What is Attendance Allowance (AA)?

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

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 with looking after yourself. You must need one of the following:

  • 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.

Help with personal care means help with things like:

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

You may need help with personal care because you are having problems with physical things, such as washing yourself. Or you may need help because of how you are feeling. For example, you may find it extremely stressful trying to do day-to-day personal tasks.

If you often have problems looking after yourself or need someone with you to make sure you are safe, you should think about applying for AA.

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 do not affect your claim
  • if you get AA, your other benefits will not be reduced – they may even increase
  • AA payments are tax-free.

Can I claim AA and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

AA and PIP are similar benefits but cannot be claimed at the same time. AA is a benefit for people at or over State Pension. PIP is for those aged between 16 and State Pension age. If you are under State Pension, you should claim PIP instead of AA.

Terminal illness and special rules

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

We have more information about 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 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 depends on how much care you need. You may be paid:

  • the lower rate of £60.00 a week if you need frequent help or constant supervision during the day, or supervision at night
  • the higher rate of £89.60 a week if you need help or supervision throughout both the day and night, or 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 at GOV.UK. 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. You can also call the Disability and Carers Service helpline on 0800 587 0912, or use textphone 0800 012 1574 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 be backdated to the date you requested the form.

The claim form asks personal questions about how your health problems affect your daily life. You should include as much detail as possible.

The form is long. You will need to make sure you have plenty of time to fill it in. You may find it helpful to read the form first. Then you can get all the information you need before you start. The form also comes with notes to explain and help you answer the questions.

Recording the problems you have every day in a diary can also help to show how your condition affects your daily life. We have a diary you can download to do this.

Someone else can complete the form on your behalf, if you can sign it. If you cannot sign the form, the person completing the form needs legal permission to sign it on your behalf. This is called power of attorney. You can find out more information about this at GOV.UK.

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

Who can help me apply for AA?

Getting support from an experienced welfare rights adviser can help your application.

You can speak to a Macmillan welfare rights adviser free by calling 0808 808 00 00.

Visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out if you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person.

You could also contact your local Citizens Advice or benefits advice centre.

What happens if my claim is approved?

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

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 cannot 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 for more than 4 weeks.

The rules are complicated, so it is a good idea to speak with a welfare rights adviser. You can call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00.

Visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out if you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person.

You should tell the benefits service 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 0800 012 1574.

What can I do If I am refused AA?

If you are refused AA, you can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Department for Communities (DfC) to reconsider the decision. This is called a mandatory reconsideration. You must ask for a mandatory reconsideration within 1 month of the decision date. You must explain why you think the decision is wrong and give more evidence if you can.

If the DWP or DfC do not change the decision, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. You need to do this within 1 month of getting a mandatory reconsideration decision letter.

If you miss a deadline, your request may still be accepted if you have a good reason. For example, this could be if you were unable to contact the DWP or DfC 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 welfare rights adviser by calling our support line on 0808 808 00 00. Visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out if you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person.

About our information


  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by Macmillan professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Sean Conroy, Macmillan Welfare Rights and Energy Advice Team Service Manager.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.