Understanding Benefits – A Guide To “Attendance Allowance”

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit for people aged 65 or over who need someone to help look after them because they are physically or mentally disabled.

Who can get Attendance Allowance?

You may get Attendance Allowance if:
• you have a physical disability (including sensory disability, such as blindness), a mental disability (including learning difficulties), or both
• your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own or someone else’s safety
• you are aged 65 or over when you claim
Normally, you must have had these care or supervision needs for at least six months. However, if you are terminally ill, there are special rules for claiming the benefit.
If you are under age 65, you may be able to get Disability Living Allowance.
Attendance Allowance is not usually affected by any savings or income you may have.

Special Rules – if you are terminally ill:
There are special rules for people who are terminally ill. This means people who have a progressive illness and are not expected to live more than another six months. You can get the higher rate of Attendance Allowance straight away.
• Attendance Allowance – eligibility:

To get Attendance Allowance, your disability must be severe enough for you to need any of the following:

  • help with things such as washing (and getting in or out of the bath or shower), dressing, eating, getting to and using the toilet, or communicating your needs
  • supervision to avoid putting yourself or others in substantial danger, for example, needing someone to keep an eye on your medical condition or diet, or because you cannot control the way you behave
  • someone with you when you are on dialysis

There are two rates of Attendance Allowance depending on how your disability affects you:

  • the lower rate, if you need help with personal care frequently or supervision continually throughout the day only, help with personal care or someone to watch over you during the night only, or someone with you when you are on dialysis
  • the higher rate, if you meet both a day and a night condition for the middle rate, or if you are terminally ill and claiming under special rules (see below)

You can get Attendance Allowance even if no one is actually giving you the care you need – even if you live alone.

Special rules – if you are terminally ill

If you have a progressive disease and are not reasonably expected to live for more than another six months, there are special rules to help you get Attendance Allowance more quickly and easily. You can get the higher rate immediately, whatever your care needs are, without waiting until you have needed help for six months.

You can make a claim for someone under the special rules without them knowing or without their permission. If they satisfy the relevant conditions, they will get a letter saying that they have been awarded Attendance Allowance, but special rules will not be mentioned.

To claim under these special rules, complete an Attendance Allowance claim form and get a separate completed form DS1500 from your doctor, specialist or consultant to send with it.

Medical examinations
You will not usually need a medical examination when you claim for Attendance Allowance, but sometimes it is necessary in order to assess how your condition affects you.
• Attendance Allowance – medical examination

Some people who make a claim for Attendance Allowance may be asked to have a medical examination. This is usually because more information is needed about your disability or illness before a decision can be made on your claim.

What is a medical examination?

A medical examination involves an interview and sometimes a medical examination with a doctor who has completed specialised training in disability and benefit awareness.

The examination is likely to be different from what you would expect from your own doctor. The Medical Services doctor’s examination is not to diagnose or discuss treatment of your medical condition; it is to assess how your condition affects you and the doctor may not need to carry out a physical examination.

Who does what

The people and organisations involved in the medical examination process are:

  • the Disability and Carers Service – who are part of the Department for Work and Pensions – who handle benefit claims
  • Medical Services – who organise medical examinations on behalf of the Disability and Carers Service
  • the ‘decision-maker’ – a non-medical person within the Disability and Carers Service who is responsible for making a decision on your benefit claim
  • the Examining Medical Practitioner – the doctor who carries out the medical examination

Why you’ve been asked for a medical examination

You may have been asked for a medical examination for several reasons. It doesn’t mean the information you’ve provided on your claim form is being treated as suspicious or that your claim will be turned down. One of the reasons for a medical examination may be to check you’re receiving the full amount of benefit you’re entitled to.

When you first apply for Attendance Allowance, you are sent a claim form to complete. Your completed claim form is assessed by the decision maker, who must decide whether to approve your claim and if so, whether you’re entitled to receive Attendance Allowance at the higher or lower rate.

Decision-makers may ask for a medical examination if they need more information before they can make a decision, or they’re unsure about any details.

If you are terminally ill

If you have a terminal illness and are not expected to live longer than six months, there are special rules to help you get your benefit quickly and easily. It is very unlikely that you will have a medical examination.

Medical examinations when you’re already getting Attendance Allowance

If you’ve been awarded Attendance Allowance for a fixed period, you will have to make another claim to renew your benefit just before your entitlement ends. This is called a ‘renewal claim’. Renewal claims are treated exactly the same as new claims, so you may be asked to attend a medical examination.

