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Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a benefit for people who are pension age (66) or over when they first claim.
  • AA is a legal entitlement established by an Act of Parliament
  • AA is payable for the care you need not what you may receive - so it doesn't matter if you live alone or you don't have a carer
  • AA is paid to you: if you have a carer, they may be able to claim a separate benefit called Carer's Allowance
  • you can claim AA even if you have savings or other income, pensions and benefits - your finances are not taken into account
  • AA doesn't count as income when other benefits help (such as Pension Credit or help with Council Tax) is worked out
  • if you get AA, you may also be entitled to additional benefits, help with Pension Credit or help with Council Tax
  • AA is not taxable

When to claim AA

If you're of pension age and have only just become ill or disabled or you've never claimed before reaching state retirement pension age you can claim AA.

If you're below the age for claiming AA, seek advice about Personal Independence Payment.

If you receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) because you claimed before you reached 65 (or state pension age), you don't have to switch to Attendance Allowance. If you continue to qualify for DLA or PIP, you'll continue to get it.

What counts as 'personal care'?

What is accepted as personal care for AA is usually the need for assistance from another person with tasks such as:

  • getting in or out of bed
  • sleeping comfortably, turning over or changing position in bed
  • getting dressed or undressed
  • getting to and from the toilet, using the toilet
  • getting in and out of a bath
  • washing and bathing
  • looking after your appearance
  • cutting up food, eating or drinking
  • getting in and out of a chair
  • going up and down stairs
  • transferring to and from a wheelchair
  • moving around safely in your home
  • managing medicines and medical treatment
  • understanding what people say to you, or making yourself understood
  • taking part in hobbies, or social or religious activities

Or you need someone to watch over you because you:

  • suffer falls or you are at risk of falling
  • may suffer blackouts or fits
  • need to be prompted, reminded or encouraged to do things such as those listed
  • may become confused
  • may forget what you are doing and cause danger to yourself or to others
  • may wander off
  • are unaware of danger
  • may neglect or harm yourself

You may still qualify for AA if you can carry out some of these tasks but you struggle to do them, it takes a lot of time, or it's painful or possibly dangerous to do them.

Remember that what counts is the care you reasonably require. So your care needs count even if you live alone or you haven't got a carer.

What doesn't count as personal care?

Housework - but some cleaning that is needed right away may count, for instance if something like bedding or a carpet is soiled and needs to be cleaned straight away and you are unable to do it.

Gardening - if someone does it for you.

If you need help to do shopping, for example if you have problems with your eyesight and you cannot see labels on tins but someone helps you to 'see', this may count. Seek advice.

Care during the day, the night or both

AA looks at the care you need, and also whether you need care during the daytime, the night time or both.

There's a lower rate of AA if you just need care during the day or only at night - and a higher rate if you need both (or you are terminally ill).

You must need help frequently with the tasks listed as 'personal care'. To be 'frequent', the help must be needed throughout the day, but not all the time. For instance if you have problems moving about safely and problems managing getting to and from the toilet, you're probably going to need help frequently.

Alternatively, or as well as this help, you may need someone to watch over you to prevent danger to yourself or others. This needs to be 'continual' but it doesn't mean for the whole time. The less time you can be left alone safely, the more likely you are to qualify for Attendance Allowance.

Night time care usually only counts from when you close down your household for the night and go to bed. If you live alone and go to bed or get up at unusual hours, 'night' may be assumed to be between 11pm and 7am.

At night, you must need help from someone else with personal care, not all the time but twice or more a night, or for at least 20 minutes at a time, or someone needs to be awake to watch over you twice or more a night or for at least 20 minutes at a time.

How much AA is

The Higher Rate is £89.60 weekly. This is payable if you have both day and night time care needs or you are terminally ill.

The Lower Rate is £60 weekly. This is payable if you have either daytime or night time care needs.

Can I get AA right away?

You can be paid AA when you have needed help for at least 6 months. You don't need to wait the whole 6 months to apply. You can apply for AA up to 6 months in advance (for instance if you know your illness will not improve), but you will only be paid once 6 months is up.

