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Attendance allowance

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F22

What is attendance allowance?

You can claim attendance allowance if you are disabled, are aged 65 or over and need help to look after yourself. There are two rates of payment, a lower rate and a higher rate. Attendance allowance is tax free and not means tested

You do not actually have to be getting any help. It is the help you need that is important. Any savings you have do not affect your attendance allowance.

What are the rules for attendance allowance?

To get attendance allowance you must:

  • be aged 65 or over when you claim;
  • pass at least one of the disability tests;
  • meet the qualifying period condition (see below); and
  • pass the residence and presence tests (see below) and not be subject to immigration control.

The disability tests

Lower rate

For the lower rate of attendance allowance, you must satisfy one of the following conditions. You need:

during the day:

  • frequent attention throughout the day in connection with your bodily functions; or
  • continual supervision throughout the day to avoid substantial danger to you or others.

or during the night:

  • prolonged or repeated attention at night in connection with your bodily functions; or
  • another person to be awake at night for a prolonged period or at frequent intervals to watch over you in order to avoid substantial danger to you or others.

Higher rate

For the higher rate of attendance allowance, you must satisfy either of the following. You:

  • have one of the day needs and one of the night needs conditions shown above; or
  • are terminally ill.

The qualifying period condition

You will need to have satisfied the disability tests for six months before you can be paid. This rule does not apply if you are terminally ill.

What do the terms in the disability tests mean?

needs - This is help that is reasonably needed, not what is actually given, nor what is medically essential. This is help to lead as normal a life as possible. This includes help you need outside your home. For example, you can be given help to do your own shopping or to take part in ‘reasonable’ social activities.

frequent - Means several times, not once or twice.

attention - This is help of an active nature needed to be given in your physical presence. This can include help given to you to wash, dress or to go to the toilet. It can also be more indirect help such as signing, reading aloud or prompting and encouragement.

throughout - This means spread over the day.

bodily functions - These include hearing, eating, seeing, washing, reading, communicating, walking, drinking, sitting, sleeping, dressing or undressing, using the toilet, shaving, shampooing and help with medication. Anything to do with your body and how it works can count.

continual - Means regular checking but not non-stop supervision; does not have to be constant.

supervision - This is watching over, ready to intervene.

substantial danger - The danger must be real, not just remotely possible.

prolonged - Means some little time (at least 20 minutes).

repeated - Means two or more times.

night - This is when the household has closed down for the night. It is generally the time when an adult is in bed but must be more or less within night-time hours - generally between the hours of 11pm and 7 am.

terminally ill - You are terminally ill if you are suffering from a progressive disease where death can reasonably be expected within six months.  An award made because you are terminally ill will usually be for a fixed period of three years; after that period it will be reviewed.

How much is attendance allowance?

weekly lower rate - £55.65
weekly higher rate - £83.10

How do I claim?

You can call and ask for a form AA1A.

Telephone: 0345 605 6055
Textphone: 0345 604 5312
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

If you return the completed form within six weeks, it will be backdated to the day you requested it.

You can download an Attendance Allowance form at www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance/how-to-claim.

For Northern Ireland, call 0300 123 3356 (Text phone 028 9031 1092). You can also download a claim form by going to www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/attendance-allowance

The residence and presence tests

To qualify for attendance allowance, you must satisfy the residence and presence tests. For this, you must:

  • be present in Great Britain* and have been present in Great Britain* for two out of the last three years before claiming; and
  • be habitually resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Ireland or the Isle of Man (see below).

'Present' means physically present in Great Britain*. There are rules that may allow you to be treated as present during a temporary absence. 

If you are terminally ill, you only have to be currently present in Great Britain*, you do not need to have been present in Great Britain* for two out of the last three years before claiming.

* or Northern Ireland, if you live there

There is no legal definition of 'habitual residence'. Relevant factors are where you normally live, where you expect to live in future, your reasons for coming to this country, the length of time spent abroad before you came here, and any ties you still have with the country where you have come from.

For more information see our Disability Rights Handbook.

Where can I get more help or information?

This factsheet is a basic overview of attendance allowance. You can find out more detailed information in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK.

You can get help and information at your local advice centre, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

Martin Inch and Ian Greaves
8 June 2017