Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit if you are aged 65 or over and you need a lot of looking after.

Note: this leaflet gives a brief summary of Attendance Allowance and is for guidance only. It does not cover all situations, nor is it a full statement of the law. Sources of more detailed information are given at the end.

You can receive Attendance Allowance if you need care, are disabled (either physically or mentally or both) and are over 65. If you are under 65 and need care you may be entitled to Personal Independence Payment. (See separate leaflet called Personal Independence Payment.)

You must have lived in Great Britain for two of the last three years. You must be in Great Britain when you claim Attendance Allowance, and Great Britain must be your normal home. You must have needed looking after for at least six months before claiming. (However, if you are terminally ill there is no such qualifying period. See separate leaflet called Benefits for the Terminally Ill.)

If you are being paid Attendance Allowance, or are intending to claim it, and have someone caring for you, they may be entitled to Carer's Allowance. (See separate leaflet called Carer's Allowance.)

Attendance Allowance takes account of how much care you need. It makes no difference whether or not you are actually getting that care. You may be eligible even if you live alone. Your eligibility to receive Attendance Allowance is not usually affected by your finances, savings, or any other income or benefits that you may get.

The sort of care that you must need to be eligible includes the following:

  • Help with your bodily functions such as washing, getting dressed, going to the toilet.
  • Or continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid substantial danger to yourself or to others.
  • Or you are terminally ill.

Attendance Allowance is tax-free and is paid at two rates. Payment is usually made directly into a bank account, building society account, Post Office account, or National Savings account. The rate that you may get depends on whether you need care during the day, during the night, or both. The April 2014 rates are:

  • Lower rate - £54.45 per week.
  • Higher rate - £81.30 per week.

Attendance Allowance is paid from when you submitted the claim but you will not receive any payment for care you needed before you claimed.

Note: the rules for benefits can become complicated. The amounts shown above are a guide and your circumstances may affect the amount that you get. You may even be entitled to an increase in certain other benefits if you receive Attendance Allowance.

You need, or someone on your behalf needs, to complete a claim form. To obtain a claim form:

  • Telephone the Attendance Allowance Helpline on 0345 605 6055, Mon-Fri, 8am to 6pm. 
  • Download one from GOV.UK (details below). 
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, you can download one from the nidirect website (details below).

The form can be signed by someone on your behalf if you are too sick or disabled to do so. There is also a section on the form which can be filled in and signed by someone who knows how your disability affects you, such as a carer, professional care worker, or doctor.

A medical examination is not often necessary. However, you may need to be seen by a doctor for assessment if it is not otherwise possible to obtain a clear picture of how your illness or disability affects you. If you do have to have a medical assessment you will need to prove who you are by taking along one of the following:

  • A birth certificate.
  • A full driving licence.
  • A life assurance policy.
  • Bank statements.

You must inform the Benefits Helpline if your circumstances change. However, Attendance Allowance is still usually paid if you:

  • Go into hospital or a care home for less than 4 weeks.
  • Go abroad for less than 13 weeks.
  • Go abroad for less than 26 weeks to get medical treatment for a condition which began before you left.
Original Author:
Dr Tim Kenny
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hayley Willacy
Document ID:
4468 (v44)
Last Checked:
27/10/2014
Next Review:
26/10/2017
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