What is Attendance Allowance?
Attendance Allowance is a payment available to people aged over 65 who, due to an illness or disability, would benefit from help with washing, dressing or eating, during the day or overnight.
Attendance Allowance eligibility
Attendance Allowance is one of a number of benefits for older people. It isn’t means tested and is available to anyone needing care at home or in a care home, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. It’s intended for:
- people of state pension age who meet the eligibility criteria (the state pension age for women and men is currently 65, increasing to 66 by October 2020).
- 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’re 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
- those who have needed the required level of ‘care and supervision’ for the previous six months before becoming entitled to claim Attendance Allowance (unless claiming under the special rules for the terminally ill). Those six months can include the period before reaching pension age.
You can’t get Attendance Allowance if:
- you already get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance.
- you are under pension age – instead, you would need to claim PIP
- you live in Scotland and have been diagnosed with dementia. In Scotland, the government offers free personal care and nursing care for people with dementia, which means that the person loses the right to Attendance Allowance.
To find out when you’ll qualify for the state pension use the Which? Money State pension age calculator.
How much is Attendance Allowance?
There are two Attendance Allowance rates of payment (2020-21):
£59.70 a week
for people needing help for either day or night.
£89.15 a week
for people needing help both day and night.
The allowance is usually paid every four weeks.
Attendance Allowance doesn’t include additional amounts for mobility problems. Any difficulties a person may have with walking will nevertheless be taken into account when determining their eligibility.
Attendance Allowance video guide
Watch our video for a quick guide to Attendance Allowance rules and rates.
Is Attendance Allowance taxable?
No, it’s non-taxable, which means it doesn’t need to be considered for tax purposes. You won’t need to include any Attendance Allowance payments you’ve received as income in your tax calculations.
Claiming Attendance Allowance: six key facts
If you apply for Attendance Allowance for yourself, there are some key things to keep in mind.
It doesn’t matter if you’re actually getting any help with care or what you spend the allowance on. If you qualify as ‘needing help’, you should get the allowance.
Attendance allowance processing time usually takes around 40 working days to complete, 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 State Pension or Pension Credit.
You could get extra Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or council tax reduction if you get Attendance Allowance – check with the office dealing with the benefit, or the Attendance Allowance helpline using this contact number:
Receiving Attendance Allowance won’t negatively impact on any other benefits you claim. In fact, you may receive more from other benefits due to being eligible for Attendance Allowance. However, if you already have Attendance Allowance and you apply for local authority funded care at home or in a care home, your Attendance Allowance may be counted as income in the financial assessment for residential care or home care.
You must contact the Attendance Allowance helpline under any of these circumstances or if you want to change your name, address or bank details, you want to stop receiving the benefit, or if your doctor’s details change.
If your allowance is temporarily suspended – for example, due to being in hospital or a care home – it can be reinstated once you’re eligible again and you shouldn’t have to make a new claim.
If you’re awarded Attendance Allowance at either rate, and have a carer, they may be entitled to claim Carer’s Allowance.
How to apply for Attendance Allowance
You can apply by filling out the AA1 Attendance Allowance application form compiled by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
You can call the Attendance Allowance helpline to request a form, download it from the gov.uk website or use the interactive online form:
Fill out an interactive AA1 form online:
You will still need to print the completed form to sign and post.
It’s worth noting that this is a long form and will take some time to fill in. The interactive claim form means that you can fill it in online. But once it’s completed, it still needs to be printed, signed and sent to the address at the top of the form.
Terminal illness: special rules
If you’re applying on behalf of someone with a terminal illness who isn’t expected to live longer than six months, there are ‘special rules’ (see below) to ensure that they can get Attendance Allowance sooner than the usual 40 working days it takes to process the claim. Claims made under these rules should be handled within eight working days.
If applying for ‘special rules’, you must include a DS1500 form with the Attendance Allowance application. This form can only be completed by a GP or other healthcare professional, who will then give it to you or send it directly to the DWP.
You can apply for Attendance Allowance under ‘special rules’ on behalf of someone else without their permission. The letter about the money awarded won’t mention ‘special rules’.
How to fill in the claim form
Some people miss out on Attendance Allowance because they’re put off by the claims process. The form is long – and the answers you give are very important – but our top tips for completing the Attendance Allowance form should increase your chances of making a successful claim.
Despite its reputation of being difficult to fill in, there’s lots of guidance on the form and plenty of examples of the information the DWP is looking for. We also provide you with tips for filling in the form.
Attendance Allowance and changing circumstances
If you’re caring for a loved one, circumstances can change quickly, so it’s important to be aware of what can happen with the allowance in specific situations.
If a person you’re caring for:
- has been 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
- 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 the person was admitted
- moves into a nursing home and receives NHS-funded Nursing Care, but is otherwise meeting the rest of the cost of care themselves, Attendance Allowance will continue to be paid
- moves into a hospice that isn’t funded by the NHS, the allowance will continue to be paid
- is in long-term care and meeting costs through a deferred payment agreement, they may lose their Attendance Allowance in the future
- has taken out a 12-week property disregard.
In any of these circumstances, call the Attendance Allowance helpline to ensure the person you’re caring for still satisfies the conditions.
If the allowance is stopped but is due to restart, say for example when a 12-week property disregard comes to an end, it will be worth checking your bank statements or calling the Attendance Allowance helpline to ensure this has automatically happened.
Attendance Allowance shouldn’t be affected if the person you’re caring for 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. However, it's also worth checking that it hasn't inadvertently been stopped.
What happens if you move into a care home?
If you move to a care home, Attendance Allowance will be paid only for the first 28 days unless you are completely self-funding. It will also continue to be paid if you receive NHS-funded Nursing Care, as long as there is no financial support from the local authority.
If your care is being paid for by your local authority, then it is advisable to contact the Attendance Allowance helpline to report a change of circumstance. If you continue to receive it, you might subsequently have to pay it back.
In Scotland, the government offers free personal and nursing care for people living with dementia.
In fact, the income from pensions, NHS-funded Nursing Care and Attendance Allowance pays a good chunk towards total costs. There is money available if you find out how to claim it.
Appealing against a claim decision for Attendance Allowance
If you apply for Attendance Allowance and do not agree with the decision you receive, you may be entitled to appeal against it – this is also known as ‘mandatory reconsideration’. See our article on Appealing against a benefits decision for more advice on how to appeal.
Up-to-date advice and information from Which? to help older people stay safe during the coronavirus crisis.
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Filling out the Attendance Allowance claim form can be tricky. Here are our top tips to help you through the process.