BENEFITS EXPERT: I’m caring for injured partner but worried about my benefit

Q. My partner had a serious accident last month and needs assistance. She has applied for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), but we know she can't be paid until 3 months after the accident.

I am on Universal Credit and my commitment for the benefit is to seek work fulltime. My partner is not currently included in my Universal Credit claim as she lives in her own home but I am now having to help with her care needs almost every day. I can't look for work as much as I should as I need to help her, but I am worried that my claim will be sanctioned.

A. You can amend the terms of your Universal Credit (we would also advise to discuss this with your job coach too) via your Universal Credit journal to advise you now have caring responsibilities. You do not currently have to be receiving Carer’s Allowance in order to do this, your Universal Credit payments will remain the same you will simply not have to meet your current job seeking commitments to receive the benefit.

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If your partner’s PIP application succeeds for the Daily Living element of PIP, whether standard or enhanced, then you can then make a claim for Carer’s Allowance. Although Carer’s Allowance is classed as income for Universal Credit being in receipt of Carer’s Allowance will add the Carer’s Addition to your Universal Credit award so overall your benefit income will increase. You can only receive the extra carer’s payment to Universal Credit when Carer’s Allowance is in payment, it will not be paid during the period when you provide care but when you do not get Carer’s Allowance.

We would also advise that if you do decide to proceed with a claim for Carer’s Allowance that your partner also has a benefit check in case it adversely affects any benefits she may be getting or be entitled to claim.