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Attendance Allowance if you have a terminal illness

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.

This information is for people applying for Attendance Allowance under the special rules because they have a terminal illness.

On this page:

Who can claim under the special rules?

If you’re living with a terminal illness and you qualify for Attendance Allowance, your claim will be fast-tracked, you’ll get the highest rate, and you won’t have to fill in the whole application form. This is sometimes called applying under the special rules.

You may be eligible to claim Attendance Allowance under the special rules if:

  • you’re aged 65 or over
  • you have a physical or mental disability
  • your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own or someone else’s safety
  • your death can reasonably be expected within the next six months.

It’s not means tested, so it is not affected by any earnings, savings or other income you have.

You don’t need to have a carer, or someone helping you, to qualify. What matters is the help you need.

It’s often very difficult to know how long someone might live for and it might not be something you’ve talked about with your doctor. If your doctor hasn’t talked with you about how long you might live for, you can still ask them about supporting your claim under the special rules. 

You usually must be in Great Britain and have lived there for two of the last three years. You can find out more about residency and citizenship criteria at GOV.UK  .

If you're not sure whether you might qualify, you could look at getting benefits advice.

If you're likely to live longer than six months

Many people with a terminal illness live longer than six months. If you’re expected to live longer, you can still apply for Attendance Allowance. There is a different process for applying and it usually takes longer. You can find out more at:

Other things to think about

The benefit is usually paid in addition to any other social security benefits you may have. Getting Attendance Allowance can also help you to get other benefits. 

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.

If you don’t qualify for Attendance Allowance because of your age, you might be able to claim:

How much could I get?

There are two rates, which depend on the amount of help you need.

  • Lower rate: £55.65 a week
  • Higher rate: £83.10 a week.

If you qualify under the special rules, you’ll automatically get the higher rate of £83.10 a week.

How do I make a claim?

You can start your claim by phoning the Attendance Allowance Helpline (0345 605 6055; textphone 0345 604 5312) or download 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 028 9031 1092) and asking them to send you a claim form. Alternatively, you can download the claim form from nidirect  .

It’s better to phone the helpline, rather than download the form. As long as you return the claim form within six weeks of your call, your claim can be backdated to the date of your call rather than when they receive your claim form.

On the phonecall you should tell them that you’re claiming under the special rules.

Ask your doctor to complete the factual statement (DS 1500)

You’ll be asked to send a factual statement (called a DS 1500 report) from your doctor or consultant when you make the claim. Your GP or hospital doctor should have copies of these forms, and will fill one in for you before sending it back to you or directly to DWP.

The assessment process

Once the Disability Benefits Centre has received your claim form, they may arrange for one of their doctors or healthcare professionals to visit you to write a report on your needs. This will then be sent to an officer from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or Disability and Carers Service (DCS) in Northern Ireland. They’ll decide on your claim.

Once you apply, you should get a decision back within about 2 weeks.

Can I claim for someone else?

You can claim on someone’s behalf. If you’re making a claim on someone’s behalf, you should tell them that you’re making a claim and you’ll need their personal details. You don’t need to tell them that you’re making a claim under the special rules or that their death can reasonably be expected in the next six months. You will need to ask their doctor to support their claim.

What happens if my claim is accepted?

Attendance Allowance is normally paid into your bank or building society 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.

Payments are usually made for three years, so they can be looked at again after this time.

What happens if my claim is rejected?

If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or Disability and Carers Service (DCS) in Northern Ireland, decides that you don’t meet their definition of a terminal illness, they’ll consider your claim under the ordinary assessment process (see above).

If your claim is refused or you disagree with the 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 further month to appeal. In England, Wales and Scotland, you can download the appeal form SSCS1 from GOV.UK  . In Northern Ireland, you can download the appeal form N0A1(SS) from nidirect  .

Reporting a change in my circumstances

If there is a change in your circumstances or you gave incorrect information by mistake, you need to report it.

Find out more about reporting a change in circumstances at GOV.UK   or nidirect   if you live in Northern Ireland. 

Useful links

GOV.UK   - Attendance Allowance


  - Attendance Allowance 

About this information

Marie Curie's Information and Support team has produced this information with help from:

  • Director of Corporate Services, Marie Curie
  • Disability Rights UK
  • Our Readers Panel volunteers.

This information is not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.

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