What is Attendance Allowance?
Attendance Allowance is a payment available to people who are over the state pension age and need significant 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 it’s available to anyone needing care at home or in a care home, as long as they meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You're of state pension age
- You have a disability severe enough that you need help caring for yourself or need someone to supervise you. This includes physical disabilities (including sensory disabilities such as blindness) and mental disabilities (including dementia).
- You 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 you to be receiving assistance already. As long as you would benefit from such support, you will meet the criteria.
You can’t get Attendance Allowance if:
- You already get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance.
- You're below state pension age – instead, you would need to claim PIP.
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 payment rates (2021-22):
£60 a week
for people needing help either day or night
£89.60 a week
for people needing help both day and night
You will also receive a £10 Christmas Bonus in December.
Attendance Allowance doesn’t include additional payments for mobility problems, but any difficulties you may have with walking will be taken into account when determining your eligibility.
Claiming Attendance Allowance: key facts
Here are some key points to keep in mind if you apply for Attendance Allowance.
- 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.
- Attendance Allowance is non-taxable. Any payments you receive won’t be treated as income for tax purposes.
- If you're 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.
- Attendance Allowance payments will stop (after 28 days) if you get local authority care funding (more on this below).
- If you’re awarded Attendance Allowance and you have a regular 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.
- Download the claim form and print a paper copy to send by post.
- Or, fill out an interactive AA1 form online (you will still need to print the completed form to sign and post).
You can call the Attendance Allowance helpline to request a claim form or to get help and information: 0800 731 0122.
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.
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. 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 application. This must be completed by a GP or another healthcare professional.
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.
What to collect before filling in the form
Gather together the following information for the person who is applying:
- National Insurance number
- GP name and the surgery’s address
- Details of medication
- Details of anyone consulted about illness or disability in the past 12 months, apart from a GP
- Hospital record number (if there is one)
- Name, address and dates of stay in a hospital, care home or similar place.
What to think about in advance
Attendance Allowance is not based on what illnesses or disabilities you have, but on how your daily life is affected by your health. To make sure you capture everything that could support your application, spend some time in advance thinking about your needs and circumstances. Keep a diary or make notes and discuss this with a family member or carer, if possible.
It’s important that you give details of everything that you struggle with. Think about the following aspects of day-to-day living:
- Washing Do you need help getting into and out of the bath or shower, washing your hair or shaving?
- Going to the toilet Do you need help going to the toilet during the day or night? Do you suffer from incontinence? Might you need help with changing beds?
- Getting dressed or undressed Do you need help with this?
- Mealtimes Do you need any help with eating or drinking? Do you have difficulty operating the oven, opening cans or doing other things in the kitchen?
- Medical treatment Do you understand which medication to take and when? Can you operate medical devices (such as a hearing aid) or safely manage any illnesses (such as diabetes) by yourself?
- Getting around indoors Do you need help navigating stairs, moving from room to room, getting in and out of chairs or bed?
- Aids and adaptations Make a list of any aids or adaptations you use, and explain why and when you use them. This could include using a hoist, bed-raiser or monkey pole; a commode or raised toilet seat; bath rails, a shower seat or a bath hoist; a walking stick, walking frame or crutches; special cutlery or a feeding cup to help with eating and drinking.
- Communicating If you have poor eyesight, do you need help reading your post? If you’re deaf, do you need help communicating? Can you hear the doorbell?
- Supervision Are you in danger of falling? Do you need someone to watch over you in case you have a seizure or a fall? Do you become confused easily and do you feel you might be in danger if no one is there to support you?
Top tips for filling in the Attendance Allowance form
Our tips will help you navigate the claim form and give you the best chance of a successful application. The form itself also comes with some useful guidance notes and examples of the types of things you should include.
If you fill in the printable AA1 claim form, it’s a good idea to also open the interactive online version of the form, as guidance notes are provided with that version. The notes can be printed separately if that helps.
Attendance Allowance packs are available in large print or braille. Interpreters can also be organised. For help with this, call the Attendance Allowance helpline (0800 731 0122). If you have speech or hearing difficulties, contact the Disability Service Centre.
When completing the form, don’t underestimate your needs. Be realistic about the amount of help needed on bad days, as well as good ones.
Give as much detail as you can in each section, together with examples. Don’t worry about repeating yourself. It’s also important to describe how another person helps you – or could help you. This is a key reason to qualify for Attendance Allowance.
Don’t worry about making a mistake on the form. It’s OK to cross something out.
You or your loved one may be asked to give your consent for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to contact your GP or other people involved with looking after you. This would be to get a clear understanding of your needs. While you don’t have to agree to this, it might weaken your chances of getting the benefit if you don’t.
Towards the end of the form there’s the option to include a statement from someone who knows you and your needs. It’s worth asking someone to do this as it helps reinforce your case. It could be a friend, relative or a professional, such as a doctor or nurse.
You must sign the form yourself, so if someone has been helping you to fill in the form, you should read it through before signing. The exceptions to this rule include if the person filling in the form holds a Power of Attorney for you, or there are other reasons you can’t sign, such as a mental health problem. The form explains what needs to be done in these circumstances.
Don’t email the completed form as it won’t be accepted, you’ll need to post it.
Once the application has been received, you might be asked to attend a medical assessment to check your eligibility. This can be at your home if getting to the assessment is difficult for you. If possible, take someone who cares for you to the meeting in case anything isn’t clear.
Circumstances can change quickly. It’s important to be aware of how certain circumstances can affect your eligibility for Attendance Allowance.
- 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 it will 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 the rest of the fees yourself.
- 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.
- If you move into a non-NHS hospice, the allowance will continue to be paid.
- 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 or go abroad for less than 13 weeks (or less than 26 weeks if it's to get medical treatment).
In any of these circumstances, call the Attendance Allowance helpline to check if your eligibility is affected.
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're self-funding. However, you may 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.