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Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is money for people of pension age who have care needs because of physical or mental disability

1. What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance is money for people aged pension age or over who have care needs. You may have care needs if you need help with activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, 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 this help, as long as you can show you need it.

You can have any type of disability or illness, including sight or hearing impairments, or mental health issues such as dementia or depression.

Attendance Allowance does not cover mobility needs.

To claim Attendance Allowance, you must have needed help with your care needs for at least 6 months. (If you’re terminally ill, you can make a claim straight away.)

Attendance Allowance is paid at two different rates and how much you get depends on the level of care that you need because of your disability.

Attendance Allowance is not means-tested so your income and savings are not taken into account when assessing if you qualify for the benefit.

Claiming Attendance Allowance won’t reduce any other income you receive. If you’re awarded it, you may become entitled to other benefits, such as Pension CreditHousing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, or an increase.

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Age rules: You must be Pension Age or over

If you are aged under pension age, see our Personal Independence Payment guide

Type of benefit: Non means tested

Taxable: No

Administered by: Disability and Carers Service, Department of Work and Pensions

2. Can I get Attendance Allowance?

To get Attendance Allowance, you must usually have had care needs for at least six months.

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 104 of the past 156 weeks (two years out of the past three).

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.

Rules for people who have a terminal illness

If your doctors say that you are terminally ill and reasonably expected to die within six months, there are special rules to help you get the highest rate of Attendance Allowance straight away. You do not have to have had care needs for six months before you claim. You also do not have to meet the past presence test.

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.

3. How much Attendance Allowance will I get?

Attendance Allowance is paid at two rates depending on how often you need care:

  • The lower rate is £60.00 a week. You get this if you need frequent care throughout the day or night
  • The higher rate is £89.60 a week. 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.

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.

Benefit Cap

If you or your partner receive Attendance Allowance, you will be exempt from the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive.

How will I be paid Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance will be paid directly into your bank or building society account, or by Payment Exception Service if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account.

Attendance Allowance is usually paid every four weeks.

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. See our Benefits in hospital guide.

Attendance Allowance and other benefits

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 Housing Benefit (England, Scotland, Wales), Housing Benefit (Northern Ireland) or Pension Credit. You should tell the organisations who pay your other benefits that you have been awarded Attendance Allowance.

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

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

Last updated: October 2021

4. How do I claim Attendance Allowance?

England, Scotland or Wales

Phone the Attendance Allowance helpline for a claim form:
Telephone: 0800 731 0122
Textphone: 0800 731 0317
Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 3:30 pm

You can also use the RELAY service to claim using British Sign Language (BSL).

You can also download an Attendance Allowance claim form on the Gov.UK website. If you do this, your claim will not start until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) receives your form.

Northern Ireland

You can download a claim form from the NI Direct website

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

After your claim form is received, you may have to have a face-to-face assessment.

What documents will I need to claim Attendance Allowance?

You should give your national insurance number. If you do not have a national insurance number, send in the claim form anyway to save delays. You may also be asked for proof of your identity, such as a birth certificate, passport or driving licence.

When will my Attendance Allowance claim begin?

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 form, it will be the date your completed claim form is received.

Change of circumstances

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

Updated October 2021


5. How do I challenge an Attendance Allowance decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your claim, 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