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 the benefit. 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 aged over pensionable age. 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 a chair, dressing, keeping clean, eating, drinking, communicating or help with medication. 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.

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


What rates are Attendance Allowance paid at?

The 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 remember that if you get tired or breathless doing things mention it. If it takes you a long time to do things, mention this.


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

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. 

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 the 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 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 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 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.


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

You may receive the lower rate 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 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. 

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


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