Attendance Allowance is a weekly benefit for people who need extra help because of a long-term physical or mental disability, including dementia. This page outlines what Attendance Allowance is, why you might need it and how you apply for it.
Attendance Allowance is a weekly benefit for people of State Pension age who have a long-term physical or mental disability that means they need extra help. This includes people with dementia. It is paid directly to the person with the disability and is available in England, Scotland and Wales.
There’s an equivalent benefit in Northern Ireland, also called Attendance Allowance.
There are two legal terms used in the application process for Attendance Allowance. ‘Supervision’ means that a person needs someone to check on them and make sure they’re alright. ‘Attention’ refers to someone needing help with their personal care.
If the person you care for needs attention and/or supervision, and has done so for six months or more, they could be eligible for Attendance Allowance. They may or may not already be receiving help to manage their health or care needs.
There are two rates of funding, depending on how much care the person needs:
- The lower rate is £60 per week and is for people who need frequent help or constant supervision during the day OR night
- The higher rate is £89.60 a week and is for people who need care through the day AND night
To apply for Attendance Allowance in England, Scotland or Wales, you’ll need to fill in the Attendance Allowance claim form.
The form needs to be posted to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – you cannot submit your application online. You’ll need to send it to the freepost address: Freepost DWP Attendance Allowance.
You don’t need a stamp or postcode.
If you don’t have access to a computer or printer, you can call the Attendance Allowance helpline to ask for a copy of the form, as well as alternative formats, such as braille, large print or audio CD. The Attendance Allowance helpline number is 0800 731 0122 and the textphone number is 0800 731 0317.
You can also request accessible formats online.
If you are deaf, you can have an agent translate your call into text by downloading the Relay UK application for your mobile phone or tablet (or by using Relay through your Minicom or Uniphone) and dialling 18001 before the helpline number above.
The DWP also has a video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users.
If you have any technical difficulties with the form, contact the DWP online helpdesk by email: email@example.com or by phone: 0800 169 0154.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can download an Attendance Allowance application form.
It can be handed in at a Jobs and Benefits Office, or posted to: Attendance Allowance, Disability and Carers Service, Mail Opening Unit, PO Box 42, Limavady BT49 4AN.
If you have any queries, phone 0800 587 0912. If you are deaf or have speech difficulties, you can use textphone number 0800 012 1574.
If you use BSL or Irish Sign Language (ISL) you can use the video relay service.
Attendance Allowance application forms can be difficult and take a long time to complete. It can also be hard to measure how much care a loved one really needs when you’ve been helping them for a while, and it has become the norm.
You may want to ask a friend or family member who is familiar with the person’s care needs to help you fill in the form, or you can contact one of these charities for help:
A relative, carer or friend can fill in the form on behalf of the person with dementia if they’re unable to do it themselves, but the person who needs care must sign it. If they can’t, an appointee, deputy or someone with lasting power of attorney can sign instead.
The two most important sections in the form are the Care Needs sections – one for care needs during the day, and the other for care needs at night.
There are different sections relating to the different areas of a person’s life that they may have difficulty and need help with. These are:
- getting into or out of bed
- toilet needs
- washing, bathing, showering or looking after their appearance
- dressing and undressing
- moving around indoors
- falls or stumbles
- eating, drinking or cutting up food
- taking medicine or medical treatments
- hobbies, interests, religious or social activities
- needing help or supervision at night
You will need to answer questions about each of these different areas. At the end of most of these sections there’s a box for you to add any other information that you think is relevant. It’s important that you include as much detail as you can about the difficulty the person has and the help they need in each aspect of their life. Focus on what help the person needs, not what they may already get.
One of the most important sections in your application is the section on eating, drinking or cutting up food. You’ll need to make it clear if the person with dementia is unable to plan, purchase and prepare food and drink, especially if they are totally dependent on others for the whole process. This is one of the key sections that the assessors will use to decide whether the person you care for is awarded Attendance Allowance.
Here are some things to remember when filling out these sections:
- Make sure you refer to the information booklet on applying for Attendance Allowance
- When asked to include how often the person needs help or has difficulty with a certain task, base your answer on an average, bad day
- The person reading your application may not know anything about dementia and the impact it has on a person’s life. Therefore, it’s important to include as much detail as you can about their needs: why they have those needs, and what exactly they need help with, even if it feels obvious to you
- You can submit reports about the person’s illnesses or disabilities from people who treat them, eg a hospital doctor or Occupational Therapist. This could be an assessment report, a copy of their care plan, or other similar documents
- Don’t rush the application. Once you have written your answers, take a few days to notice if there are any details about the person’s difficulties and care needs that you haven’t yet included. When you’ve filled out all the sections, read back through it carefully before you send it in
You should receive a decision letter from the DWP about 40 days (six weeks) after sending in your form. If you don’t hear back after about eight weeks, call the Attendance Allowance helpline on 0800 731 0122, and the textphone number is 0800 731 0317.
If your claim is successful, the letter will tell you how much you will receive and for how long. The payments can be backdated to the date you sent in your application – if you requested a copy of the form by phoning the helpline, you must then submit it within six weeks if you want the benefit to be backdated.
If your application is turned down, the letter will explain why. If you’re unhappy with the decision you have the right to question it. To do this, you will need to request a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ within one month of the date on the decision letter. You can do this by writing a letter and sending it to the address on the decision letter, or by completing a Mandatory Reconsideration Request Form.
If the person lives in Northern Ireland, you can find out about appealing the decision on their website.
Make a copy of your letter or form so that you can re-send it if it goes missing or refer to it later if you need to. It’s better to contest the decision by letter or form so there is a written record of the points you have raised.
If you don’t get your mandatory reconsideration request in before the one-month deadline, you should still send a letter or form in, as long as it’s within 13 months of the decision letter. You should explain why the request is late, especially if it’s because of health issues or your caring responsibilities. The DWP doesn’t have to reply, but you will then be able to take your appeal to a tribunal.
You can also appeal to a tribunal if they reject your mandatory reconsideration request. This means that a judge will look at your case and decide if the decision is fair. If you disagree with the judge’s decision – called a ‘provisional decision’ – you can then ask for a hearing.
If you are receiving Attendance Allowance and something changes, you must let the DWP know by calling the helpline. Here are some examples:
- the person’s condition changes – ie gets better or worse
- the person’s care needs increase or decrease
- the person goes into hospital for more than four weeks – you should then tell the DWP again when the person leaves hospital
- the person goes into a care home or hospice
- the person moves to another country
- the person goes to prison
Attendance Allowance is not means-tested, which means it isn’t affected by the person’s income, savings, or any other benefits they receive. Getting Attendance Allowance could actually mean they’re entitled to further benefits, or an increase in some benefits, including Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and council tax reductions.
Once the money comes through, it doesn’t have to be spent on care – it’s up to you how you spend it.
In this video Admiral Nurse Lindsay White provides an in-depth look at Attendance Allowance – what it is, why you might need it and how you apply for it.
The video includes a detailed walkthrough of the ‘Care Needs’ section of the application form and the kinds of information you should include if you are applying as a person with dementia or on behalf of someone with dementia.