Although the Attendance Allowance has existed in the UK since December 1971, lots of people are unaware that they can apply for it. It was introduced by the government as a type of benefit to help people who need personal care due to a mental or physical disability.
What is Attendance Allowance?
The Attendance Allowance is extra money that can be used to help someone stay independent in their own home for longer.
It is available for people who are aged 65 and over and have a physical or mental disability, or an illness, that means extra help is needed to cope. It’s not necessary to already be having help to be eligible. There are no restrictions on how the money should be spent, and it can be used as desired.
Who is eligible to apply for Attendance Allowance?
Attendance Allowance is not means tested, so applicants are assessed on funds available. Eligibility to receive the Attendance Allowance benefit is based on the level of need.
Eligibility to receive Attendance Allowance is based on the following;
- Aged 65 years of age, or older
- Have a mental or physical disability (or both), or are terminally ill
- Help or assistance is needed to ensure personal safety or that of others.
- Has been in need of help for the last 6 months or more, though someone who is terminally ill can claim right away.
Applicants must be in Great Britain when making the application (unless they are a member of the armed forces) and should have lived in Great Britain for at least 2 of the last 3 years.
Whilst claiming Attendance Allowance does not affect your pension, and you can claim even if you are still working and earning money, it is not compatible with some benefits. Already being in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), means a person cannot get the Attendance Allowance.
The Attendance Allowance Claim Form asks applicants to demonstrate that they are habitually resident in the country. Even though the term ‘habitual residence’ doesn’t have an exact legal definition, it is intended to find out which country is the one normally lived in, how long is the stay in each country, and why.People who are subject to immigration control (the term used when someone needs a visa to enter and remain in the UK) are usually not eligible to apply. There are some exceptions to this, for example if refugee status has been granted.
How much money is given with Attendance Allowance?
There are two different rates of Attendance Allowance. The information provided in the claim is used to decide which rate should be given.
Lower rate 2019/20 – £58.70 a week if help is needed either in the day or at night
Higher rate – £87.65 a week if help is needed both in the day and at night, or for a terminal illness.
The Attendance Allowance rates apply from April 2018 to April 2019, and the money is paid every four weeks. It is usually paid straight into a bank account. Claims may be backdated to the date on which the application was received, or when advice was first given by the helpline.
Applying for Attendance Allowance
The application form to receive Attendance Allowance is called Claim Form AA1A. This can be downloaded from www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance.
There is also an Attendance Allowance Helpline which is open Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm 0345 605 6055
An application can be made on behalf of someone else, for example a parent or relative, if they are eligible and will struggle to do so themselves. However, unless Power of Attorney has been given, the person named in the form must sign it for themselves and agree with its contents.
Filling in the Attendance Allowance Claim Form
Attendance Allowance is not means tested and instead the application is assessed based on the level of support that is needed. The application process is a chance to explain what those needs are, and their severity. It is useful to explain what impact the illness or condition has on daily life and how this demonstrates eligibility to receive extra support.
It can be easy to overlook the sorts of things that should be mentioned in a claim, especially if other ways to cope have been found. Try to provide as much information as possible, for example if mobility issues make it dangerous to cook. To help remember everything, it might be useful to think about daily activities and make a list of what they are and their frequency, especially if help is needed to carry them out.
Use the form to explain the nature of the illness or condition in as much detail as possible. Try to provide examples of how they affect daily living, such as needing help to wash. Where possible, include details of specific incidents relating to illness, for example an accident or a fall.
What evidence is required when applying for Attendance Allowance?
When making an application for Attendance Allowance, try to gather as much evidence as possible to support the claims made in the form. Examples of the sorts of evidence that might be used could include:
- Letters from a GP and/or other medical professionals, or from a carer
- Details of prescriptions
- Information about the condition and its effects
- An existing or proposed care plan
- Details of hospital visits and stays which have taken place within the last 12 months because of the condition
- The details of everyone who has been seen about the condition within the last 12 months, including contact details if possible
Providing this information helps the claim to be assessed accurately, and for the correct rate to be given. Because the Attendance Allowance is not means tested, there is no need to include information about any income or savings. The evidence supplied with the claim can come from any source, and relate to very specific areas of need, or in more general terms.
How to send an Attendance Allowance Claim Form
An Attendance Allowance Claim Form can be submitted online with the supporting evidence posted separately, or everything can be posted together at once.
The address to send a postal application and/or supporting evidence to is:
Attendance Allowance Unit
Mail Handling Site A
If possible, take copies of all of the documents before sending it. This can be useful if the assessors come back with questions about the application, or if it is lost.
What will happen next?
It can take a few weeks for the application to be assessed and for a decision to be made. During the consideration process, there might be a request for an assessment to take place. This is fairly common, and is just a way to find out more information regarding the claim. Making a list of things to mention to the doctor might be useful. There will be instructions about where to go and when, for the assessment. Once the decision is made, a notification letter will be sent in the post.
Terminal Illnesses and the Attendance Application
It might be difficult to think about, but there are special rules for people who claim Attendance Allowance and have a terminal illness which means they likely have less than 6 months to live.
The claims process is quicker for people applying in these circumstances, and an application should be considered within 8 days. Applications made under these conditions will need to include an additional form, called a DS1500, which must be filled out by a GP or consultant. In these cases, there is no need to demonstrate that the condition or illness has been experienced for 6 months or more.
Can a decision made about an Attendance Application claim be appealed?
Yes, it is possible to appeal. The decision will be sent by post, and the letter will include information about the appeals process. Usually more information will be required, for example a letter from a GP explaining in detail about the condition and why extra help is needed.
Changes of Circumstances and Attendance Allowance
If someone is receiving Attendance Allowance, or if an application has been made and a decision is pending, any change of circumstance should be reported to the Attendance Allowance helpline. The helpline is open Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm and the telephone number is 0345 605 6055
It is important to report a change because it might affect which rate of Attendance Allowance is given, or overall eligibility. A change in circumstances might be because the person receiving the benefit:
- might need a different level of help, or the nature of the condition changes
- goes into hospital or a care home
- goes abroad for more than 13 weeks
- changes their name, address or bank details
- wants to stop receiving the benefit
- the doctor’s details change
- is imprisoned or held in detention
If a change is not reported and this results in an overpayment, there may be a £50 civil penalty and any overpaid benefits will need to be repaid.
Other sources of information
Attendance Allowance Contact Number – Helpline
Telephone: 0345 605 6055
Textphone: 0345 604 5312
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Citizens Advice https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/attendance-allowance/
Disability Rights UK https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/attendance-allowance-aa