here’s a list of the different types of benefit entitlements that may be available to you if you’re living with dementia:

Attendance Allowance

Helps with extra costs if you have a disability severe enough that you need someone to help look after you. Claiming Attendance Allowance will not reduce any other income received and it is tax-free. If you are awarded it, you may become entitled to other benefits, such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, or an increase in these. Go to: gov.uk or call 0800 731  0122.

Carer’s Allowance

This is paid to the carer of someone who receives other benefits, like Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. To claim you need to be 16 or over, spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone, earn no more than £120 a week, and not be receiving some other benefits, like Incapacity Benefit or a state pension. The person being cared for may lose some of their benefits if their carer receives this allowance, so it’s important to get advice before making a claim. Call 0800 731 0297 or apply online at gov.uk.

Carer’s Credit

Is a benefit paid by the UK government to carers which helps build the carer’s entitlement to the basic State and additional State Pension. Your income, savings or investments won’t affect eligibility for Carer’s Credit but you need to be caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week, be over 16 but under State Pension age, and be looking after someone who gets specific benefits, like Attendance Allowance. Call 0800 731 0297 (textphone 0800 731 0317) or download the Carer’s Credit. 

Council Tax Reduction

Is a 25% reduction on your council tax which you could be eligible for if you or your partner has dementia. Some carers are not counted for council tax if they are living with and caring for a person with dementia, who gets the higher rate of Attendance Allowance or Personal Independent Payment. To apply call your local council tax department and ask for a form for ‘mental impairment’. Find out more at gov.uk 

Many people living with someone with dementia are missing out on a 25% council tax discount worth an average of £400 a year. To highlight this issue we’ve been working with Money Saving Expert on their campaign to raise awareness of the discount, which they could be eligible to if they or their partner has dementia.

People are either unaware of the existence of the discount or are losing out thanks to poor and confusing information being provided by their local authority. In some cases, where people may be able to claim retrospectively – though this isn’t universal – they could be missing out on £1,000s. If you or your partner have dementia you may find that you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, but there’s financial support available, so it’s important to find out what you’re entitled to.

In England, Scotland and Wales someone who has been medically certified as having a  permanent severe mental impairment such as dementia ,  and who is entitled to a disability benefit e.g. Attendance allowance, personal independence payment or disability living allowance, could be entitled to a Council Tax reduction or exemption.  This could result in a reduction of 25% where two people are living in a property and one person diagnosed with dementia meets the disregard criteria, or an exemption if the person with dementia is living alone.

Degenerative Cognitive Impairment exemption

A Degenerative Cognitive Impairment exemption could result in a Council Tax reduction of 25% where two people are living in a property and one person diagnosed with dementia meets the disregard criteria, or an exemption if the person with dementia is living alone. In England, Scotland and Wales someone who has been medically certified as having a  permanent severe mental impairment such as dementia,  and who is entitled to a disability benefit e.g. Attendance allowance, personal independence payment or disability living allowance, could be entitled to this reduction or exemption.  For full details of this discount, contact your local council. Your council may automatically grant a discount, but you can also apply for one. For more information go to moneysavingexpert.com

How do I claim for a reduction or reclaim if I’ve overpaid in the past?

The process for making a claim varies by area, so you’ll need to check your local authority’s procedure, but here are the basics. Either the family carer or the person with dementia can make the claim.

  • You’ll need a doctor’s diagnosis. In some cases you’ll need to attach a written diagnosis to your claim – in others you just give your doctor’s details and they’ll be contacted for confirmation.
  • Get a claim form to apply for a reduction.. You’ll need to contact your local authority for a claim form to register for a council tax discount (find contact details via the Government’s ‘Apply for Council Tax Reduction’ service). Fill this in – you may be asked to attach some supporting evidence, such as the doctor’s diagnosis or evidence of receipt of relevant benefits.
  • If the person with dementia doesn’t claim a benefit, you may need a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). If the person you’re living with qualifies for a benefit but for whatever reason doesn’t claim it (they should), then in some cases councils will ask you to get a letter of confirmation from the DWP saying you’re eligible.
  • Apply for a backdated discount separately. If you’re making a retrospective claim, you’ll need to write to your local authority explaining the circumstances – you’ll need to do this separately even if you’re claiming for a reduction going forward as well, though you can attach your letter to the claim form.
  • You don’t need to explain why you didn’t apply for a reduction earlier, but you will need to prove the criteria for a discount applied at the relevant time in the past.
  • In Northern Ireland it works differently. There’s a rates system instead of council tax, meaning that every property is valued individually. See full info on the NIdirect.

Direct payments (cash)

These may be made by local authority social service departments to people who need community care services. This allows you to choose and buy services you need, instead of getting them from your local council. The payment is means tested following an assessment from your local council and it should be enough to cover the support that the person with dementia has been assessed as needing.  To apply in England, Wales or Scotland, visit gov.uk. To apply in Northern Ireland, visit nidirect.gov.uk

Disability Premium

Can be added to Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance if you qualify for it. The person must be under pension-age and be getting some of the benefits mentioned above to qualify. You don’t have to claim Disability Premium as it’s automatically added to your Income Support if you’re eligible. Call your local Jobcentre Plus (find out yours here) or read more at gov.uk.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

This is a benefit paid to people whose illness or disability affects their ability to work. To qualify you need to be: under State Pension age, not getting Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay, and not getting Jobseeker’s Allowance. You may also be transferred from Incapacity Benefit to ESA and won’t be expected to return to work. Call 0800 328 5644 (textphone 0800 328 1344 ) or go to gov.uk.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

A benefit which helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability. You must not have reached state pension age and be living in Great Britain. PIP is tax-free and you can get it whether you’re in or out of work. To apply call 0800 917 2222 (textphone 0800 917 7777) or go visit gov.uk.

Dementia Helpline

The Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline is for anyone with a question or concern about dementia.

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Information leaflets

Read our information leaflets, covering a wide range of topics including our Admiral Nurses, continence, delirium, sundowning and many more

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