If you've reached pension age, have an illness or disability, and you also need help with your personal care or safety, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance.
The qualifying age for Attendance Allowance is State Pension age. This benefit is for you, not for a carer, and you don't need to have someone supporting or caring for you to qualify.
If you do have a carer, they may be able to claim Carer's Allowance or National Insurance contribution credits.
Attendance Allowance is based on the help you need, not on the help you currently get. It doesn't matter whether you live alone or with other people, or if you get a lot of help or a little.
The Attendance Allowance claim form is quite long, and can be difficult to fill in because it deals with personal care issues. But it's worth taking the time to do it, because getting Attendance Allowance can increase your weekly income.
If you need help filling out the form, you can contact our free confidential helpline to be put in touch with your Parkinson's local adviser.
You're eligible for Attendance Allowance if:
- you are State Pension age
- you have had care or supervision needs for the last 6 months (the 'qualifying period')
- you have been living in the UK for 2 of the last 3 years and your immigration status doesn't prevent you claiming
- you are 'habitually resident' in the UK, and
- you are terminally ill, or
- you satisfy one of the disability tests
What are the disability tests?
To get Attendance Allowance, you must have a severe physical or mental disability (or both) that means you need:
- care from another person several times throughout the day to help with your 'bodily functions'. This can include help getting in and out of bed, getting dressed and undressed, washing and other personal hygiene needs, going to the toilet, taking medication, eating, cutting up food, drinking and communicating with other people
- continual supervision (being checked on or watched regularly – but not non-stop) throughout the day to make sure you're safe and/or not a danger to yourself or others
- care from another person at least twice each night, or for 20 minutes or more, to help you with your 'bodily functions' (as described above), or
- another person to be awake and watch over you to make sure that you're safe or not a danger to others, at least 3 times each night, or for 20 minutes or more each night
Attendance Allowance is paid at one of two weekly rates, depending on the amount of help you need:
- The lower rate is £60 and applies if you need the above care or supervision throughout the day or the night.
- The higher rate is £89.60 and applies if you need care or supervision throughout the day and the night.
'Special rules' claims
If you're terminally ill and unlikely to live more than 6 months, you can get the higher rate under 'special rules'.
In this case, your doctor, consultant or specialist nurse will need to confirm that you have a terminal illness (they can do this using a DS1500 form, which they should keep at the surgery).
There is no 6-month 'qualifying' period for terminal illness claims. Under the rules, someone else can apply on your behalf without your knowledge. Special rules claims are reviewed every 3 years.
If you're terminally ill and your GP, consultant or specialist nurse says that you are 'reasonably' expected to die within the next 6 months:
- You can get the highest rate of Attendance Allowance.
- You'll need a form called DS1500 completed by the doctor or nurse.
- You can have someone else apply on your behalf.
If you're terminally ill and live in Scotland, soon it will be possible to claim the highest rate of Attendance Allowance, even if you're expected to live more than 6 months. This change is expected in spring 2022 with the launch of the replacement for Attendance Allowance, to be called Pension Age Disability Payment.
Receiving Attendance Allowance can increase the amount of any means-tested benefits (such as Pension Credit) you get. Attendance Allowance can be paid in addition to any other social security benefits.
However, your local authority might take Attendance Allowance into account when considering whether you need to contribute to the cost of any care and support services you receive from them.
Attendance Allowance is not taxable. It's not based on National Insurance contributions. Attendance Allowance is also not means-tested. In other words, any income or savings you have do not affect whether you're awarded it or how much you get.
Can I claim Attendance Allowance alongside Disability Living Allowance?
No. If you already get Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, you'll continue to get that benefit and you won't be able to claim Attendance Allowance.
Attendance Allowance is usually paid every 4 weeks directly into a bank, building society or Post Office card account.
Your Attendance Allowance will stop after you've been in hospital for a total of 4 weeks (either in one stay, or several stays, where the gaps between stays are no more than 4 weeks each time).
You can't usually get Attendance Allowance if you live in a care home and your care is paid for by your local authority. You can still claim Attendance Allowance if you pay for all your care home costs yourself.
Attendance Allowance may be awarded to you for an indefinite period or for a fixed period of time.
If it's for a fixed period, you'll normally be sent a renewal claim form 4 months before your existing claim runs out.
You'll need to download the Attendance Allowance claim form AA1.
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can also request the form by calling the Attendance Allowance helpline on 0800 731 0122 (textphone 0800 731 0317).
You can find out about Attendance Allowance eligibility in Northern Ireland or call 0800 587 0912 (textphone 028 9031 1092).
If the Attendance Allowance helpline sends you the claim form, it will be stamped with the date you asked for it.
