What is Attendance Allowance

A practical guide to claiming Attendance Allowance benefit

This guide covers what Attendance Allowance is, how it is assessed, paid and claimed for in the UK. Read on if you need an introduction to Attendance Allowance or are interested in claiming attendance allowance. The guide is written by Benefit Answers who are provide help and advice to those seeking to claim benefits.

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What is Attendance Allowance
(and how can I claim it?)

Attendance Allowance is a weekly benefit that is paid to people who have reached state pension age. Attendance allowance 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 of attendance allowance 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 a chair, dressing, keeping clean, eating, drinking, communicating or help with medication. Collectively we can call this 'personal care'. In fact this includes anything to do with your body and how it works. For example, you may be able to dress yourself but unable to get the clothes yourself - this would be reasonable if needed to help you to dress.

The word "reasonable" is important. The attention you require need only be reasonably required not medically required. Also, you don't have to prove you get the help; you need to show that the help is reasonably needed.

Attendance Allowance is different to Disability Living Allowance and is not one of the DWP's means tested benefits.

Click here to read our 'Guide to the UK's Attendance Allowance Claim Form'. The claim form can be quite complex to complete and the guide is helpful if you've not done it before but it's very helpful if you want to claim attendance allowance.

Do I need a carer to qualify for Attendance allowance?

You do not have to have someone who stays with you as a carer or helper to be paid attendance allowance.   Frequent means a few times a day, not just once or twice.

Sometimes attention can be supervision and supervision, attention. For example someone could give attention to intervene in case you have an accident - this would also count as supervision.

Elderly man receiving assistance with daily tasks.

What rates are Attendance Allowance paid at?

Attendance Allowance is paid at two rates. 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).

If you live alone, don't worry. If no one helps you, don't worry.  Simply explain how someone helping would make thing easier, less painful or not as time consuming.

When you are completing your answers to claim attendance allowance application remember that if you get tired or breathless doing things mention it. If it takes you a long time to do things, mention this.

Elderly woman receiving assistance at night.

What do I do if I don't like the outcome of my Attendance Allowance application?

So you’ve made your claim for attendance allowance 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 attendance allowance forms to claim again. 

But I don't like the decision...

Okay you’re not happy. 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 process is called a “mandatory reconsideration”. There are some things to consider with this “reconsideration”. If you have not been awarded Attendance Allowance then you have nothing to lose. However, if 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. 

However, not many attendance allowance decisions are changed by this reconsideration process. You then have to appeal.

If you leave it more than a month to do anything about the attendance allowance 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 Attendance Allowance one such condition may be a change in circumstances which could give you a chance at a supersession (see below).

What counts as a change of circumstances in relation to Attendance Allowance?

A change in something personal to you. For example if your condition has got worse and you now need to do things more slowly or there are things you cannot do, this may be a change in circumstances. But your condition getting worse by itself may not be a change in circumstances unless it has a personal effect on you. This will all affect whether you are entitled to attendance allowance.

 I would like the higher rate of Attendance allowance

I have been awarded the lower rate but would like the higher rate of attendance allowance...

You may receive the lower rate of attendance allowance and, because you have a change in circumstances, would like to claim higher rate.  The process is actually called a supersession when you already receive one of the two components. 

You can say you are happy with attendance 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. 

If you need any further help perhaps to phrase a letter for a supersession, or if you are refused Attendance Allowance and would like to take matters further contact us.

If you already receive attendance allowance but are worried about continuing to receiving attendance allowance then contact us. There is also an attendance allowance helpline.

What conditions might you be able to claim Attendance Allowance for?

There is no official list of conditions that automatically qualify or disqualify you to get Attendance Allowance. Your eligibility to get attendance allowance is all about your ability to manage with daily life and personal care.

If you find that conditions such as Arthritis or Fibromyalgia mean it is harder to manage your personal care then Attendance Allowance may be appropriate for you.

Chronic back pain, anything that makes you terminally ill, Osteoporosis, Cerebral Palsy, Cataracts, Glaucoma, Parkinson's Disease, Dementia, Epilepsy to name a few.

You may also be eligible for Attendance Allowance if your disability or illness is a mental health condition.

Is Attendance Allowance a tax free benefit?

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit in the UK. It is provided to help cover the extra costs associated with long-term illness or disability that requires care or supervision. This benefit is not means-tested, so it is not affected by the recipient's income or savings.

Can I claim other benefits at the same time as Attendance Allowance?

Yes, you can claim other benefits at the same time as Attendance Allowance. In fact, receiving Attendance Allowance can sometimes increase the amount of other benefits you are entitled to.

Can I claim attendance allowance if I am terminally ill?

Yes, you can claim Attendance Allowance if you are terminally ill. The process for claiming is streamlined to ensure you receive the benefit as quickly as possible. This is known as claiming under "Special Rules" or "Special Rules for End of Life."

Key Points for Claiming Under Special Rules:

  1. Definition of Terminal Illness: For Attendance Allowance purposes, terminal illness is defined as a condition where a person is not expected to live for more than six months.
  2. Fast-Tracked Process: Claims under Special Rules are fast-tracked, meaning they are processed more quickly than standard claims.
  3. No Waiting Period: You do not have to wait the usual six months to qualify; you can receive the benefit immediately.
  4. Higher Rate Automatically Awarded: If you qualify under Special Rules, you will automatically be awarded the higher rate (extra money) of Attendance Allowance.

How does Attendance Allowance differ from Carer's allowance?

Carer's Allowance is intended to provide financial support to people who spend a significant amount of time caring for someone with substantial care needs.

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