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Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit that can help with the extra costs of a disability or health condition if you’re aged 65 or over.

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What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance is a benefit for people aged 65 or over who have a physical or mental disability and need help to care for themselves or someone to supervise them to remain safe. 

The benefit is usually paid on top of any earnings, social security benefits or other income you may have. It’s not means tested, so getting it doesn’t depend on how much money you have and you can claim it whether you’re in or out of work. It’s also not based on whether you have paid National Insurance contributions. 

You don’t need to have a carer, or someone helping you, to qualify. What matters is the help you need. You may spend it on anything you like. Getting Attendance Allowance can also help you to get other benefits.

Other similar benefits

If you’re aged between 16 and 64, you may be able to claim Personal Independent Payment instead of Attendance Allowance. 

If you’re under 16, you may be able to claim Disability Living Allowance.

Attendance Allowance for people living with a terminal illness

If you’re living with a terminal illness your claim for Attendance Allowance may be processed more quickly under the special rules. This means if you’re not likely to live for more than six months, your claim will be fast-tracked and if you qualify you’ll get the benefit at the highest rate.

Attendance Allowance for people who don’t have a terminal illness

Attendance Allowance is paid because of the effect your illness or disability has on your everyday life, and how much care you need because of this. You must need care, help or support with things like:

The benefit may also be paid if you need supervision to prevent danger to yourself or others. 

You can get Attendance Allowance once you’ve had daily living needs or mobility problems for at least six months. If you have a terminal illness and you’re likely to live for more than six months, you’ll have to claim in this way. 

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How much could you get?

There are two rates, which depend on the help or care you need and the amount of time you need someone to be on hand in case of accidents or emergencies.

  • Lower rate: £55.65 a week for people who only have daytime needs
  • Higher rate: £83.10 a week for people who have daytime and night time needs.

How to claim Attendance Allowance

You can start your claim by phoning the Attendance Allowance Helpline (0345 605 6055 or 0845 605 6055*; textphone 0345 604 5312) or get the claim form (form AA1A) from GOV.uk

In Northern Ireland, you can start your claim by phoning the Disability and Carers Service (0300 123 3356; textphone 0289 031 1092), or you can get a claim form from the nidirect website.

Generally, it’s better to phone the helpline, rather than use the online form, because your claim can be backdated to the date of your call. A claim form issued by Attendance Allowance Helpline or Disability and Carers Service in Northern Ireland will be date stamped and will come with a postage-paid envelope addressed to the Disability Benefits Centre that will be handling the initial claim.

If you return the completed claim form within six weeks, the date you phoned and asked for the form counts as the date of claim. If you take longer than six weeks to return the completed form, you should explain why on the form. If the delay is reasonable, the time limit can be extended. If not, the date of claim is the day the completed claim form reaches the Disability Benefits Centre.

If you download a form from the websites mentioned above, the date of claim is the day the completed form reaches the Disability Benefits Centre. You can’t backdate a claim for Attendance Allowance to an earlier date.

If you’re claiming under the special rules, you’ll be asked to send a factual statement (called a DS 1500 report) from your doctor or consultant to the DWP or DCS when you make the claim. Your doctor should have copies of these forms.

Can someone claim on my behalf?

Another person, including your doctor, can claim Attendance Allowance on your behalf. You don’t have to make the claim, present when the claim is made, or even know the claim is being made.

If you qualify as terminally ill under the special rules

If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Disability and Carers Service (DCS) in Northern Ireland agree that you have a terminal illness based on their definition, you’ll be awarded Attendance Allowance at the higher rate from your claim date. Awards are usually made for three years, so they can be looked at again after this time.

If the DWP or DCS decide that you don’t meet their definition of a terminal illness, they’ll go on to consider your claim under the ordinary assessment for the benefit.

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The assessment process if you don’t qualify as terminally ill

You must explain how you need care in your claim form. This can include things like help or support with getting in and out of bed or needing supervision to prevent danger to yourself or others. You may have a visit from a doctor or healthcare professional approved by the DWP or DCS to report on your needs. This process can take several months.

If your Attendance Allowance claim is accepted

Attendance Allowance is normally paid into your bank account every four weeks in arrears. It can be paid weekly in advance if you’re living with a terminal illness. You can spend it on anything you like and you don’t have to spend it on disability-related needs. Payment normally stops if you go into hospital or a care home for 28 days or longer.

If your Attendance Allowance claim is rejected

If your claim is refused or you disagree with the DCS or DWP’s written decision, you have one month to ask for the decision to be reconsidered. This is called mandatory reconsideration. If you’re not happy with the outcome of the reconsideration, you have a you have a further month to appeal. Mandatory reconsideration isn’t currently available in Northern Ireland so you’ll go through the appeals process instead.

If you’re already getting Attendance Allowance and become terminally ill

Read our information about what to do if you’re already getting Attendance Allowance and become terminally ill.

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Useful links

Disability Rights UK   - Personal Independence Payment
GOV.uk   – Personal Independence Payment

*Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. Your call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.

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