If you're terminally ill, this waiting time does not apply.

If your care needs increase

If your care needs increase and you're on the lower rate of AA, it's possible to apply to be put on the higher rate.

However, this can only happen if you now have care needs during both the day and the night. The change in your situation must also have applied for 6 months unless you're terminally ill.

Terminal illness

If you're terminally ill, you may qualify for AA under special rules without a waiting period and without having to complete the full form.

You count as terminally ill if you have a progressive disease and it's likely that you'll die within 6 months. You'll need a form called a DS1500, signed by your GP or consultant. This will explain your condition and you'll not need to complete the full Attendance Allowance form.

Claiming

Contact our helpline tel: 01629 531535.

We can send you a claim form, and will stay in touch with you during the claim process. We can advise you on your rights should you disagree with the decision. We'll also send you hints and tips to help you with filling in the form.

It's possible to request the forms direct from Attendance Allowance on Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm:

  • tel: 0800 731 0122
  • textphone: 0800 731 0317
  • NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 731 0122

How Attendance Allowance is paid

Attendance Allowance is normally paid in to your bank (or other) account - and usually every 4 weeks. AA may be paid alongside your State Retirement Pension.

Does getting Attendance Allowance mean I can get any other benefit help?

Getting Attendance Allowance cannot reduce any of your benefits but it can mean that you get some extra help, for instance if you live alone and nobody claims Carer's Allowance for being your carer. In this situation, you may qualify for more help with your Council Tax bill, or with Pension Credit.

Contact us for further advice on extra help.

Can my carer claim benefit for looking after me?

There is a benefit for carers called Carer's Allowance (CA). If your carer spends at least 35 hours a week looking after you, they may qualify for CA. However, they must not be earning over £128 per week from work, and must be over 16 and not in full-time education.

If your carer is thinking of claiming CA, ask them to contact us first. There are some situations in which a carer being paid CA can mean that the person for whom they care will lose some of their additional help with things like Council Tax or Pension Credit.

Going in to hospital or residential care

Tell the Attendance Allowance office if you go in to hospital as an in-patient, or in to care. In some circumstances, your payment of Attendance Allowance can stop after 4 weeks (or earlier, for instance if you have been in hospital previously), but you may still be paid for any days that you spend at home.

It's important to tell the Attendance Allowance office about changes like this, as if you've been paid benefit when it should have stopped, they may be able to claim it back from you.

Always seek advice if you've been overpaid benefit.

Does AA help with mobility problems out of doors or with vehicle costs?

No. AA is payable only for personal care and has no 'mobility' element, unlike Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This also means that AA does not help with the Motability scheme or with automatic qualification for the Blue Badge parking scheme for disabled people.

However, you may still be able to apply for a Blue Badge on the grounds of having a permanent and substantial disability that affects your walking - your local authority has discretion to allow this.

Contact us

If you contact us, we can discuss entitlement to Attendance Allowance and also we can do a check on your entitlement to other benefits:

We can also help if you have an Attendance Allowance decision you are not happy with.

Tips on completing the form

Attendance Allowance (AA) may be payable if you are physically and/or mentally disabled and need help with personal care or supervision to remain safe. You:

  • don't have to be actually receiving help - it's the help you need that matters, not the help you get
  • can get AA if you live alone
  • do not need to have a carer

To give you the best chance for a successful claim answer all the questions on the claim form as fully as you can. A number of them only require simple factual information. Others are more confusing and less clear about the information that is wanted.

The following advice is based upon the Attendance Allowance (AA1) form dated December 2020.

If you have a terminal illness, read pages 8 of the notes which come with the claim pack. If you get a DS1500 report from a doctor you do not need to answer all the questions on the claim form and AA can be paid without needing to satisfy the 6- month qualifying period. If this is the case make sure you complete up to question 18 of the claim pack, and then go straight to question 45.

Make sure you tick the box at question 12 if you are claiming under the special rules.

