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Benefits for the person you care for

Attendance Allowance

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Attendance Allowance is a benefit for severely disabled people aged 65 or over who need help with personal care.

People aged under 65 who have care needs should claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Attendance Allowance is not means-tested and it's tax-free.

Attendance Allowance is awarded as either an ongoing benefit or for a fixed period, as determined by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Attendance Allowance claims

To claim Attendance Allowance, you must be aged 65 or over and be present in Great Britain and resident in the United Kingdom.

You must also normally have had care needs for six months, although you can make a claim earlier.

To qualify for Attendance Allowance, the person claiming it must have a physical or mental disability that is severe enough for them to:

  • need attention, including help with things such as washing, dressing or eating; help with communication; encouragement and prompting to do something or look after themselves; or help with reading if the person has a visual impairment
  • need supervision to avoid putting themselves or others in substantial danger 
  • need someone with them, such as when they're on regular dialysis

Examples of the kinds of difficulties that may allow someone to qualify for Attendance Allowance (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • difficulty getting in or out of bed without help 
  • difficulty getting dressed or undressed (it presents problems or takes a long time) 
  • needing physical help or supervision with activities such as having a bath, showering, brushing teeth and shaving 
  • difficulty moving around indoors, getting in and out of chairs, or getting to and from the toilet 
  • being forgetful and needing reminders for things such as taking medication or turning off the gas 
  • not realising when a condition is getting worse 
  • getting dizzy, stumbling or falling 
  • needing encouragement to eat, wash or sleep properly 
  • needing help at night to take medication, go to the toilet, or needing someone to help soothe them back to sleep

Many people will have difficulties other than those listed above. Keeping a diary for a week can help identify what difficulties someone has, how often these difficulties arise, what help is needed, and for how long.

There are two rates of Attendance Allowance, depending on the amount of help needed. A person can get Attendance Allowance for their care needs even if they live alone or nobody is actually giving them the care they need.

Lower rate Attendance Allowance

To get the lower rate Attendance Allowance, you must need:

  • attention frequently throughout the day 
  • supervision continually (for most of the day) 
  • prolonged or repeated attention during the night, or someone needs to watch over you at night 
  • someone to be with you while on dialysis twice or more a week 

Higher rate Attendance Allowance

To get the higher rate of Attendance Allowance, the claimant must have a physical or mental disability that is severe enough for them to need supervision to avoid putting themselves or others in substantial danger.

The higher rate can also be paid if the person claiming Attendance Allowance is terminally ill.

Attendance Allowance and terminal illness

Someone who is terminally ill can make a claim for Attendance Allowance under special rules. Claiming under these special rules ensures the claim is dealt with quickly, normally within eight working days.

The law on Attendance Allowance says someone is regarded as terminally ill if they have a progressive disease and their death from that disease is reasonably expected within six months.

Although there must be a reasonable expectation that death will occur within six months, Attendance Allowance will normally continue to be paid for three years under the special rules. At the end of this time, the claimant may be asked for further information about their health and how it affects them so their entitlement can be reassessed.

If the claim is accepted under the special rules, the claimant will automatically qualify for the higher rate of Attendance Allowance. The claimant doesn't need to complete a qualifying period to be entitled to the benefit.

Making an AA claim under the special rules for terminally ill people

If you are making a claim under the special rules, it's a good idea to discuss it with your GP or consultant. The GP or consultant will need to complete a DS1500 form, which asks for information about your diagnosis and treatment.

The DS1500 form should be sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with an Attendance Allowance claim form. You can get a claim form:

Making an AA claim on behalf of someone else

A claim can also be made on another person's behalf by a carer, family member, friend or professional person. The person who is terminally ill doesn't have to sign the claim form. They will simply be notified that they have been awarded the benefit and payment will be made to them.

The official source of government information on benefits is GOV.UK.

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Page last reviewed: 25/11/2014

Next review due: 25/11/2016

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