What is Attendance Allowance (AA)?

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a benefit for people at or above State Pension age. It is for people who have problems looking after themselves because of an illness or disability such as cancer.

If you are under State Pension age, you should claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) instead of AA.

Find out more information about the other benefits and financial support available.

Can I claim AA?

To get AA, you must have problems looking after yourself because of an illness or disability, which are sometimes called personal care needs.

You must need either:

  • help with your personal care
  • someone to be with you to keep you safe during the day or night (this is called supervision)

You must have needed this help for at least 6 months, unless you are terminally ill.

Having personal care needs may mean you need help with:

  • moving around indoors
  • eating and drinking
  • getting in and out of bed
  • dressing and undressing washing yourself – including getting in and out of the bath or shower
  • looking after your appearance
  • taking medication and managing treatments
  • using the toilet or managing incontinence
  • communicating with other people
  • having dialysis (a type of treatment for kidney problems)
  • avoiding any danger to yourself or others.

You may have personal care needs because you need help with physical things, such as washing yourself. Or it may be to do with how you are feeling. For example, it may be very stressful trying to do day-to-day tasks.

If you often have problems looking after yourself, or need someone with you to make sure you are safe, you should think about making a claim.

It is also important to know that:

  • you can claim AA whether you are working or not
  • you do not need to have paid National Insurance to claim AA
  • you do not need to have a carer or someone helping you to claim
  • your income and savings will not affect your claim
  • if you are awarded AA, your other benefits will not be reduced – they may even increase
  • AA payments are tax-free.

Terminal illness and special rules

If you are terminally ill, and your doctor thinks you may be reasonably expected to live for less than 6 months, you can apply using a fast-track process called special rules.

Claiming AA under special rules means:

  • you do not need to have had problems looking after yourself for 6 months
  • your claim will be dealt with quickly
  • you will get the benefit at the highest rate
  • the money is paid weekly
  • someone can make the claim on your behalf.

How much could I get?

AA is paid at two different rates. The rate you get will depend on how much care you need. You may be paid:

  • the lower rate of £59.70 a week if you need frequent help or constant supervision during the day, or supervision at night
  • the higher rate of £89.15 a week if you need help or supervision throughout both the day and night, or if you are terminally ill.

There are no restrictions on how you can spend AA. The money does not need to be spent on paying for care. Some people have support from family or friends, and use the money for other things, such as equipment or transport.

How can I claim AA?

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can download and print an application form from gov.uk/attendance-allowance You can also call the Department for Work and Pensions AA helpline on 0800 731 0122, or use textphone 0800 731 0317 and ask them to send you a form.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can download and print an application form at nidirect.gov.uk/articles/attendance-allowance You can also call the Disability and Carers Service helpline on 0800 587 0912, or use textphone 028 9031 1092 and ask them to send you a form. Or you could visit your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office.

If you ask for a form to be sent to you by post, try to return it within 6 weeks. If you return the form within this time, the benefit can sometimes be backdated to the date you requested the form.

The claim form asks personal questions about how your health problems affect your daily life. It is long and you should set aside a good amount of time to fill it in. You may find it helpful to read through the form before you start filling it in, so that you can get the information you need before you start. It will help your application if you include as much detail as possible.

Recording the problems that you have every day in a diary can help you show how your disability or illness affects your daily life. We have a diary that you can use to record this.

Someone else can complete the form on your behalf, as long as you can sign it. If you cannot sign the form, the person completing the form will need legal permission to sign it on your behalf. You can find out more information about this at gov.uk/become-appointee-for-someone-claiming-benefit

If you are terminally ill, you will not need to sign the form.

Who can help me apply for AA?

You have a better chance of a successful application if you get help from an experienced welfare rights adviser.

You can speak to a Macmillan welfare rights adviser free by calling 0808 808 00 00. Or visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out whether you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person near where you live.

You could also contact your local Citizens Advice.

What happens if my claim is approved?

You will be sent a decision about your claim in writing. If your claim is approved, you will be told how much you will get and how long you will get AA for.

The money is paid directly into your bank, building society or credit union account. It can also be paid to someone on your behalf if you are unable to make a claim yourself.

What happens if my situation changes?

If your situation changes, your AA claim may be affected. For example, if your condition gets worse, you may be able to get the higher rate.

Your benefit payments may be affected if you go abroad, or if you go into hospital or a care home.

The rules are complicated, so it is a good idea to get advice from a welfare rights adviser. You can call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00. Or visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out whether you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person near to where you live.

You should let the benefits service know if anything changes.

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can do this by calling the AA helpline on 0800 731 0122 or use textphone 0800 731 0317.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, you can call the Disability and Carers Service on 0800 587 0912 or use textphone 028 9031 1092.

What can I do If I am refused AA?

If you are refused AA, you can ask the DWP or DfC to reconsider its decision within one month of the decision being made. This is known as mandatory reconsideration. You will need to explain why you think the decision is wrong and provide more evidence if you can.

If the DWP or DfC will not change the decision, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. You need to do this within one month of receiving a mandatory reconsideration decision letter.

If you miss a deadline, your request might still be accepted if you have a good reason. For example, if you were unable to contact the DWP or DfC earlier because you were in hospital. If you are unsure, speak to a welfare rights adviser about your situation.

For more information about appealing a benefits decision, visit:

You can also speak to a Macmillan welfare rights adviser by calling the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00. Or visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out whether you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person near where you live.

How we can help

Macmillan Grants

If you have cancer, you may be able to get a Macmillan Grant to help with the extra costs of cancer. Find out who can apply and how to access our grants.

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