Attendance Allowance is a benefit that helps with the extra costs of long-term illness or disability, which can be either physical and/or mental. It is for people aged 65 and over.
Note: If you are aged 16-64 you should be claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you are claiming for someone who is aged 16 and under you should be claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Claiming Attendance Allowance can help you or the person you care for qualify for other benefits and/or Tax Credits. For example:
- If a person gets Attendance Allowance then the person caring for them may be able to claim Carer's Allowance.
- Getting Attendance Allowance may help get a Council Tax discount.
Attendance Allowance is more flexible than most benefits. For example:
- It is not means-tested. It can be paid regardless of your income, savings or National Insurance contribution record.
- It is tax free.
- You can get Attendance Allowance even if you are working or studying.
- There are no restrictions on how you can spend your Attendance Allowance money.
- Carers who are disabled or ill can also claim Attendance Allowance in their own right, even if they already get, or qualify for, Carer’s Allowance.
The application process can be long and complicated. Many carers help the person they are looking after to complete the claim form or complete it on their behalf. The more you know about these benefits the more likely it is that the person you are looking after will be able to make a successful claim.
How much is it worth?
The weekly rates for Attendance Allowance from April 2015 to March 2016 are:
Who can claim?
To qualify for Attendance Allowance you must meet all of the following conditions:
- Satisfy one or more of the daytime or night-time tests (see below), or have a terminal illness. Special rules also apply for some patients undergoing renal dialysis – in this instance, seek further advice from the Carers UK Adviceline.
- Have satisfied a day-time or night-time test for at least 6 months (unless you have a terminal illness).
- Be aged 65 or over.
- Have no immigration conditions attached to your stay in the UK (subject to some exceptions).
- Satisfy the residence and presence tests.
You may need help with various activities because you have a physical disability or illness, a sensory impairment, a learning disability or a mental health condition. You may have multiple disabilities or conditions.
Note: Someone is classed as terminally ill if they are not expected to live for longer than 6 months.
Residence and presence tests
From 8 April 2013 to satisfy the residence and presence tests you must meet all of the following conditions:
- Have been present in Great Britain for 104 weeks out of the 156 weeks before claiming (two out of the last three years)
- Be habitually resident.
If you are terminally ill you only have to be present in the UK, you do not need to have been present in Great Britain for 104 weeks out of the 156 weeks before claiming.
The habitual residence test is a test to see if you normally live in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Ireland or the Isle of Man. The test will be applied if you have been living abroad. There is no legal definition of ‘habitual residence’. Relevant factors are where you normally live, where you expect to live in future, your reasons for coming to this country, the length of time spent abroad before you came here, and any ties you still have with the country where you have come from.
If you need more information about the habitual residence test contact the Carers UK Advicelineback to top
To satisfy the daytime and night-time tests you have to show that it is reasonable for you to need personal care or for someone to check on you. You do not have to actually receive help with personal care or actually have someone who checks on you.
For the lower rate you must satisfy a daytime test or a night-time test. Special rules apply for some kidney patients undergoing renal dialysis at least 2 times a week.
For the higher rate you must satisfy a daytime test and a night-time test. Alternatively, you will get the highest rate if you are terminally ill.
To satisfy a daytime test you must need one of the following:
- frequent (at least three times) help with personal care throughout the day
- someone to check on you throughout the day to make sure that you are safe
To satisfy a night-time test you must need one of the following:
- help with personal care at least twice a night, or once a night for at least 20 minutes
- someone to check on you at least twice a night, or once a night for at least 20 minutes, to make sure that you are safe
For this benefit, night usually starts just after your household has gone to bed and ends just before your household gets up in the morning.
If no-one is helping you with personal care, you may be accepted as needing help if you have some difficulty coping with your personal care. And if no-one is checking on you, you may still be accepted as needing this if you or another person may be placed in danger without it.
What does 'help with personal care' mean?
Personal care needs include help with things like:
- eating and drinking
- seeing (ie you need someone to see for you)
- using the toilet
- getting into and out of a chair
- bathing and washing
- dressing and undressing
- help with medication and treatment
- getting in and out of bed and sleeping
Here are some examples of the reasons you may need help and the type of help you may need:
- You have arthritis which makes movement difficult. You need somebody to help you with daily activities such as getting in/out of bed, washing and dressing, and getting in/out of chairs.
- You are profoundly deaf and British Sign Language is your first language. You therefore need an interpreter when communicating without sign language, to interpret spoken announcements, and perhaps also to interpret written English.
- You have a mental health problem and you need prompting and encouragement to look after yourself and do things such as take your medication, eat, wash and dress.
- You are blind and you need someone to assist in many situations such as selecting clothes to wear, using cooking appliances safely and preparing food.
- You have a learning disability and need help with many activities including managing money, writing letters and looking after your health and hygiene.
What does 'someone to check on you' mean?
You must need someone to check on you regularly during the day. The checks must be to avoid a 'substantial danger' to yourself or others as result of your disability. You may need such checks if you:
- have memory loss
- are in danger of falling
- have poor awareness of potential dangers
- have serious behavioural problems
- lose consciousness or have seizures
Substantial danger may include situations such as:
- leaving the gas on
- self harm
- violence towards others or serious risk to your health should you be left unsupervised
The potentially dangerous situation does not have to happen frequently, but you must need frequent checks to reduce the chance of harm.back to top
How to claim
England, Wales and Scotland
- by calling the Attendance Allowance at claim line on 0345 605 6055
- from your local Social Security Office or Jobcentre Plus office
- by calling the Disability and Carers Service on 0289 090 6178
- download an application form here
Completing the form
The form is long and complex. Make sure you put all of your difficulties on the form. You may also get independent help from a Citizens Advice Bureau, a disability organisation, a carers' group, or other special interest agencies (eg Age UK branch, local council welfare rights unit).
