What is Attendance Allowance?
Attendance Allowance is a payment available to people over state pension age who would benefit from help with washing, dressing or eating, due to a serious illness or disability.
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 following eligibility criteria:
- They are of state pension age.
- They have a disability severe enough that they need help caring for themselves or need someone to supervise them. This includes physical disabilities (including sensory disabilities such as blindness) and mental disabilities (including dementia).
- They have needed the required level of ‘care and supervision’ for six months before becoming entitled to claim Attendance Allowance (unless claiming under special rules for the terminally ill). Those six months can include the period before reaching pension age.
- It isn’t necessary for the person to be receiving assistance already. As long as they would benefit from such support, they will meet the criteria.
You can’t get Attendance Allowance if:
- you already get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance.
- you are below state pension age – instead, you would need to claim PIP.
Use the Which? Money State pension age calculator to find out when you’ll qualify.
Attendance Allowance video guide
Watch our video for a quick guide to Attendance Allowance rules and eligibility.
How much is Attendance Allowance?
There are two Attendance Allowance rates of payment (2020-21):
£59.70 a week
for people needing help either day or night
£89.15 a week
for people needing help both day and night
Attendance Allowance doesn’t include any additional payments for mobility problems. But any difficulties you may have with walking will be taken into account when determining your eligibility.
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, here 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.
It usually takes around 40 working days to process an application, but payment can be backdated to the date that the claim form was received or the date you called 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.
Receiving Attendance Allowance won’t negatively impact on any other benefits you claim. In fact, other benefits might increase because you’re eligible for Attendance Allowance – this includes Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or council tax reduction.
Check with the office dealing with the benefit, or call the Attendance Allowance helpline. You should also contact the helpline if you want to change your contact information or bank details.
If you are receiving Attendance Allowance and you apply for local authority funded care at home or in a care home, your Attendance Allowance will be counted as income in the financial assessment for residential care or home care.
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 and you have a regular carer, they may be entitled to claim Carer’s Allowance.
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.
How to apply for Attendance Allowance
You can apply by filling out the AA1 Attendance Allowance application form provided 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.
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’ to ensure that they can get Attendance Allowance sooner than the usual 40 working days it takes to process a 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 must be completed by a GP or other healthcare professional.
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
The Attendance Allowance form is long and it’s important that you answer the questions correctly. Some people miss out on the benefit because they’re put off by the claims process.
Our tips for completing the Attendance Allowance form should increase your chances of making a successful claim.
Circumstances can change quickly, so it’s important to be aware of what can happen with Attendance Allowance in specific situations.
- If you’ve been awarded the lower rate of payment, but your condition deteriorates and you would benefit from additional help, contact the Attendance Allowance helpline and they’ll send you a form to record how your needs have changed.
- If you go into an NHS hospital or move into a care home and get funding from the NHS or your local authority, the allowance will stop after 28 days (more about this below).
- If you move into a nursing home and receive NHS-funded Nursing Care, you can still get Attendance Allowance if you pay for the rest of fees yourself.
- If you move into a hospice that isn’t funded by the NHS, the allowance will continue to be paid.
- If you enter into a deferred payment agreement to meet the costs of a care home, the allowance may be stopped.
- If you take out a 12-week property disregard, Attendance Allowance payments will stop after 28 days, but they can be resumed once the 12-week disregard has ended.
In any of these circumstances, call the Attendance Allowance helpline to check your eligibility.
Attendance Allowance shouldn’t be affected if you’re temporarily away from home. For example, if you 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.
What happens to Attendance Allowance if you move into a care home?
If you move into a care home, you can keep getting Attendance Allowance if you’re completely self-funding. But if you get any local authority funding, the allowance will stop after 28 days. The allowance will also stop if you receive NHS Continuing Healthcare, but it will continue to be paid if you get NHS-funded Nursing Care and no other financial support from the state.
If your care is being funded by your local authority, then it’s advisable to contact the Attendance Allowance helpline to report a change of circumstance. If you continue to receive the allowance, you might subsequently have to pay some of it back.
In Scotland, Attendance Allowance will normally stop if you move into a care home – even if you are self-funding. However, you may well be entitled to free personal care and, potentially, free nursing care. You can also receive free personal and nursing care at home and still get Attendance Allowance in Scotland.
Read more about how moving into a care home affects your pension and benefits.
Appealing against a claim decision for Attendance Allowance
If you apply for Attendance Allowance and do not agree with the decision, you may be entitled to appeal against it – this is known as ‘mandatory reconsideration’.
See our article on Appealing against a benefits decision for more advice on how to appeal.
Filling out the Attendance Allowance claim form can be tricky. Here are our top tips to help you through the process.
Read about the benefits available in later life: Attendance Allowance, PIP, Winter Fuel Payment and more.
Up-to-date advice and information from Which? to help older people stay safe during the coronavirus crisis.