Attendance Allowance is a non-means tested benefit for people who have care needs, regardless of whether you receive help for those needs or not. What matters is that you can evidence you have care needs and not that someone actually provides you with the help. It does not cover mobility needs just care ones. Examples of care needs are where there is a need for help with your daily activities such as:
- Getting dressed
- Going to the toilet
- Someone being with you so you don’t hurt yourself
- Help outside of your home
The type of disability or illness you have may range from sight or hearing impairments, fragility or mental health issues such as dementia.
In order to claim Attendance Allowance you must evidence that you needed help with your care needs for at least six months prior to making the claim. The exception is if you’re terminally ill and in this case you are able to claim immediately, (see last section of this factsheet).
To get Attendance Allowance, you must satisfy the following criteria:
- You have required care needs for at least six months
- You are not living in a council care home or in hospital
- You live in the UK (when making a claim for Attendance Allowance) the UK is where you normally live and you have lived in the UK for six months in the last year
There are special rules for certain people who are living in, or have returned from a European Economic Area country. The rules can be complex, so if this applies to you, we recommend that you seek advice from a welfare benefits specialist. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a local advice agency should be able to make a referral or signpost you in the right direction. Alternatively visit: www.turn2us.org.uk as they have a find an adviser tool on their website.
Attendance Allowance rates
Attendance Allowance is paid at two different rates and how much you receive will depend on the level of care needs you have.
- The lower rate of Attendance Allowance is paid at a rate of £58.70 per week. This rate will be awarded if you need frequent care throughout the day or night
- The higher rate of Attendance Allowance is paid at a rate of £87.65 a week. This rate will be awarded if you need frequent care throughout the day and night or if you are terminally ill
There is no restriction on how you spend your Attendance Allowance. It is not necessary to spend it on someone to look after you.
In addition to the rates above, you will also qualify for a Christmas Bonus every year, which is usually £10. The bonus is paid automatically and will not affect any other benefits you might receive.
Impact on other benefits
Attendance Allowance is not means-tested and will therefore not affect your income and savings. Income and savings are not taken into account when deciding if you qualify. In addition your income may increase as you may become entitled to further benefits or an increase to those benefits. You may become entitled to:
- Pension Credit
- Housing benefit
- Council tax reduction
Attendance Allowance is usually ignored as income for working out other benefits. Because you have a disability this increases the entitlement you have which in turn means you may qualify for a benefit listed above when you did not qualify previously.
If either you or your partner receives Attendance Allowance, the Benefit Cap will not affect you in any way, as anyone in receipt of Attendance Allowance will be exempt. The benefit cap limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people are able to receive. Visit our web page 'The Benefit Cap' for more information.
If you start to receive Attendance Allowance, someone looking after you might be able to claim a benefit called Carer's Allowance.
How is Attendance Allowance paid?
Payments will normally go directly into your bank, building society or Post Office account. If you are having difficulty in opening or managing one of these accounts it will be paid by Payment Exception Service.
Attendance Allowance is normally:
- Paid every four weeks
- Paid for a minimum of six months or for longer if you continue to have care needs
- Stopped if you go into hospital (after four weeks).
A claim for Attendance Allowance cannot be backdated. You will be paid from the date of claim providing you return the completed form within the time allocated.The date of your claim will be either;
- The date you telephoned to request a claim form
- The date your claim form is received if you downloaded the form
Change of circumstances
You must report any changes in your circumstances that are likely to affect your entitlement to Attendance Allowance.
How to claim?
To make a claim for Attendance Allowance in England, Scotland or Wales telephone the Attendance Allowance helpline for a claim form:
T: 0800 731 0122
Textphone: 0800 731 0317
Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm
Alternatively you can download an Attendance Allowance claim form from the Gov.UK website visit: https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance/how-to-claim
To make a claim for Attendance allowance in Northern Ireland telephone the Disability and Carers Service for a claim form:
T: 0800 587 0912
T: 0800 012 1574
Alternatively you can download a claim form from the NI Direct website. Visit: www.nidirect.gov.uk/
The claim form comes with accompanying notes explaining how to fill in the form and where to send it. Once received, you may have to have a medical examination although this would not normally happen for this benefit.
Additional documents you may need
You will need to provide your national insurance number but if you do not have a national insurance number, send in the claim form anyway to save any delays. Proof of your identity, such as a birth certificate, passport or driving licence is also likely to be requested.
Special rules for terminal illness
There are special rules if you are terminally ill and you have been told by your doctor that you are expected to die within six months. You will be given help to receive the highest rate of Attendance Allowance straight away.
It will not be necessary to demonstrate that you have had care needs for six months prior to claiming and nor do you need to have been living in the UK for six months in the last year.
You can request a form called DS 1500 from your doctor or healthcare professional and fill in the special rules section of the Attendance Allowance claim form.
The DWP produce a 'Guide to completion' for factual medical reports.
The claim form can be completed on your behalf without your knowledge under the special rules, for example by your partner, relative or friend. However, regardless of who makes the claim on your behalf, the money will be paid directly to you.
Challenging a decision
If you have had your claim for Attendance Allowance refused or you are not happy with the award made you can ask for the decision to be looked at again, and/or appeal.
There is usually a time limit of one month to dispute a decision, so you should seek advice immediately once you have received the decision.