Your rights at a medical examination

The medical examination will usually take place in your own home (or where you live) at a time that suits you. It may also take place at a Medical Examination Centre near where you live. You should be given seven days’ notice of your examination but you can ask for an earlier appointment if that suits you better.

If you miss your first examination appointment, the doctor must make a second attempt to visit you. If you miss two appointments, or refuse to attend, your benefit claim may be turned down.

You have the right to:

  • have a friend, relative or support worker with you at the medical examination
  • ask for an interpreter if you need one
  • ask to be examined by a doctor of the same gender as yourself

You need to let Medical Services know ahead of time if you want an interpreter or same-gender doctor. They will try to find one for you, but this may not always be possible in some areas.

How much Attendance Allowance do you get?
The amount you get depends on how much your disability affects you. There are two rates of Attendance Allowance.
Attendance Allowance Weekly rate
Higher rate £71.40
Lower rate £47.80

How to claim:
Claim straight away – if you delay you may lose benefit.
You can get a claim pack by:
• phoning the Benefit Enquiry Line
• downloading the form from this website
You can also claim online.
• Attendance Allowance – rates and how to claim:
How it is paid:
Attendance Allowance is normally paid directly into any account of your choice which accepts Direct Payment of benefits. This might be a bank, building society or other account provider.
You may be able to get someone else to collect your Attendance Allowance if you wish. For help with this please contact your bank, building society or other account provider.
If you would like more information about how you can be paid by other means, please contact the office dealing with your claim.
Effect on other benefits and entitlements
If you start to get Attendance Allowance, it might increase the amount of other benefits or credits you are entitled to. You may get an extra amount for severe disability with Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Pension Credit.
Attendance Allowance is normally ignored as income for working out these income-related benefits and credit.
• Housing Benefit
• Council Tax Benefit
• Pension Credit – introduction
Your circumstances:
Changes to your circumstances can affect the amount of Attendance Allowance you get or whether you get it.
To get Attendance Allowance you must also meet certain conditions about your residence and presence:

Changes to your circumstances can affect whether you should get Attendance Allowance or the amount you get. This includes if your care needs change, if you go into a National Health Service hospital or a care home, or if you go abroad to live or visit.

It is important to contact the office that deals with your payments.

Your disability or medical condition

Changes in circumstances include you, or someone you claim for, needing less help with personal care or supervision, because your condition has improved or you have an aid to help you.

If your condition, or the condition of someone you care for, gets worse and you need more help, this could mean that you, or the disabled person, can get more money.

National Health Service (NHS) hospitals

Changes in circumstances include you, or someone you claim for, going into or leaving a National Health Service hospital.

Care homes

A permanent or temporary stay in a care home can affect your Attendance Allowance.

Going abroad to live or visit

If you are going to live abroad permanently you cannot usually get Attendance Allowance.

If you move to another country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and you already receive Attendance Allowance, you may continue to get it under certain circumstances.

If your visit abroad is temporary, you may continue to get Attendance Allowance if:

  • your absence from Great Britain does not last more than 26 weeks (this includes going on holiday)
  • your absence is only to get medical treatment for a condition which began before leaving Great Britain

Living in Great Britain

To get Attendance Allowance you must generally:

  • be ordinarily resident in Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales)
  • be present in Great Britain
  • have been in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey for at least 26 weeks out of the last 52 weeks (this does not apply for people paid under the special rules)
  • not be subject to immigration control

Immigration control does not stop you from getting Attendance Allowance if you are:

  • a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country
  • working in Great Britain as a national of a country which has an equal-treatment agreement with the European Union – that is Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and San Marino
  • living with one of these workers as a member of their family
  • a person who has been allowed to come into or stay in the UK because someone has agreed to be responsible for your maintenance and accommodation

You may be treated as being present in Great Britain if you are:

  • a member of HM Armed Forces serving abroad or a member of their family
  • a mariner or civilian airman working abroad
  • working on the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf - on an oil rig, for example

If you are already living in another European Economic Area country or Switzerland, find out more on the link below about whether you can get Attendance Allowance in the country where you are living.

For more information about Attendance Allowance or to request an Attendance Allowance  claim pack, call the Dept For Work & Pensions (DWP) benefits enquiry line on 0800 88 22 00 and ask for the form AA1. You can also claim for Attendance Allowance online: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/eservice/

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2 Responses to Understanding Benefits – A Guide To “Attendance Allowance”

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  2. Lowrider says:

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