Attendance Allowance

To qualify for Attendance Allowance (AA), you must be aged 65 or over and have problems with personal care. You must have had these problems for at least 6 months. For example, this may include getting out of bed, having a bath, dressing yourself or using the toilet.

Attendance Allowance is paid at one of two rates:

  • the lower rate of £57.30 a week if you need help during the day or at night.
  • the higher rate of £85.60 if you need help during the day and at night.

To claim in England, Scotland or Wales, call the Department for Work and Pensions’ Attendance Allowance helpline on 0800 731 0122. In Northern Ireland, call the Disability and Carers Service helpline on 0800 587 0912 and ask them to send you a form.

What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a benefit for people aged 65 or over. It is for people who have problems looking after themselves because of an illness or disability.

If you are aged under 65, you should claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) instead of AA.


Who can claim?

To get AA, you must have problems with looking after yourself (personal care needs). You must have had these problems for at least 6 months.

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 extremely 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 PIP whether you are working or not
  • you do not usually need to have paid National Insurance to claim AA
  • you do not need to have a carer 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 (special rules)

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

Claiming AA under special rules means:

  • you do not have to show that you have any care needs
  • 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 you could get

Attendance Allowance (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 £57.30 a week if you need help during the day or at night
  • the higher rate of £85.60 a week if you need help during the day and at night.

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 to claim

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can download and print an application form from 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 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

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

In England, Scotland and Wales, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) aims to process new claims for Attendance Allowance (AA) in around 6 weeks.

In Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities (DfC) usually takes about 5 weeks to process new claims.

Claims made under special rules will be dealt with more quickly.


Getting help from a welfare rights adviser

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.

You could also contact your local Citizens Advice.


If your 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.


If your 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.


If you are refused Attendance Allowance

If you are refused AA, you can ask the DWP or DfC to reconsider its decision within a 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 a 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.

Back to Disability-related benefits

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment has replaced Disability Living Allowance in England, Scotland and Wales for people aged 16–64 with a long-term disability.