Invalid Care Allowance is a benefit to help people who are unable to work because they are regularly and substantially engaged in caring for a severely disabled person.
To qualify for this benefit you must be aged between 16 and 65 at the date of your claim, and be spending at least 35 hours a week caring for a severely disabled person who is in receipt of the middle or highest rate of Disability Living Allowance Care Component or Attendance Allowance.
You must not be in full time education and if you work, you must not earn more than £72 per week after deductions of tax, National Insurance and certain permitted expenses (rate as at April 2001).
While you are claiming Invalid Care Allowance, you are credited with Class 1 National Insurance Contributions.
Invalid Care Allowance is counted as income in the assessment for Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. However, because claiming Invalid Care Allowance causes a Carer's Premium to be added to any entitlement you have to those benefits, this might mean you are entitled to more.
Do note that like all National Insurance related benefits, Invalid Care Allowance is subject to the 'overlapping benefit' rules. This means that if you are already claiming another of this 'family' of benefits, you will still only receive an amount of money equal to the larger of them. However, if you are awarded Invalid Care Allowance and do not actually get any extra money due to this rule, you will still be entitled to the Carer's Premium. This will still increase the amount of any Income Support, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit you are presently getting. It might also entitle you to some of these benefits if your income has previously been assessed as being slightly too high.