Could You Claim Attendance Allowance?

  • Published 14.04.2024
Attendance Allowance

by Nick Daws

Attendance Allowance is a UK welfare benefit available to people who have reached state pension age who need help caring for themselves due to illness or disability. It aims to cover the extra costs of care, whether at home or in a care facility.

Attendance Allowance is administered in England, Wales and Scotland by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In Northern Ireland the Department for Communities (DfC) has responsibility for it.

Navigating the intricacies of the benefit can be daunting and it’s thought that over three million older people who would be eligible for Attendance Allowance aren’t currently claiming it.

So in this article we aim to help you understand if you may be eligible for Attendance Allowance and, if so, how to go about applying.

Attendance Allowance Rates

The amount of Attendance Allowance you receive depends on the level of care you require. There are two rates.

Lower Rate: If you need help during the day or night, or supervision to ensure your safety, you may be eligible for the lower rate. For the 2024/25 financial year, this is £72.65 per week or £3,777.80 per year.

Higher Rate: If you require help or supervision throughout both day and night, you may qualify for the higher rate. You should also be eligible if you are terminally ill.  The higher rate for 2024/25 is £108.55 per week or £5,644.60 per year.

Payments are normally made every four weeks direct to your bank account. The money is yours to spend as you wish to make your life a bit easier.

It’s worth noting that you do NOT need to have someone currently caring for you in order to claim Attendance Allowance. Eligibility is based on your need for care rather than whether you are actually receiving it.

Is Attendance Allowance Taxable?

No, Attendance Allowance is not taxable. This means the amount you receive won’t be subject to income tax, regardless of your total income from other sources. This ensures that the whole of the allowance can go toward covering your care costs.

Is Attendance Allowance Means Tested?

Again, no. Attendance Allowance is not means tested. Eligibility is based purely on care needs, as set out above. In addition, it won’t normally affect your entitlement to other welfare benefits. Indeed, you may also be eligible for extra pension credit, housing benefit or council tax reduction (see below) if you receive Attendance Allowance.

What Are The 56 Conditions That Qualify For Attendance Allowance?

The conditions that could qualify you for Attendance Allowance include the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Spondylosis
  • Back Pain – other/precise diagnosis not specified
  • Disease of the muscles, bones or joints
  • Trauma to limbs
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Heart disease
  • Chest disease
  • Asthma
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurological diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Metabolic disease
  • Traumatic paraplegia/tetraplegia
  • Major trauma other than traumatic paraplegia/tetraplegia
  • Learning difficulties
  • Psychosis
  • Psychoneurosis
  • Personality disorder
  • Dementia
  • Behavioural disorder
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Hyperkinetic syndrome
  • Renal disorders
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Bowel and stomach disease
  • Blood disorders
  • Haemophilia
  • Multi-system disorders
  • Multiple allergy syndrome
  • Skin disease
  • Malignant disease
  • Severely mentally impaired
  • Double amputee
  • Deaf/blind
  • Haemodialysis
  • Frailty
  • Total parenteral autrition
  • AIDS
  • Infectious diseases: Viral disease – coronavirus Covid-19
  • Infectious diseases: Viral disease – precise diagnosis not specified
  • Infectious diseases: Bacterial disease – tuberculosis
  • Infectious diseases: Bacterial disease – precise diagnosis not specified
  • Infectious diseases: Protozoal disease – malaria
  • Infectious diseases: Protozoal disease – other/precise diagnosis not specified
  • Infectious diseases – other/precise diagnosis not specified
  • Cognitive disorder – other/precise diagnosis not specified
  • Terminally ill

However, it should be noted that simply having one of these conditions does notin itself mean you will automatically qualify for Attendance Allowance. The key requirement concerns your need for help and support, as explained earlier.

It should also be noted that you won’t be able to get Attendance Allowance if you already receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Adult Disability Payment (ADP), or the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). However, as mentioned earlier, it will not affect any other benefits you are claiming.

Attendance Allowance Pitfalls

While Attendance Allowance is a valuable resource, it’s essential to be aware of potential pitfalls.

One common misconception is that it’s means-tested like many other benefits, but – as stated above – it isn’t. Eligibility is based solely on your care needs, not your income or savings. However, it’s crucial to provide detailed and accurate information about your care needs, as this will determine your eligibility.

Another possible pitfall is assuming that if you receive other benefits, you’re automatically entitled to Attendance Allowance as well. That is not necessarily the case, as each benefit has its own set of criteria and eligibility requirements. It’s important to assess your situation carefully and apply for Attendance Allowance separately if you believe you qualify.

How Much Is Attendance Allowance Per Week?

As mentioned above, the amount paid for Attendance Allowance varies depending on whether you qualify for the lower or higher rate. The current weekly rates, as of this writing, are £72.65 for the lower rate and £108.55 for the higher rate. These rates are reviewed annually and may be subject to change.

Do You Pay Council Tax If You Are On Attendance Allowance?

Receiving Attendance Allowance doesn’t automatically mean you won’t have to pay council tax. If you receive Attendance Allowance, however, you may be eligible for a reduction in your council tax bill. You may even be given exemption from paying council tax.

Eligibility criteria vary between local authorities, so it’s advisable to contact your local council for specific information about council tax reductions for Attendance Allowance recipients.

How To Apply For Attendance Allowance

You have to apply for Attendance Allowance on an official application form. Unfortunately this is quite long and complicated. You can either download the form from the Government website or you can phone them on 0800 731 0122 and ask for a form to be sent to you.

In Northern Ireland you can download the form from this site or phone the Disability and Carers Service on 0800 587 0912. You can apply yourself or someone else can apply on your behalf (with your permission, of course).

Here are a few tips to make completing the form easier:

  • Don’t rush at it like the proverbial bull in a china shop. If you do, you will almost certainly make mistakes and forget things. If you requested the form by phone you have six weeks to complete and return it, so take advantage of this. This can be a good reason for requesting the form by phone rather than online, incidentally.
  • Read the notes that accompany the form before you start to complete it. This will help you understand what the assessors are looking for to determine whether you are eligible for the benefit (and at what rate).
  • Keep a diary for a few days at least (ideally a week). Record in this all the occasions on which you need help and support. For example, if you need help getting dressed or washing, note when this happens and how many times a day.
  • Assemble any supporting evidence for your claim and submit this with your application. This might include care plans, prescription lists, letters from your GP or hospital consultant, and so on.
  • Bear in mind that you don’t have to require continuous support to receive the benefit. In addition, it doesn’t matter who is providing your care currently (or if nobody is).
  • Remember that care needs can be psychological as well as physical. If you need support to combat loneliness and depression (for example), you can and should mention this.
  • If you are struggling to complete the form, help is available from welfare advisers and organisations such as Citizens Advice and Age UK. Check out their websites in the first instance and contact them directly for further assistance if needed.

If your application is successful your benefit will be backdated to the date the form was received or, if you originally requested it by phone and are within the six-week deadline, the date the form was sent to you. If unsuccessful, you can appeal.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article will be helpful for anyone who has elderly relatives who may be struggling financially, or indeed the individuals themselves. This money has been set aside for you by the government, so please don’t let pride get in the way of claiming it.

Take your time completing the forms, provide as much information to support your application as possible, and seek help if required.

Good luck, and we hope you are soon receiving this valuable benefit that can make living with illness and disabilities in later life a little more bearable.

Nick Daws writes for Pounds and Sense, a UK personal finance and lifestyle blog aimed especially at older people.

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