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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's available to people who it's considered would benefit from being looked after during the day or being supervised overnight.

On this page, we explain: 

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. Top 10 tips for completing the attendance allowance form
6. Attendance allowance and changing circumstances.

Who is eligible for attendance allowance?

Attendance allowance is not means tested and is available to anyone over 65 years of age who meets the eligibility criteria. 

Attendance allowance is one of a number of benefits for older people, 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. It isn't necessary for the person to be receiving any assistance or supervision. As long as they are considered to be in a position where they would benefit from such support, they will meet this criteria.
  • 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.

It's available to anyone needing care at home or in a care home as long as that person is self-funding or partly funding their care jointly with a local authority or the NHS.

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. For example, if they have been living in a European Economic Area (EEA) country during the last three years, but are now living in Great Britain, they will still qualify. They will also normally have to have met the conditions for six months, although the recently disabled can apply immediately.

If you're thinking about choosing a care home or care at home, see our Care services directory, which you can search by postcode across the UK.

How much is attendance allowance?

There are two rates of payment (2017-18):

  • £55.65 a week for people needing help for only/either day or night.
  • £83.10 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 working days to process, but payment can be backdated to the date that the claim form was received or the date you call the enquiry line (if you return the claim pack within six weeks). The benefit is paid in the same way as your relative's state pension or pension credit.
  • There are special rules for people who are terminally ill (see 'Applying for attendance allowance' below for more information).
  • Attendance allowance doesn't pay any additional amounts for mobility problems, although any difficulties your relative may have with walking will be taken into account when determining their eligibility. Attendance allowance is for applicants over 65 and Personal independence payment (PIP) is for those applying under the age of 65 years. You can't claim both. If your relative has mobility problems and is under 65, they should claim for PIP as soon as possible, as after the age of 65 they will have to apply for attendance allowance, which doesn't include a mobility component so therefore they will get less money.
  • Your relative could get extra pension credit, housing benefit or council tax reduction if they get attendance allowance – check with the helpline (see 'Applying for attendance allowance' below) or office dealing with the benefit.
  • Receiving attendance allowance won’t negatively impact on any other benefits that your relative claims. In fact, they may receive more from other benefits due to them being eligible for attendance allowance. However, if your relative already has attendance allowance and applies for local authority funded care at home or in a care home, their attendance allowance may 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.
  • Your relative must contact the attendance allowance helpline (see 'Applying for attendance allowance' below) under any of these circumstances or if they want to change their name, address or bank details; if they want to stop receiving the benefit, or if their doctor’s details change. If their attendance allowance is temporarily suspended – for example, due to being in hospital or a care home – it can be reinstated once your relative is eligible again and they shouldn’t have to make a new claim.
  • If your relative is awarded attendance allowance, at either rate, and has a carer, that person may be entitled to claim Carer's allowance.

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, though you may be charged more for the call. 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. It's worth noting that this is a long form and will take some time to fill in. The interactive form only means that you can fill it in online; once it's completed, it needs to be printed, signed and sent to the address at the top 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’ (see below) to ensure that they can get attendance allowance more quickly than the usual 40 working days to process the claim. Claims made under these rules should be handled within 8 working days.

If applying for ‘special rules’, you must include a DS1500 form with the attendance allowance application. These forms can only be completed by a GP or consultant. You can apply for attendance allowance under 'special rules' 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're 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 their 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 apply online, 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 'Top 10 tips' 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.

Top 10 tips for completing the attendance allowance form

1. If you're 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 attendance allowance Service Centre by calling 0345 605 6055 or 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. It can be a good idea to keep a diary for a few days before completing the form, so you don’t forget any tasks that your relative might need help with. 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, bed- raiser or monkey pole (an under-bed, overhead support pole to help someone lift themselves into a sitting position); 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 with eating and drinking.
  • Communicating: if your relative has poor eyesight, 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's also important to describe how another person helps your relative - or could help them. 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's worth asking someone to do this as it helps reinforce your relative's case. It could be a friend, another relative or a professional person, such as a doctor or nurse. If that person understands the rules of the allowance, it will be even better, as they will know what relevant information to include.

8. Your relative must sign the form themselves. You should therefore ask them to read it through before signing. The exceptions to this rule include if you hold a Power of Attorney, have an appointeeship or deputy powers for your relative, or there are other reasons why your relative can't sign, such as a mental-health problem. The form explains what you need to do in these circumstances.

9. Don't email the completed form as it won't be accepted. You will need to post it.

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, which could be 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.

If you want additional help with completing the form, call the attendance allowance helpline on 0345 605 6055 or see other helpful organisations.

Attendance allowance and changing circumstances

  • 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 and they will send you a form to complete about how their needs have changed.
  • If your relative goes into an NHS hospital, or is fully funded by the NHS or a local authority in a care home, the allowance stops 28 days after the date of your relative's admission.
  • If your relative moves into a nursing home and receives NHS-funded nursing care, but is otherwise meeting the full cost of care themselves, attendance allowance will continue to be paid. It will also continue to be paid if your relative moves into a hospice that isn’t funded by the NHS.
  • If your relative is in long-term care and meeting costs through a deferred payment agreement they may lose their attendance allowance in the future – contact the DWP website for further advice.

In any of these circumstances, however, talk to the attendance allowance helpline on 0345 605 6055 to ensure your relative still satisfies the conditions.

Which? guide to helping loved ones in later life

If you are looking for ways to help a relative stay living at home for longer, or need to find out about the different care options available, this downloadable guide explains your choices and how to find out more. It offers an introduction to choosing sheltered or residential care, plus advice on choosing the best products to aid independent living.

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're caring for someone who receives attendance allowance, you might be eligible for this benefit.

Page last reviewed: April 2017
Next review due: April 2018