What is it ?
Attendance allowance is a state benefit for people who are over pension age and who have care needs. It is tax free and is NOT means tested.
Your parent doesn’t actually have to be getting any help to get Attendance Allowance - the important thing is that they need it and that they explain why they need it on the form.
Attendance allowance is normally paid when someone has needed help for 6 months. The rules are different if the “special rules” are being applied.
There are two rates of payment:
- The lower rate is £59.70 per week - awarded to those who need help or supervision during the day OR during the night
- The higher rate is £89.15 per week – for those who need help or supervision during the day AND during the night or for those who are terminally ill.
Also, those receiving attendance allowance are given an additional Christmas Bonus payment of £10 – this is paid automatically without any need to claim.
Attendance Allowance is not usually paid to people living in a care home if their care is paid for by the local authority. If the care home fees are paid privately then it is possible to apply for Attendance Allowance.
Payments are also suspended if someone is admitted to hospital for four weeks or more. The length of stay does not include the days of admission to, or discharge from, hospital. This rule can become very complicated if your parent ends up spending a number of different periods in hospital within 28 days of each other. This Citizens Advice Bureau article explains more about this.
How to apply?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administers this allowance.
There is a detailed and lengthy application for to complete. You can get the form by telephoning the Attendance Allowance Helpline weekdays 9.30am -3.30pm.
Telephone: 0800 731 0122
Or you can download a pdf form from the government website here. The form is interactive if you have the correct software but it must be posted back to the DWP - it is not an online service.
Claims can be backdated
It can take 6-8 weeks for the DWP to process the application but payments can be backdated and will usually start when the completed form is received or when the applications pack was requested (as long as it is completed and submitted within 6 weeks).
Filling in the forms
Before starting, it’s essential to read the notes which come with the form and note the checklist of details which will need to be supplied i.e.
- National Insurance number
- Details of GP
- List of regular medication
- Relevant hospital records
Beware! Filling in the actual forms can be difficult - there are lots of questions and it will take a long time to complete.
The answers should convey to the DWP why your parent needs help, what sort of help they need, when they need it and how often they need it. Needing help with housework, gardening or other tasks around the home does not count.
This link to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will give you detailed advice about completing the form - it also includes some example responses. CAB also have a helpful “diary template” which will help you to get a good idea of the type of needs which are relevant and which the DWP are concerned about. You can ask the CAB for help or advice with completing the form.
Although you can complete the form on their behalf, your parent should sign the form unless they are unable to do so for health reasons (further details are provided in the application pack)
Towards the end of the form there is the option to include a statement from someone who can further support the application. Ideally a healthcare professional you've seen recently would complete this part but this might not be easy and a friend, relative or carer is acceptable as long as they are in a position to fully understand how much help your parent needs.