Attendance allowance is available for people aged over 65 years who need help with personal care (washing, dressing or eating) due to an illness or disability.

It is available to people who need to be looked after by day, or who need to have someone staying overnight in case help is needed.

On this page we explain about: 

1. Who is eligible for attendance allowance
2. How much is attendance allowance?
3. How to apply for attendance allowance
4. How to fill in the attendance allowance form
5. 10 top tips for completing the attendance allowance form
6. When attendance allowance might change or stop

Who is eligible for attendance allowance?

Attendance allowance is not means tested and is available to anyone over 65 who meets the eligibility criteria. It is intended for:

  • People who have a physical disability (including a sensory disability, such as blindness), a mental disability (including dementia and learning difficulties), or both.
  • People with a disability severe enough to need help caring for themselves, or need someone to supervise them, for their own or someone else’s safety.

To qualify, your relative must have lived in Great Britain for at least two out of the last three years and be in the country when they claim. There are some exceptions to this. They will also normally have to have met the conditions for six months, although the recently disabled can apply immediately. See this page on the GOV.UK website for more details on eligibility.

How much is attendance allowance?

There are two rates of payment (2016-2017):

  • £55.10 a week for people needing help for only/either day or night.
  • £82.30 a week for people needing help both day and night

Attendance allowance key facts

  • It doesn’t matter if your relative is actually getting any help with care – or what they spend the allowance on. If they qualify as ‘needing help’, they should get the allowance.
  • Claims usually take around 40 days to process and can be backdated to the date that the claim was received. The benefit is paid in the same way as your relative's State Pension or Pension Credit. See 'Applying for attendance allowance' below for more information.
  • There are special rules for people who are terminally ill (See 'Applying for attendance allowance' below for more information.).
  • Your relative could get extra Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction if they get attendance allowance – check with the helpline (see below) or office dealing with the benefit.
  • Receiving attendance allowance won’t affect any other benefits that your relative claims. But be warned that if your relative applies for a local authority funded care home, their attendance allowance will be counted as income when means testing.
  • Attendance allowance should not be affected if your relative is temporarily away from home - for example, if they go into hospital or a care home for less than four weeks; go abroad for less than 13 weeks; or go abroad for less than 26 weeks to get medical treatment.
  • If your relative is awarded attendance allowance, at either rate, and has a carer, that person may be entitled to claim Carer's allowance.

'Do apply for the attendance allowance.' Richard S.'s story

Applying for attendance allowance

You can apply for attendance allowance by filling out the AA1A form compiled by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).
By phone: call the attendance allowance helpline (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm) on 0345 605 6055 to request a claim form. You can also use the 0845 code to call this number. Check with your phone company which code is cheaper for you.
Online: download and print a paper copy of the form here or fill out an interactive copy online here. The interactive form only means that you can fill it in online; once it is completed, it needs to be printed, signed and sent to the address at the foot of the form. See also our advice below for filling in the attendance allowance form.

Terminal illness: special rules

If your relative has a terminal illness, and is not expected to live longer than six months, there are ‘special rules’ to ensure that they can get attendance allowance more quickly than the usual 40 working days to process the claim.

If applying for ‘special rules’, you must include a DS1500 form with the attendance allowance application. These forms can only be given by a GP or consultant. You can apply for attendance allowance on behalf of your relative without their permission. The letter about the money awarded won’t mention ‘special rules’.

How to fill in the attendance allowance form

Some people miss out on attendance allowance because they are put off by the claims process. The form is pretty long – and the answers you give are very important – but our tips should increase your chances of making a successful claim. Despite its reputation of being difficult to fill in, there is lots of guidance on the form and plenty of examples of the sort of information the DWP is looking for.

Before filling in the form

Gather together these pieces of information relating to your relative:

  • Their National Insurance number
  • The name of his or her GP and the surgery's address
  • Details of medication
  • Details of anyone your relative has seen about their illnesses or disabilities in the last 12 months, apart from their GP
  • Their hospital record number (if there is one)
  • Name, address and dates of stay in a hospital, care home or similar place.

Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) it’s a good idea to sit down with your relative to think about your answers. attendance allowance is not based on what illnesses or disabilities someone has, but on how their daily life is affected by their health. Preparation is key.

It’s very important that you give details of everything that your relative struggles with. Think about all the little daily tasks that they might have difficulty with: getting up from the toilet; preparing food; getting dressed; getting around indoors; or taking a bath safely (see checklist below for more tips). Give as much detail as you can in each section, with examples. Don’t worry about repeating yourself. It’s better to say something twice than not at all.

