State pension warning: Carers face missing out on retirement income due to simple mistake

Care: Research shows a quarter of UK adults are carers

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Thousands of carers across the UK are failing to access vital Carer’s Credits which go towards their state pension entitlement. Carer’s Credit allows those who are not in full-time paid employment to fill in the gaps in their National Insurance record. How much someone receives from their state pension is dependent on their previous National Insurance contributions.

A state pension claimant needs to have at least 35 years of National Insurance contributions to receive the full amount possible from their retirement pot – although some may get a different amount such as if they were contracted out.

Last December, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request carried out by financial firm Quilter found that just 4,759 people claimed Carer’s Credits in 2021.

Quilter estimated that this meant that the number of Carer’s Credits claimed by the end of last year would have been 5,568.

This is slightly higher than last year’s figure of 5,221, but is still 13 percent below figures reported before the pandemic.

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Recent Government figures estimate that 4.5 million people have become unpaid carers within the last two years due to the pandemic.

This number does not include the already existing 9.1 million unpaid carers already looking after loved ones prior to COVID-19.

Some 20 percent of the estimated eligible population have claimed support through credits as of December 2021, with only 44,285 carers making claims for Carer’s Credits.

Back in 2015, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) reported that around 200,000 carers would be eligible for the National Insurance top-up.

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Olivia Kennedy, a financial planner at Quilter, outlined how many carers find themselves losing out on their full state pension due to this credit error.

Ms Kennedy explained: “Carers play an essential role in propping up this country and it is only right that they at the very least receive a pension credit in return.

“But, despite the pandemic increasing the amount of people requiring care, the number of people applying for the credit continues to lag pre-pandemic levels.

“Unfortunately, many people fail to see themselves as carers and fail to apply for carers credit.”

The financial expert emphasised the “disastrous” consequences which could come about due to someone’s failure to receive vital Carer’s Credits.

Referring to the Government’s social care plans, Ms Kennedy predicts that many low income families will be pushed into becoming unpaid carers for their loved ones in light of pending changes.

She added: “Failing to do so can have a disastrous impact on someone’s financial wellbeing as many people begin being a carer later on in life and might need the credits to get the full state pension.

“The Government recently finally set out its long-awaited social care plan, which applies a £86,000 cap on care costs.

“However, the detail revealed that some lower income households will now need to meet almost all of that £86,000.

“Many people will try to prevent the need to dip into family savings by caring for loved ones themselves and it’s imperative that these people still look after their own financial wellbeing and claim these important credits.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the valuable role of unpaid carers – especially during the pandemic – and remain committed to helping them financially, along with their health, wellbeing and employment chances.

“Universal Credit includes a carer’s element worth more than £160 a month and since 2010 we have increased Carer’s Allowance, putting an additional £700 a year in carers’ pockets. Those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance may be entitled to other support, including benefits.”

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