If you have a terminal illness your claim should include form DS1500 – available from your GP or consultant.
You do not have to complete the part of the main claim form that asks about your personal care or supervision needs.
Claims for people who are terminally ill are processed quickly. A claim for a terminally ill person can be made without that person’s knowledge.
Tips for claiming Attendance Allowance
- Take your time to complete the claim form.
- List all of the help you need before completing the claim form. Talk with your carer and ask them to list all the help they give you. This way, together, you will not miss anything out.
- Remember, what matters is whether you need the help, not whether you are already getting it. Also think about the difficulties you have and what type of help you would need to make things easier.
- If you are not sure about how much help you need, or how long things take, keep a diary for a week or so.
- You do not have to need help every day in order to qualify. The test is “most of the time”. If your needs vary from day to day, make a list of the help you need or the difficulties you have on each day of the week for a week or a month – depending on how much the pattern varies.
- Keep a copy of your form.
You will receive a written decision on your claim that tells you what rates of benefit have been awarded and from what date. Attendance Allowance can be awarded for a fixed period or for an indefinite period. If you are awarded benefit for a fixed period, the decision will tell you when the period ends. A new claim form will be sent to you well before the period of your award ends.
Challenging the decision
If you are refused Attendance Allowance or it is awarded at a lower rate than you expected you can ask the Department for Work and Pensions to look at the decision again. You must do this before you appeal. This is called a mandatory reconsideration.
If you still disagree once they have done this you must lodge an appeal with HM Courts and Tribunals Service and attach a copy of the mandatory reconsideration notice with the appeal.
It is important to challenge a decision or get advice as quickly as possible because there are time limits that generally mean you must take action within one month. If you fall outside of this time limit then it may still be possible to challenge the decision. Contact Carers UK for further information.
Other ways of getting the decision changed
At any time, you can ask for the decision to be changed after the one-month time limit has expired, but only in specified circumstances. The most common of these include where:
- the decision contained an official error
- there has been a relevant change of circumstances since the previous decision
An official error is a mistake made by the Department of Work and Pensions. The error might be losing important paperwork, a 'slip of the pen' or a misinterpretation of the law. If you have lost money because of the error, payment may be backdated to when the decision was made.
The most common relevant change of circumstances is that your health gets better or worse so that you now qualify for a different rate of Attendance Allowance.
If the amount you get goes down, it may do so from the date your circumstances changed. If the amount you get goes up, you are not paid until six months after the change. However, if the change is that you are now terminally ill, the new rate is paid from the date you tell the Department of Work and Pensions of the change.
It is possible that a request to increase your Attendance Allowance can result in it being decreased or stopped altogether. This is why it is so important to fill in your form as well as possible and to seek advice. You may be able to get independent advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau, a disability organisation, a carers' group, or other special interest agencies (e.g. Age UK branch, local council welfare rights unit).
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your request for the decision to be changed for one of the above reasons, you can challenge the decision. Usually, you must do this within one month of the date on the letter telling you the outcome of your request for the decision to be changed.back to top
Change of circumstances
Going into hospital, residential care, or a hospice
Attendance Allowance stops after 28 days in an NHS hospital.
Attendance Allowance stops after 28 days if you are in residential care funded by the Local Authority or NHS Trust.
If you pay for residential care without help from the Local Authority or a NHS Trust, Attendance Allowance continues to be paid in full. Attendance Allowance also continues to be paid if you are in a nursing home and the only help you get with your fees is an amount called the Registered Nursing Care Contribution from the NHS Trust. You can also continue to receive Attendance Allowance if you go into a hospice that is not funded by the NHS.
If the Local Authority is temporarily funding your stay in a care home while you sell your former home, then special rules apply so seek advice.
Any two stays in hospital and residential care separated by 28 days or less are added together when working out when Attendance Allowance should stop.back to top
If you receive Attendance Allowance, you may become entitled to various other types of help. Sometimes the entitlement will depend on you being in receipt of a particular rate of Attendance Allowance.
Successfully applying for Attendance Allowance can make you entitled to an increase in other means-tested benefits or Tax Credits that you are already in receipt of. The benefits and Tax Credits affected are:
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Reduction (or Rate Rebate in Northern Ireland)
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
So, if you have been awarded Attendance Allowance it is always a good idea to check if you are entitled to any means-tested benefits or Tax Credits that you are not currently getting. And, if you already get any of the means-tested benefits or Tax Credits you should notify all of the offices which pay them that you are now getting Attendance Allowance.
Energy efficiency grants
If you or your partner receive(s) Attendance Allowance, you may be able to get a grant to help with home insulation and other heating improvements.
Although Attendance Allowance does not automatically mean you are entitled to a blue badge, you may still qualify for a blue badge if you meet certain conditions. The scheme is run though your local council or trust and you should contact them for further information.
Public transport concessions
If you receive Attendance Allowance you may be able to purchase a Disabled Person’s Railcard which will give you, and a person travelling with you, concessions on many rail journeys.
Some disabled people may qualify for free local bus travel, although this is not directly linked to whether or not you receive Attendance Allowance. Contact your local council or trust for further information.
If you live in Scotland you will receive free bus travel if you receive Attendance Allowance or if you hold a Disabled Person’s Parking Badge (Blue Badge).
Companion Entitlement (Scotland only)
If you need to be accompanied when travelling, you can apply for a National Entitlement Card containing the companion entitlement (C+1) to allow a companion travel free of charge with you for the same journey by bus.
You will qualify for a companion entitlement if you receive Attendance Allowance, if you are registered blind, or if you live in a care or residential home and eligible to receive Attendance Allowance.back to top