10 top tips for completing the attendance allowance form

1. If you are intending to fill in the online version of the form, you will also need to open the printable claim form (see GOV.UK in helpful organisations) as the notes for filling in the attendance allowance form are provided on this version. The notes can be printed separately if that helps you.

2. Attendance allowance packs are available in large print or braille. Likewise, interpreters can be organised. For help with these matters, call the attendance allowance helpline. If you have speech or hearing difficulties, you can contact the AA Service Centre by textphone on 0845 604 5312.

3. Don't worry about making a mistake on the form. It's OK to cross something out.

4. When completing the form, don’t underestimate your relative’s needs. Be realistic and note the amount of help needed on bad days, as well as on good ones. This is where a diary will come in helpful. Things to think about when completing a claim form include:

  • Washing: does your relative need help getting in and out of the bath or shower, washing their hair, or shaving?
  • Going to the toilet: does your relative need help going to the toilet during the day or night? Do they suffer from incontinence? Might they need help with changing beds?
  • Getting dressed or undressed: does your relative need help with this?
  • Mealtimes: does your relative need any help with eating or drinking? Do they have difficulty operating the oven, opening cans or doing other things in the kitchen?
  • Medical treatment: do they understand which medication to take when? Can they operate medical devices (such as a hearing aid) or safely manage any illnesses (such as diabetes) by themselves?
  • Getting around indoors: does your relative need help navigating stairs, moving from room to room, getting in and out of chairs or bed? Aids and adaptations to list include a hoist, monkey pole or bed-raiser; a commode or raised toilet seat; bath rails, shower seat or a hoist to help bath or shower; a walking stick, walking frame or crutches; special cutlery or a feeding cup to help eat and drink.
  • Communicating: if your relative has poor sight, do they need help reading their post? If they are deaf, do they need help communicating? Can they hear the doorbell?
  • Supervision: is your relative in danger of falling? Do they need someone to watch over them in case they have a seizure or a fall? Are they confused and likely to put themselves in danger if no one is there to monitor them?

5. Give as much detail about your relative as you can in each section, together with examples. Don’t worry about repeating yourself. It’s better to say something twice than not at all. It is also important to describe how another person helps your relative - or could help him or her. That is a key reason to qualify for attendance allowance.

6. Your relative may be asked to give their consent for the DWP to contact their GP, or the people or organisations involved with looking after your relative. This would be to get a clear understanding of their needs. While your relative doesn't have to agree to this, it might result in the benefit not being made available.

7. Towards the end of the form there is the option to include a statement from someone who knows your relative and their needs. It is well worth asking someone to do this as it helps reinforce your relative's case. It could be a friend, another relative or professional person, such as a doctor or nurse. If that person understands the rules of the allowance, even better, as he or she will know what relevant information to include.

8. Your relative must sign the form themselves, in which case ask him or her to read it through before signing. The exceptions to this rule include if you hold a power of attorney (or in Scotland, you are acting as a deputy for them), or there are other reasons why they can't sign, such as a mental-health problem. The form explains what you need to do in these circumstances.

Keep a diary 

It can be a good idea to keep a diary for a few days before completing the form to make sure that you don’t forget any tasks that your relative might need help with.

9. Don't email the completed form as it won't be accepted.

10. Once the application has been received, your relative might also be asked to attend a medical assessment to check their eligibility, which can be at their home if getting to the assessment is difficult. At the assessment, they will need to provide identification, whether this is a passport, birth certificate, full driving licence, life assurance policy or bank statement. If possible, it would be worth attending this meeting yourself, or arranging for another family member or friend to be there. Your relative might put on a good show!

If you want additional help with completing the form, call the attendance allowance helpline (on the number given above) or see other helpful organisations.

When attendance allowance might change or stop

  • If your relative is awarded the lower rate of payment, but their health deteriorates so that help both day and night is needed, contact the attendance allowance helpline to complete a form about how their needs have changed.
  • If your relative goes into an NHS hospital or is fully funded by the NHS in a care home, the allowance stops 28 days after the date of your relative's admission.
  • If your relative is self-funding their stay in a care home, attendance allowance shouldn't be affected.

In any of these circumstances, however, talk to the attendance allowance helpline (on the number given above) to ensure your relative still satisfies the conditions.

More information

  • Paying for care: learn about when a local authority pays for a care home, third-party top-ups and NHS continuing health care.
  • Carer's allowance: if you are caring for someone who receives attendance allowance, you might be eligible for this benefit.

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2016
Next review due: 31 March 2017