Sam, 84, worked on the railways at Crewe until he was 65 years old, starting as a cleaner and rising through the ranks to become a driver. He continued working full time until he was 75 years old.
Now with health problems and limited mobility, Sam receives extra money to live more independently.
'I had never heard of Attendance Allowance until I went to a meeting at Age UK Cheshire’s Northwich Men in Sheds. I happened to say to the lady giving the talk on benefits, “well, I wouldn’t get anything”, but she disagreed and within a fortnight she sent a gentleman round with the Attendance Allowance form.
‘The difference it made having someone like that gentleman from Age UK – if I had done it on my own, I might only have got the lower rate. If I had known about Attendance Allowance, I could have been getting it since 2006.
‘I had a pension off the railway, so I thought I was getting too much to be eligible. I can’t say enough good things about Age UK doing this. I feel that some of the things I want to do, I can now do. Before, I could manage, but I had nothing extra.
‘I couldn’t travel but this money has helped me now. For example, if my son can’t take me out I have got money and get a taxi or use my mobility scooter.’
How the NHS could help more people like Sam
If Sam had got the Attendance Allowance to which he was entitled as soon as his disability began to impact on his life, he could have enjoyed life so much more.
Health professionals, like GPs, nurses and occupational therapists, should take steps to establish links with independent advice agencies that work with older people. This will ensure older people receive their entitlements. They should also develop local referral systems so they can direct older people to nearby, face-to-face and/or telephone advice and support.
For frail older people, particularly those with limited mobility, practical support to claim benefits and home visits should always be on offer. Extra funding is needed to pay for services to ‘reach out’ to these older people who need them the most.
Age UK wants to see a world where no older person is trapped in the day-to-date grind of living in poverty. Support our End Pensioner Poverty campaign.