10 December 2019

Could your loved one be entitled to Attendance Allowance?

7 min read

 

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Research suggests that many of those who are entitled to the Attendance Allowance may not be claiming the benefit, which can be worth thousands of pounds a year. 

 

If you know someone who seems to fit the criteria then please feel free to share this information with them. 

There is an application process which can be a bit daunting, but there is specialist help available from organisations such as Citizen’s Advice Bureaux. 

What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance is a weekly social security benefit available to people aged 65 or over who need help with daily living because of disability or serious illness.  The disability can be either physical or mental or both. It is payable at one of two rates depending on how much help you need.

Some of the attractive features of the benefit are:

  • It is not subject to income tax
  • It is not means-tested – you can get Attendance Allowance regardless of your income
  • It does not depend on your record of National Insurance Contributions
  • You can even receive it if you live in a nursing or care home, provided that you are responsible for paying your own way

Who is eligible for Attendance Allowance?

Apart from having to be aged 65 or over, the main test is that you have to have a disability or illness severe enough that you need someone to help look after you.  Note that you do not actually have to be paying someone to care for you in order to qualify.  The care must be in connection with daily living activities such as getting dressed, cooking or bathing, and you have to have needed care for a period of at least six months.

How much would I get?

There are two rates of benefit

a lower rate for those who need frequent help or supervision *either* during the day or during the night, and

a higher rate for those who need frequent help or supervision *both* during the day and at night.

The weekly rates of Attendance Allowance in 2019 are:

Higher rate        
£87.65
Lower rate
£58.70

Receiving Attendance Allowance can also trigger additions to other benefits such as Pension Credit or Housing Benefit.  Special, concessionary rules apply to those who are terminally ill.

How to apply?

Full details on how to claim are on the gov.uk website at: https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance/how-to-claim but the main options are:

To download a claim form via the above link on the gov.uk website;
To phone the Attendance Allowance helpline on 0800 731 0122

Because the form has to cover a wide range of possible situations, it can be a bit long and daunting, but with the right support it can be done.   

The good news is that provided you return the form within six weeks of calling the helpline, your benefit will be backdated to the date when you phoned to request the form.

One important tip is to be thorough in listing the situations in which the person claiming the benefits needs to receive care – many people in this situation feel that they should not ‘make a fuss’ and may play down their needs, but it is important that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have a full and realistic picture of how much care someone actually needs and the situation they would be in without that care.

Could your loved one qualify for Attendance Allowance

Apart from having to be aged 65 or over, the main test is that you have to have a disability or illness severe enough that you need someone to help look after you.  Note that you do not actually have to be paying someone to care for you in order to qualify.  The care must be in connection with daily living activities such as getting dressed, cooking or bathing, and you have to have needed care for a period of at least six months.