Attendance allowance is financial aid given to those of pension age who need care assistance due to a severe mental or physical disability, which 1,517,000 people in the UK benefit from. This payment is different from a carer’s allowance, as the money is yours to do what you like with, rather than going straight into a single chosen carer’s pocket who might be unable to help you with everything you need.
These needs can be anything from help with regular daily necessities such as personal care, and other care needs such as making sure you don’t hurt yourself in any way and having a carer accompany you to wherever you need to go. This can be especially beneficial to older people.
Having the extra money as an option to pay someone to help will be important for a sense of independence.
It is no secret that money can significantly impact our lives. Those who don't face money difficulties can easily take for granted the extra financial support that can make all the difference. Especially now, many are facing a cost of living crisis.
Get vitamins and medication delivered to your door!
How do you know if you are eligible for Attendance Allowance?
Before claiming Attendance Allowance, you must meet strict criteria, as with every government financial aid.
There are three main elements, and you must cover them all:
- You have reached the state pension age.
- You need supervision or care because of a physical or mental disability, mental health issue, or illness.
- You have already needed care and supervision for six months.
It is worth knowing that attendance allowance is not means tested, so anyone eligible can receive this benefit without it being affected by any savings or what you earn if you are working.That said, if you are on Personal Independent Payment (PIP), you cannot apply. If you have Disability Living Allowance (DLA), you may be able to apply for Attendance Allowance, but your DLA will be adjusted.
You should also be aware that you don’t need to be officially diagnosed with anything to apply for Attendance Allowance. As many of us know, appointments, waiting times, and tests can take considerable periods of time, during which you could benefit from support.
As long as you have needed help or supervision for over six months because of a mental or physical condition, you can go ahead and apply.
What is the application process for Attendance Allowance?
Applying for Attendance Allowance is pretty simple as long as you have everything you need to get started.
Fill out an application form, which you can do via post or phone. This claim form, AA1, can be found here.
Please note - You can claim in England, Wales, and Scotland, and there are special rules for Northern Ireland. Nidirect states this is a tax-free benefit.
Completing the form over the phone is recommended, as you can troubleshoot as you go if you are unsure of any answers or have difficulties.
Helpful tip: There is a service called textphone option Relay UK for those who might have trouble speaking or hearing on the phone – you can use this service to message instead. Deaf customers can use a British sign language service offered over a webcam.
All you need to do then is send that application form off to DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) and wait for a response. You don’t need a postcode or a stamp. Waiting times vary, and if you are concerned that your form got lost in the post or would like to check on its progress, there is an Attendance Allowance helpline you can call. However, if you are terminally ill, expect a quicker turnaround time.
Someone with a terminal illness applies for attendance allowance in the same way – however, they face a much speedier application process due to the nature of the illness. For more information on applying for Attendance Allowance if you have a terminal illness, click here.
Can you apply for someone else?
If you are here because you are looking to apply for Attendance Allowance for someone else, the good news is that you can.
If someone has a health condition that means they are unable to fill in a form or have diminished mental capacity, someone must be allowed to advocate for them on their behalf.
However – they do need to be able to sign it themselves. If they are not able to, you will need to have the legal right to do it yourself. You will need to be a power of attorney, an appointee, or a deputy. If you are not recognised as any of these options, you must take the necessary steps to be able to sign the attendance allowance form on someone’s behalf legally. Do this as soon as possible, as it will most likely delay the claim.
What does an attendance allowance form entail?
Filling out forms can be pretty heavy-duty, especially if you are already unwell. If you cannot find someone to fill out the form for you, DWP may be able to help.
A couple of bits of information are worth having on hand to make your life a little easier while applying:
- Your National Insurance number.
- Your GP's or doctor’s details.
- A list of any medication you take.
- A written comprehensive understanding of the struggles you face daily.
It can be worth writing a journal of sorts so you can get down on paper what you experience and how it impacts your life. This is a great aid when recounting your days, as you don’t want to undermine your experiences by misremembering, and it can help you paint a complete and accurate picture to ensure your application doesn’t get incorrectly rejected.
Citizens Advice provides a free, detailed template here.
In order to receive your desired outcome, it's crucial to understand what the DWP is seeking and provide them with clear and concise information when filling out the form.
Make sure you include:
- What difficulties you have, or how much help you need.
- How often you have difficulties or need help.
- What sort of help you need.
This will give the DWP a clear picture of why you are applying for Attendance Allowance and how you can benefit from it.
If you need extra help, Age UK has some great resources.
You can find other information on eligibility, entitlement, pension credit, disability benefits, council tax reduction, council tax support, disability and carers service, housing benefit, and means-tested benefits on the HMRC website.
So what exactly is attendance allowance?
Attendance Allowance can be an excellent benefit for those who need help because of a mental or physical disability which means you require comprehensive assistance.
The support payment is not based on means-testing, which means that your current financial situation will not be taken into consideration when a decision is made. However, this may change if you are also receiving Disability Living Allowance.
You, or someone else on your behalf, can apply for this attendance allowance so you can get the monetary support you need.
Claiming is a simple process done through an attendance allowance claim form which can be found online.
It is important to be thorough with your experiences so that the DWP can assess your situation with a detailed and accurate picture in mind.
Attendance allowance can provide some extra money to those who need it most to help them live a similar quality of life to their peers and remain independent for as long as possible. This can make a significant difference to mental health and physical capabilities and is an important benefit to be available.