A Guide To Claiming Attendance Allowance
What is attendance allowance?
Attendance Allowance is a tax-free social security benefit intended for people with a long-term illness or a disability. It can be paid in addition to other benefits such as Retirement Pension. Attendance Allowance can be paid to those who require either attention in connection with certain tasks or supervision in order to stay safe.
- Attention means help required from another person in connection with personal care needs. This generally excludes domestic tasks such as shopping, laundry or cleaning your home. Personal care implies care of a close personal nature but is not limited to tasks such as dressing, bathing or help to take medication; help in connection with seeing, hearing or communicating can also be included. Needs for help with any such tasks that would enable to you to maintain normal social and leisure activities can also count.
- Supervision means supervision needed in order to stay safe. If someone should be with you to help prevent or lessen some risk to yourself (or others) then this can count. This may apply where someone is having unpredictable falls or fits or faces some other hazard in their everyday life.
Attendance Allowance can be paid at two different rates:
- The lower rate is for those who need attention or supervision during the day or night.
- The higher rate is for those who need attention or supervision during the day and night.
Who can claim attendance allowance?
Before considering claiming the allowance it is important to note the following additional points:
- To claim you must have needed help for 6 months (but there are special rules for people with a terminal illness to help them get the allowance more quickly and easily),
- You must be aged 65 or over,
- You can get attendance allowance even if no one is actually giving you the care or supervision that you need,
- Attendance allowance is not affected by savings,
- Attendance allowance is not usually affected by other money you have coming in,
- You may not get attendance allowance if you are in hospital or residential care.
Do I qualify for attendance allowance?
The rules for Attendance Allowance can seem complex as entitlement to the allowance can involve looking at the kind of attention required, how often it is needed as well as at the risks which might lead you to require supervision. For the lower rate of the allowance for day time needs, for example, you would have to show that either your attention needs were ‘frequently throughout the day’ or that your required ‘continual supervision’. This means you would have to show that you could benefit from help with attention several times through the course of the day (rather than just in the morning or the evening) or that you could ideally do with someone to supervise you all day. If you are in any doubt then seek advice before claiming.
The following list may help though by giving examples of the kinds of needs or difficulties which could count towards qualifying for the allowance:
- need help with, for example, washing yourself, dressing, getting to or using the toilet, getting into or out of bed, moving about indoors, help with medical treatment, help at mealtimes or something similar,
- need someone there to keep an eye on you, do you have fits, dizzy spells, blackouts, have falls or stumbles, or have problems communicating,
- need someone with you when you go out during the day and / or evening,
- have difficulty concentrating, need someone to remind or motivate you to do things, feel panicky or anxious if you try to do things or have other difficulties due to your mental health,
- have problems when you are in bed, turning over, settling, or staying in bed, being propped up, getting into position to sleep, getting the bedclothes back on if they fall off,
Then you may qualify for the allowance.
How do I claim attendance allowance?
If any of the difficulties mentioned above apply to you, then you may wish to consider making a claim for attendance allowance.
To obtain a claim form, form AA1, Telephone 0800 882200 or you can contact: Disability Benefits Centre, Albert Bridge House, Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 9AF Telephone (0161) 831 2000.
The form will be stamped by the Disability Benefits Centre with the date it must be returned within the stated six weeks to obtain benefit from the date it was requested.
The form itself has two sections:
Section 1 is quite straightforward. This section requests some basic details (such as name, address, phone number, date of birth, National Insurance number, and nationality) as well as a very brief description of your disability or illness, what treatment or medication you receive, and asks for details of who may be contacted about your claim (such as your GP, Consultant, or Nurse). If you are claiming under the special rules you will be prompted to indicate this on this section of the form.
Section 2 is longer as it asks for details of how your illness or disability actually affects you during your day and night, what difficulties you have, and what help you would need to live as normal a life as possible. It is important to note that it is the help that you need rather than the help you necessarily receive that matters. Take your time with completing this section. Perhaps you could keep a diary over a few days and / or makes notes before you complete this section in order to think about how you can best explain your difficulties on the form.
You will need to describe what causes you problems, what you need help with, when you need this help, and what the help consists of. You also need to be clear about when the problems you describe started; the form asks for a date when your care or supervision needs began. Generally the more detail that you can put on the form the better as this will enable whoever is assessing your claim to have a more complete picture of your everyday difficulties.
Please note though that although section 2 gives you the opportunity to give a lot of details of your difficulties it is not essential to complete it. There is an option that you can tick on section 1 to ask for a doctor’s visit instead of completing section 2 if you wish.
The forms should reach the Disability Benefit Centre before or on the date stamped on the form to be in time.
If you have difficulty completing the form or wish to know more about benefits, you can get help from Tameside Council's Customer Services. Telephone 0161 342 8355.
A directory of information and advice providers is available at Civil Legal Advice or you can telephone 0845 345 4345 (Minicom 0845 609 6677)
Important - If you are already claiming Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance and consider that you may qualify for help at a higher rate of the allowance please seek advice before contacting the Department for Work and Pensions about your claim.
Remember that this is a general guide to attendance allowance and not a full authoritative statement of law. We have made every effort to ensure that the information is correct at the date shown at the top of the page.