Page 5 - question 14

Try to list all health problems and give as much detail as you can. Include a repeat prescription list with the claim pack (make sure it covers all the medication you take). Don't forget to mention any medical equipment you may use, for example, tens machine, nebuliser.

Pages 6 and 7 - questions 15 to 17

Provide the name and address of your GP and any other health professionals (for example, consultant or a physiotherapist) you've seen within the last year or so. In the case of health professionals, it's helpful if they're fully familiar with your difficulties should they be contacted for information by the Department of Work and Pensions when they're assessing your claim.

Page 8 - questions 18 and 19

Tick, sign and date to give consent for your contacts to be approached for information.

Pages 9 and 10 - questions 20 to 25

Straightforward factual information that you need to complete as fully as possible.

Pages 11 to 22 - questions 26 to 39 - care needs during the day

Use the notes which come with the claim pack. The most important part is that it is help you need and how you describe it that will give the best chance of getting Attendance Allowance. This help you need must involve some personal contact with you - this can be physical contact or talking or writing.

Things such as cooking, shopping or cleaning do not usually count as they would not normally need to be carried out with you there. However, if you have a disability (such as sight impairment) which means that you can only cook or shop when someone is there to help you to see what you're doing, this may count. Seek further advice.

It's important to put a tick against any relevant examples and briefly detail how long and how often you need help for each example ticked in the box below - remember that one criterion for award of AA is 'frequent attention throughout the day with bodily functions'.

Page 11 - question 26 - when your care needs started

Unless you have a terminal illness, you must have been in need of care for at least 6 months before AA can be put into payment. If this is the case, them put the most accurate date you feel reflects the date since you needed your current level of care. If you've not reached the 6-month period yet, you can still submit your claim for AA but bear in mind that you'll have to wait for the actual payment of it to be put in place.

If in any doubt ring the Benefits Helpline tel: 01629 531535 for advice.

Pages 23 to 24 - questions 40 to 43 - care needs during the night

This section asks for details of problems you may have during the night. There's no fixed time for the start of the night. During the night, to qualify the help you need must be either 'prolonged' (normally around 20 minutes) or 'repeated' (needed twice or more). As with daytime it's a good idea to tick the examples in the lists on the page and briefly detail the help you need in the box below.

Page 25 - question 44

This page allows you to add any details you have not been able to put in to the other pages or anything else you think is relevant. There's also extra room to add information at question 50, on page 29. You may also add extra sheets if you need more room, but make sure you mark each one with your name and National Insurance Number.

Page 26 to 27 - questions 45 to 48

This requires you to give details of any current or recent time in hospital, and asks for bank details so that AA may pay you if your claim is successful.

Page 28 - question 49 - statement from someone who knows you

Although the claim pack says that this part does not have to be filled in, it can be helpful for someone this who knows you well to complete and can explain how your illness or disability affects you and what care needs you have.

Page 29 - question 50

You can use this page to add anything that may give extra information about your situation, or you can explain in more detail if you did not have enough room on the previous pages.

Page 30 - question 51

Don't forget to sign and date the form and to list any documents you are sending with along with it.

If you've received your form from the Disability and Carers Service, return it to them as soon as possible as it is not possible to backdate a claim for DLA. It's also possible to claim online. If you have received your form via Derbyshire Welfare Rights Service. When you've completed your form and signed the authorisation letter, please return it to our office in the prepaid envelope provided. When we get it, a welfare rights officer will check through your form. If it seems there's enough information on it for your claim to be successful it will be posted (by recorded delivery) to the Attendance Allowance Unit on your behalf. If, after checking your form, the welfare rights officer thinks more information is needed they'll contact you.

Even though we make these checks, the Attendance Allowance Unit may contact you by telephone to clarify details you've given on your form. It may be helpful for you to take a copy of your claim to refer to in such circumstances.

If the claim is refused by the Attendance Allowance Unit, we can assist with a challenge to the decision by way of request for a Mandatory Reconsideration or an appeal.