For anyone aged over the age of 65 whose health impacts their ability to keep themselves safe, they may be eligible for Attendance Allowance (AA).
AA is a benefit that is not means-tested, so income and savings will have no bearing on whether or not a person qualifies. It is also tax-exempt, so there’s no need to declare it as income.
It can be a real help financially, but the forms require some thought and guidance – so here is our Guide to successful completion of the Attendance Allowance Forms. Good luck!
The different rates and the forms you need to complete
There are 2 rates available: a lower rate (currently £57.30 per week) if care/supervision needs are in the day OR night, and a higher rate (currently £85.60 per week) if needs cover the day AND night. A successful claim may also entitle you to additional Pension Credit and even other benefits like Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit.
- To apply for Attendance Allowance, complete the AA1A form for the DWP.
You can ask to have a copy of the form sent to you by calling 0345 605 6055 (Monday to Friday 8:00 to 18:00) or you can go online to either download and print the form, or fill out an interactive online version of it.
If you are suffering from a terminal illness, and are expected to live for 6+ months, there are special rules to ensure you receive your allowance as quickly as possible. To apply for the special rules, you must include a DS1500 form with your main application (this form is provided by a GP or consultant).
With regard to completing the main AA1A form for applying for Attendance Allowance here are our top tips.
- You do not have to be in receipt of care to be eligible for Attendance Allowance. It will ask you to state how you carry out different tasks in your daily life, so you should focus on the difficulties you have.
- Describe the help you NEED, as well as the help you GET. People who live alone may not get any help, but this doesn’t mean those people wouldn’t benefit from help if it were available.
- Explain why you have problems completing specific tasks, and which conditions/disabilities impact that.
- Some tasks may be fine in themselves, but mobility restrictions prevent you from completing them easily. If some tasks are painful or difficult to complete, or if you need to be prompted to do them, include that information on the form.
- Don’t understate or underestimate your needs when completing the form. Be realistic and remember that some days are worse than others.
- The assessor will not be interested in difficulties with tasks like shopping or housework. The claim is based around so-called ‘bodily functions’ like eating, bathing or going to the toilet.
- Don’t worry about repeating certain challenges on different sections of the form – this repetition will help show the extent to which these things affect your life.
- Put as much detail as possible, as this form will be the entire basis of the assessment.
Key facts about Attendance Allowance:
It doesn’t matter whether you currently receive any help or care, or what you spend the allowance on. If you qualify as ‘in need of help’, you get the allowance.
Claims typically take approximately 40 days to process, and payments can be backdated to the date your claim was submitted.
Receipt of Attendance Allowance won’t impact any other benefits. But if you apply to live at a care home funded by your local authority, AA is counted as income during means testing.
If you are temporarily away from home, your AA should not be affected. This includes going into a hospital/care home for less than 4 weeks, going abroad for less than 13 weeks (26 weeks if you go abroad to receive treatment).
If your application for Attendance Allowance is successful, and you have a carer, that person may be entitled to receive Carer’s Allowance.
Information you will need for the form
Before you start, you will need to ensure you have the following information to hand:
- National Insurance number
- GP name and the address of the surgery
- Details of medications
- Details of any medical professionals you’ve seen about existing conditions/disabilities (apart from GP)
- Hospital record number (if applicable)
- Details of any hospitals/care homes/hospices stayed at, including dates of stay
Before you actually begin writing anything down, it’s a good idea to have a think about your answers. Attendance Allowance is not actually based on the conditions or disabilities you have, but on how these things affect your day-to-day life.
Think about all the daily tasks you struggle with, no matter how little. Consider how these things are difficult on particularly bad days, and don’t be afraid to go into as much detail as possible for each section.
So what are the sections of the form?
1. Details of illnesses/disabilities
You will be required to list your conditions on this form, so be sure to include them all. State how long you have had/will have these conditions (you don’t have to be absolutely precise). Any conditions you have had for 6 months or more will be most important, as you need to have had problems for 6+ months to qualify for AA.
Include an up-to-date list of prescriptions to save you having to write all your medications down.
2. Medical professionals (beyond your GP)
Give details of any medical professionals that you have seen in the last 12 months. This includes hospital doctors, district nurses and consultants. If you have seen multiple professionals, you can add their details to the ‘Extra Information’ section later.
It would help to include any correspondence these people have sent you, and sign the consent for the assessor to contact them.
3. Aids and adaptations
If you have any equipment to help you in your daily life, list it here. This includes things like walking sticks, chair risers and grab rails, or even larger items like bath hoists and stair lifts. If using this equipment is difficult for you, be sure to note that down. For example, you could say “my stick helps me keep steady but it is still painful to walk”.
When you fill in the sections you should include the following things:
- What condition causes the difficulty
- What difficulties you have with a specific activity
- The support that you need
- How long it takes to complete the activity
- An example of the difficulty you have
Examples of good answers for the AA form
“Because of my angina, I have to stop and sit on my bed for several minutes to catch my breath and steady myself before I can get up in the morning.
“Due to my arthritis, it is difficult to undress in order to use the toilet. It is also hard to push the flush handle and turn the taps to wash my hands – I always need help with these things.”
“Most days, my depression causes me to lack the motivation to bother with washing unless someone pushes me and checks that I do it.”
“My chronic asthma can cause me to become very breathless, meaning I have to rest in between putting on/removing items of clothing. The whole process can take more than half an hour.”
If you plan to fill in the form online, it is advisable to also open the printable version as this provides all the notes for filling it in. You can have your Attendance Allowance packs in large print or braille, and can also have an interpreter organised.
For help with these things, you can call the Attendance Allowance helpline. If you fill in the paper version of the form, don’t be afraid of making mistakes – it is perfectly acceptable to cross out mistakes and rewrite your answers.
Statement of Support
Towards the end of the form, you are provided with an opportunity to include a statement from someone who is familiar with your daily needs. Asking someone to do this can be really helpful to reinforce your case, whether it’s a friend, a relative or a professional who knows you well, such as a doctor or nurse.
If that person has a good understanding of the what’s important in an application for Attendance Allowance, that will help them to include the most relevant information.
The applicant must sign the form. The only exceptions to this are if someone else holds Power of Attorney, or the applicant has a mental-health problem that prevents them from signing. There is an explanation on the form of what needs to be done in these circumstances.
Once an application has been received, the applicant may be asked to attend a medical assessment. This can be held at the applicant’s home if travelling is a problem. If you are asked to attend one of these, it can help to have someone with you like a relative or friend to ensure everything is clear.