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Attendance Allowance

Key information

Attendance Allowance is money for people aged 65 or over who have care needs

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Age rules: You must be 65 or over

If you are under 65 see our Personal Independence Payment information sheet

Type of benefit: Non means tested

Taxable: No

Administered by: Disability and Carers Service.



You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does it help?

Attendance Allowance is money for people who have care needs – i.e. you need help with things like getting dressed or going to the toilet or having someone to look after you so you do not hurt yourself.  It could include help outside the home. It does not matter if no one actually gives you this help, as long as you can show you need it. Attendance Allowance does not cover mobility needs.

To get Attendance Allowance, you must not be living in a council care home or in hospital. You must be living in the UK when you make a claim for Attendance Allowance and the UK must be where you normally live. Also you must usually have lived in the UK for six months in the last year. However, this rule does not apply to people who are terminally ill.

There are special rules for some people who are living in, or have returned from a European Economic Area country. The rules are complicated, so if this applies to you, we recommend that you seek advice from a benefits expert. You can use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to find a local one.

You must usually have had care needs for at least six months before you can get Attendance Allowance. This rule does not apply if you are terminally ill.

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Rules for people who have a terminal illness

If you have a terminal illness, there are special rules to help you get Attendance Allowance without delay. If your doctors say that you are terminally ill and reasonably expected to die within six months, you can get the highest rate of Attendance Allowance straight away and do not have to have had care needs for six months before you claim. You do not have to have been living in the UK for six months in the last year. You will need to ask your doctor/healthcare professional for a form called a DS 1500 and fill in the special rules section of the Attendance Allowance claim form.

Another person, such as your partner, relative or friend can apply for Attendance Allowance on your behalf without your knowledge under the special rules. However, even if someone else makes the claim for you, the money will be paid to you.

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How much does it pay?

It is paid at two rates depending on how often you need care.

Lower rate £54.45 a week (£55.10 from April 2015)

You get this if you need frequent care throughout the day or night. 

Higher rate £81.30 a week (£82.30 from April 2015)

You get this if you need frequent care throughout the day and night or if you are terminally ill.

You can spend Attendance Allowance as you want. You do not have to spend it on someone looking after you.

It can be paid for a minimum of six months or longer if you carry on having care needs. If you go into hospital, it will stop after four weeks.

If you start to get Attendance Allowance, it might increase the amount of other benefits or credits you are entitled to. For example, you may get extra:

Attendance Allowance is normally ignored as income for working out other benefits.

Also if you start getting Attendance Allowance, someone looking after you might be able to claim a benefit called Carer's Allowance.

If you receive Attendance Allowance you also qualify for a Christmas Bonus each year. This is usually £10. You do not need to make a claim for the bonus it is paid automatically. It does not affect any other benefits you might get.

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How do I make a claim?

Paper Claim

Phone the Attendance Allowance helpline for a claim form:

Telephone: 0345 605 6055

Textphone: 0845 604 5312

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Or you can download a claim form from the Gov.UK website (link opens in a new window).

The form comes with notes telling you how to fill it in and where to send it.

In Northern Ireland

Phone the Attendance Allowance helpline for a claim form:

Telephone 0345 605 6055

Textphone 0345 604 5312

Phone the Disability and Carers Service for a claim form:

Telephone: 028 9090 6178
Textphone: 0800 243 787

Download a claim form from the NI Direct website (link opens in a new window) 

After your claim form is received, you may have to have a medical examination although this would not usually happen.

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What documents will I need?

You have to give your national insurance number and evidence of who you are, for example, a driving licence or birth certificate.

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Can it be backdated?

A claim for Attendance Allowance cannot be backdated. The date of your claim will be the date you call and ask for a claim form as long as you complete and return it within the time given. If you download a claim it will be the date your completed claim form is received.

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Challenging decisions

If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim you can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or appeal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

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Change of circumstance

You must report changes in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement to this benefit

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Benefits Cap and Attendance Allowance

If you or your partner receive Attendance Allowance, you will be exempt from the Benefit Cap.

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Last updated: 3 March 2015

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