How do I claim disability living allowance when I am over 65?

DLA (Disability Living Allowance) for people aged over 65 is now Attendance Allowance

I am often asked how to claim Disability Living Allowance if you're over 65. Well the simple answer is you can't. DLA is now for people aged under 65. However, there is an equivalent to Disability Living Allowance for people aged over 65 called Attendance Allowance.

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Let's rephrase the question to 'what benefits can I claim aged over 65 if I have a disability?” The answer is 'Attendance Allowance' and I am going to show you exactly what Attendance Allowance is and what makes you eligible.

Attendance Allowance is a weekly benefit that is paid to people aged over 65 and it replaces DLA for this age group. It is to help people who have difficulty with bodily functions and need attention or who need supervision to avoid danger to themselves or others.

The Allowance component is paid to people who require either:

  • “Frequent attention throughout the day, night, or both in connection with their bodily functions.” 


  • “Supervision to avoid danger to themselves or others.”

Bodily functions are personal things such as getting up from bed or out of a chair, dressing, keeping clean, eating, drinking, communicating or help with medication. 

It also includes seeing and hearing. In fact the list includes anything to do with your body and how it works. 

For example, you may be able to dress yourself but be unable to get the clothes yourself from the wardrobe or go about cleaning and ironing them.  If this is the case, it would be reasonable to conclude that you needed help to dress each day. 

The word ‘reasonable’ is important. To qualify for Attendance Allowance, the help you need need only has to be ‘reasonably required’ and not necessarily ‘medically required’. You also do not have to prove you actually receive the help; you just need to show that the help is ‘reasonably needed’.


Do I need a carer living with me to qualify for Attendance Allowance?

You do not have to have someone who stays with you as a carer or helper to qualify for Attendance Allowance.

The definition of Attendance Allowance says ‘frequent attention’.  In this context, frequent means a few times a day, not just once or twice, and at intervals during the day. 

Sometimes attention can simply be supervision. For example someone could give supervision to intervene in case you have an accident while you are going about your day.  This would still qualify you for Attendance Allowance but the person giving you supervision does not need to live with you.


What rates are Attendance Allowance Paid at?

Attendance Allowance is paid at two rates: Lower and Higher. 

The lower rate is for people who need attention or supervision during the day or night, and the higher rate is for people needing attention or supervision during both day and night.  

During the night the attention needs to be repeated (more than once) and/or prolonged (lasting for about 20 minutes or more each time attention is needed).


But what if I live alone?  Do I still qualify for Attendance Allowance?

If you live alone don’t worry.   You can still qualify for Attendance Allowance.  If no one currently helps you day to day, don’t worry you can still claim for Attendance Allowance.

When you are filling in your application form, you need to explain how having someone to help would make things easier, perhaps less painful or not as time consuming. 

Remember as well that if you get tired or breathless doing something during the day mention it. If it takes you a long time to do things, mention them too.

If you need or want any help to complete the Attendance Allowance form, contact us. We can help with the form.


What happens after I fill in and send off the Attendance Allowance Form?

So you’ve made your claim and you get a letter telling you what the DWP has decided. If you are happy with the decision, that’s the end of it. However, check to see what date your award ends - about 6 months before the end date you should receive a set of forms to claim again. Very often, however, awards are made for “life” with no end date.

What happens if the DWP refuse my Attendance Allowance application?

If the DWP refuse your application, you have one month to do something about it. This “one month” runs from the date on the letter you receive, not the date you get it. For example if the letter is dated 15th March your one month ends on 14th April. 

The first step is to ask for a ‘reconsideration’. There are some things to consider with this ‘reconsideration’. If you have not been awarded the Allowance, then you have nothing to lose. 

However, say you have been awarded the lower rate and you feel you should have the higher rate. What can you do? Again you have the 1-month time limit. 

You can say you are happy with the award you have been given but feel you should have been given the higher rate. The decision maker at the DWP is not bound by this - he or she can look at what you have been given and you could end up with nothing. So there is a risk.  

We can help you with all of this. We help people with Attendance Allowance reconsiderations all the time and have a lot of experience with reconsiderations and appeals processes.

Unfortunately, not many award decisions are actually changed by the reconsideration process. However, after a reconsideration, you then have the option to appeal anyway. We always recommend an appeal. 

If you leave it more than a month to do anything about the decision, you may find you have to make a fresh claim unless you can meet certain conditions. If you have been given the lower rate of the Allowance one such condition may be a change in circumstances which could give you a chance at a supersession (see below).

What is a change of circumstances?

A change in something personal to you. For example if your condition has become worse and you now need to do things more slowly or there are things you cannot do, this may be a change in circumstances. However, your condition getting worse by itself may not count as  change in circumstances unless it has a personal effect on you.

What if you get one rate and would like the other?

You may receive the lower rate and because you have a change in circumstances, would like to claim higher rate. To do so is not quite as simple as filling in a claim form. The process is actually called a supersession when you already receive one of the two components. 

You must write to the DWP explaining that you wish to apply for this and why. They then usually send you a special claim form to complete. You can say you are happy with the Allowance you have been given but feel you should now be getting a higher rate. The decision maker at the DWP is not bound by this - he or she can look at what you have been given and you could end up with nothing. So there is a risk. Again we can help with ALL of this.

Get help today with an Attendance Allowance Reconsideration or Appeal

Can I Get Help With Attendance Allowance claims, reconsiderations and appeals?

You absolutely can get professional help with Attendance Allowance claims, reconsiderations and appeals.  Not many people realise this but you do not have to go it alone, there are organisations (like our own, Benefit Answers) that can actually help you with the paperwork, letters to the DWP and managing the entire process on your behalf.

You can benefit from years of experience handling with Attendance Allowance claims all day long and working with people across the UK with a wide range of needs.

We are often able to ensure you are awarded Attendance Allowance in the first place as well as make successful reconsiderations and appeals if the DWP refuse your application.

You are perfectly within your rights to ask for help and to have representations made on your behalf. 

If you have any questions at all about your Attendance Allowance, or any other kind of benefit query, please use our ‘Ask a Question’ form and one of our benefits team will write back to you as soon as we can with an answer.

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