Attendance Allowance (AA) is a benefit for older people who may need extra help to stay independent at home due to an illness or disability.
There are two weekly rates:
• £61.85 (lower rate) if you need help either in the day or at night
• £92.40 (higher rate) if you need help both in the day and at night
These rates don’t depend on your income or savings, or any other benefits you may be receiving – just on the help you need. You don’t have to actually be receiving the help to claim AA, and you can use it in any way you like to stay independent in your own home – it doesn’t have to be spent on a carer. If you’re entitled to AA, you may also be paid extra money with Pension Credit and Housing Benefit.
Can I claim it?
You can claim AA if all of the following apply to you:
- You’re over State Pension age (if you’re under State Pension age then you may be able to claim a different benefit called Personal Independence Payment
- You have any type of disability, illness or long-term health condition, including sight or hearing impairments.
- You could benefit from help with personal care, like dressing and washing, or any supervision to keep you safe.
- You have needed help for six months (if you’re terminally ill, you can claim straight away).
If you’re already claiming Personal Independence Payment, you’ll continue to receive it after your 65th birthday, or when you reach State Pension age, provided you continue to meet the qualifying conditions.
Tips on applying for Attendance Allowance
Most decisions about AA claims are based solely on what you say in the claim form, so don’t downplay your needs. Think about all the things you can’t do, or have trouble with, because of your condition. Here are some other tips for filling in the form:
- Give plenty of information in your own words about your personal circumstances. It’s OK to repeat yourself.
- List things that you struggle to do without help, even if you’ve developed ways to cope. Mention if an activity takes you much longer than it would take somebody without a disability, or if it’s difficult to do it safely.
- Focus on how often you need help. To qualify for the lower rate of AA, you have to show you need help ‘frequently’ during the day or at night.
- Describe any accidents, falls or when you’ve hurt yourself.
- If you have good and bad days, give details of one of the bad days, including how often they happen.
- Attach any supporting information, like GP letters, your care plan, or prescription lists.
- Bear in mind that AA doesn’t usually take into account problems with housework, cooking, shopping and gardening
Our Advisers can help you fill in your application for Attendance Allowance, which might increase your chances of claiming successfully. Contact Age NI's Advice and Advocacy Service for help.
What if the application is turned down?
If your application is turned down, call the Age NI Advice and Advocacy Service to ask whether you should challenge the decision. Look at all the common care needs below - did you miss any out?
Remember that your needs may change and increase, so even if you are not eligible for Attendance Allowance now, you may be able to claim successfully in the future.
Common care needs to include
Here are a few examples of what to consider when explaining your care needs.
Washing, bathing and looking after your appearance
Do you need help getting in and out of the bath or shower; adjusting shower controls; shaving, putting on make-up; washing or drying your hair?
Going to the toilet
Do you need help adjusting your clothes after using the toilet; using the toilet during the night; changing clothes or bedding if you have an accident?
Getting dressed or undressed
Do you need help with fastenings, shoelaces and buttons or to recognise if your clothes are on correctly?
Do you need help or encouragement to plan and prepare a meal; can you peel and chop vegetables and use the cooker; do you need help eating and drinking?
Help with medical treatment
Do you need help to identify your tablets; to read and understand instructions about taking medication; to manage a condition like diabetes; to recognise if your condition deteriorates; to adjust your hearing aid?
Getting around indoors
Do you need help to navigate stairs; to get up from a chair; to get in and out of bed; to move safely from room to room?
Do you need help to understand or hear people, or to be understood by them; to answer the phone; to read and write letters?
Do you need someone to watch over you in case you have a seizure or fall; to give you medication for angina or asthma attacks; to help calm you down during a panic attack?
Download the forms
Visit the nidirect website to download an Attendance Allowance claim form
Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.