Receiving a notification of overpayment of Carer's Allowance can be a confusing and stressful experience.

Whether it's due to administrative errors, changes in circumstances or misunderstanding eligibility criteria, dealing with an overpayment requires prompt action and careful consideration.

In this article, we'll provide practical advice and guidance for carers who find themselves in this situation, outlining steps to take to address the overpayment and minimise its impact on finances and benefits eligibility.

Understanding Overpayment of Carer's Allowance

The first step in managing an overpayment of Carer's Allowance is to understand why it occurred. So, before you do anything else, review all correspondence from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regarding the overpayment.

Once you’ve read through your letter carefully, try to understand exactly why the overpayment has occurred. This is most likely to happen if you’ve failed to report a change in your circumstances, most typically an increase to your income, but can also relate to a break from your caring duties or something else.

Remember, you can earn up to £151 a week (after deductions) and claim Carer’s Allowance. However, if your income rises above this figure (even temporarily for one week), then you’re not eligible to claim this benefit during this time. Only when your income drops below this threshold, will you be able to claim again.

If you believe the DWP are contacting you in error, then you can request a mandatory reconsideration. You can find contact details on the correspondence sent to you in order to do this.

Once a reconsideration has been made, the DWP will write to you with the outcome. If you still feel like an error has been made, you can take your case to an independent tribunal.

Assessing the Impact

If after investigating the situation you agree that you have been overpaid, it’s a good idea to assess how making a repayment will impact your finances.

The DWP will tell you how much you need to repay and will typically give you the option of a payment plan to make it easier for you to comply. Do your own research to figure out how much you can afford to pay and contact the DWP to share your situation.

If the DWP is asking you to make unrealistic payments that would put you in a difficult position financially, then you can obtain free advice from National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.

Repaying Your Debt

If you are currently receiving Carer's Allowance and you've been alerted to an overpayment, deductions can be made directly from future Carer's Allowance payments. This means you'll receive less money until your debt is repaid.

If you are no longer claiming Carer's Allowance and you're asked to repay due to a previous overpayment, this may be pursued in a number of ways. In this event, it's typical that the DWP will first offer you a voluntary repayment plan based on your personal financial circumstances. 

If you don't agree to the voluntary repayment plan and you're in paid employment, the DWP can apply a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA), which means deductions will be taken from your income. It's also possible that the DWP will pass your case on to a debt collection agency, which may lead to further financial penalties. 

Overpayments and Benefit Fraud

If the DWP believes you have deliberately provided false information for financial gain, criminal charges may be raised. In this case, you'll receive a letter inviting you to an interview under caution. Although this can feel very stressful, it's important to attend the interview and to explain your situation in full.

It's highly recommended that you get a solicitor for the interview and Citizens Advice can help you to find free or low-cost legal assistance. 

Your benefits will possibly be stopped while you're under investigation and Citizens Advice can also provide financial advice if you find yourself in this situation. 

If the outcome of your interview is that you're guilty of deliberately misleading the DWP, criminal charges may follow. Your solicitor will advise you on what will happen next in your case. 

On the other hand, if the interview reveals that you didn't deliberately do anything illegal, you will possibly still have to repay the overpaid amount. 

Notify the Department for Work and Pensions

It may be the case that you realise you’re being overpaid Carer’s Allowance before the DWP contacts you. In this case, you should alert them as soon as possible on 0800 916 0647. This phone line is open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 7:30pm.

Seek Guidance and Support

Navigating the benefits system can be complex and stressful, especially if you’ve unexpectedly received a repayment demand.

If you're unsure about how to proceed or you need help to manage the process, then don’t worry, there are a number of organisations that can help you.

Several organisations in the UK provide assistance and support to individuals who are facing prosecution or legal issues related to benefits, including cases involving the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Here are some great places to turn for help and advice in such situations:

  • Citizens Advice
  • Law Centres
  • AdviceUK
  • Disability Rights UK
  • National Debtline

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provides free, confidential advice and support on a wide range of issues, including benefits, debt, housing and legal matters.

They can offer guidance on navigating the legal process and provide assistance with challenging decisions or appealing against penalties imposed by the DWP.

Law Centres

Law Centres are independent, not-for-profit legal practices that offer free or low-cost legal advice and representation to individuals facing social welfare law issues, including benefits-related cases.

The Law Centres Network will help you find your nearest Law Centre. 


AdviceUK is a network of independent advice agencies that provide free, confidential advice and support on various issues, including benefits, debt, housing and employment.

Visit Advice UK to check which registered organisations can offer assistance with relevant support.

Disability Rights UK

Disability Rights UK is a charity that provides information, advice and support to disabled individuals and their families. They offer guidance on benefits entitlements, rights and entitlements, including assistance with challenging decisions or appealing against benefit sanctions or penalties.

National Debtline

While not specific to benefits issues, National Debtline offers free, confidential debt advice and support to individuals facing financial difficulties, including those arising from benefit overpayments, sanctions, or legal proceedings. They can provide guidance on managing debt, negotiating repayment arrangements, and accessing support services.

It's essential to seek advice and support from reputable organizations or legal professionals with experience in benefits-related cases. These organizations can provide valuable assistance in understanding your rights, navigating the legal process, and advocating on your behalf to ensure a fair outcome.

Prevent Future Overpayments

If you are still in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or intend to claim it again in the future, it’s important to avoid being overpaid again.

Keeping an accurate record of your income every week is a great way to ensure you don’t accidentally earn over the £151 (after deductions) threshold.

Additionally, make sure you always contact the DWP immediately if there’s any relevant change in your circumstances, no matter how small it may be.

If any issues do arise, it’s incredibly helpful to have all of your documents organised, so you can easily understand the situation. So, keeping all of your correspondence from the DWP together in a safe place, alongside financial records, is a great idea.

Being a carer can naturally be stressful, especially if you don’t have all the information about the help available to you. Check out our previous article on Financial Support for Unpaid Carers for the latest advice and info.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Overpayment of Carer's Allowance Be Written Off?

The DWP can usually only reclaim overpayments made within the last six years, so debt dating back further than this will typically be written off.

Will I Lose My Carer's Allowance If I Start Work?

Starting a new job doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose the right to claim Carer's Allowance. If your income is below £151 (after deductions) then you are still eligible to receive this benefit. 

How Long Do You Get Carers Allowance After Your Loved One Passes Away?

If the person you are caring from dies, you will continue to receive Carer's Allowance for eight weeks. However, if you are aged 65 or older, you are legally entitled to continue receiving your payments indefinitely.