If Attendance Allowance is awarded to you, it will be paid from this date, as long as you return the claim form within 6 weeks.
Once you've sent off the claim form, the Department for Work and Pensions (or the Disability and Carers Service in Northern Ireland) may contact your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse for further information, or it may send one of its doctors to your home to assess you before they approve your claim.
When can I make a claim?
You must have been in need of care or supervision for 6 months before you can start being paid Attendance Allowance. You can make your claim during this 6-month qualifying period, but the benefit will not be paid until it has ended.
If you apply under the special rules for terminal illness, there is no 6 month qualifying period.
Tips for making a claim
- Use an up-to-date claim form.
- Make a photocopy of the claim form once you've completed it.
- You normally have 6 weeks, so take your time filling in the claim form – try to get help if you need it. You can call the Parkinson's helpline on 0808 800 0303.
- Don't be afraid to write too much and add extra pages if needed – just remember to write your name and National Insurance number on each page.
- Don't underestimate your needs. If you have a carer, think about what it would be like without them. If you manage on your own, don't be afraid to make it clear how difficult it is for you.
- If an assessor visits you, try not to feel uncomfortable or be rushed into making hasty comments, such as "I can manage by myself". Keep in mind why you're applying for this benefit. If you live by yourself, you might have to manage by yourself – but if you get help you may be able to do things more effectively, or quicker, or without risk or pain. Let the doctor know if this is the case.
- Your condition may change throughout the day. It's important that you write down this information when you complete the claim form.
- If your condition changes from day to day, explain what you're like on an average or typical day, but also include what you're like on both a good and bad day. Write down how often you have both good and bad days (for example, "I have bad days around four days each week").
Take some time to think about how Parkinson's affects you. It might be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is dressing a problem?
- Is bathing or showering difficult?
- Do you need help cutting toenails or fingernails?
- How do you get out of bed?
- Do you find it difficult to start moving?
- Do you fall or stumble sometimes? If so, is it difficult to get up again?
- Do you need someone with you when you go outside?
- Does your condition change throughout the day?
- Do you have times during the day when you go 'off'?
- What's your handwriting like?
- What's your speech like?
For some of these points, it may also help to keep a daily diary of your care needs.
If you feel that you've been wrongly refused Attendance Allowance, it's worth asking the Department for Work and Pensions (the Disability and Carers Service in Northern Ireland) for a 'mandatory reconsideration' of its decision.
You have 1 month from the date of the decision to do this. You can ask for a mandatory reconsideration over the phone, but it's best to confirm in writing.
It can help if you get a letter from your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse, pointing out what your care needs are. The letter may simply state that they have read the diary you've kept of your care needs and they agree that those needs are due to your condition.
If you've asked for a mandatory reconsideration and the Department for Work and Pensions doesn't change its mind, you have another month to appeal to an independent tribunal.
There are organisations that can offer help and advice (some for free) with your appeal, such as Citizens Advice, local welfare rights groups or local solicitors.
If you get the lower rate of Attendance Allowance and your condition progresses, you can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (the Disability and Carers Service in Northern Ireland) to look at your claim again and consider the higher rate.
They may do this if you need help to keep yourself safe, you need to be looked after both during the day and the night, or if you develop a terminal illness. Before putting in your request, try to get some advice and information about the process. If the Department for Work and Pensions receives information that your care needs have decreased, your benefit may be withdrawn.
Before asking for a review, you should consider how your needs have increased on a daily basis. What extra support and help do you need now that you didn't need when you first claimed Attendance Allowance Keeping a diary of your daily care needs might help you with this.
It's important to get medical support before you ask for a review. A letter from your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse that points out what your current care needs are, will help. The letter may simply say that they've read the diary of your care needs and agree that your condition would create those needs.
When you ask for a review, you need to contact:
- Attendance Allowance Unit (for England, Scotland and Wales) on 0800 731 0122 (textphone 0800 731 0317)
- Disability and Carers Service – Attendance Allowance (for Northern Ireland) on 0800 587 0912 (textphone 028 9031 1092)
You'll normally be sent a review form to complete.
If your condition improves, you'll also need to get in touch with the Attendance Allowance Unit or Disability and Carers Service as soon as you can. They'll normally send you a review form to complete, so they can re-assess your award.
It's always important to provide full, accurate information to the Attendance Allowance Unit or Disability and Carers Service, and to let them know if your circumstances change.
Download this information
We know lots of people would rather have something in their hands to read rather than look at a screen, so you can order printed copies of our information by post, phone or email.
Helpline and local advisers
Our helpline and Parkinson's local advisers are here to answer any questions you have about Attendance Allowance.
Call us on 0808 800 0303.
Last updated July 2021. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]