What is Attendance Allowance?

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What is Attendance Allowance?

Disability Living Allowance  

Introduction to Attendance Allowance:

Over 80% of people who put in a claim for Attendance Allowance (AA) receive an award, yet it remains a very under claimed benefit. Steve Donnison and Holiday Whitehead explain who it's for.

To be eligible for AA you must be 65 or over. (If you are under 65, claim DLA instead). You must also have health problems, such as MS, which cause you difficulties with everyday activities . For the purposes of claiming AA it doesn't matter about your savings, your pension, whether you still work, whether you live alone or anything else. Attendance Allowance is tax free and if you get an award you can spend it on anything you choose.

Attendance Allowance is paid at two rates: the lower rate is 49.30 a week and the higher rate is 73.60. It's paid in addition to other benefits, except disability living allowance (DLA) which is a similar benefit for people under 65. But if you're 65 or over and only getting the mobility component of DLA you can still claim AA. An award of AA can even lead to higher payments of other benefits, such as pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit. In addition, if someone provides care for you, your award of AA may allow them to claim carer's-allowance.

Who can claim
To be eligible for AA you need to show that you have difficulties with everyday activities such as:

  • moving about indoors

  • taking medication

  • eating and drinking

  • staying safe if you're alone

  • communicating with other people

  • getting in and out of bed

  • sleeping

  • using the toilet

  • washing and bathing

  • dressing and undressing

  • social and leisure activities.

The difficulties need to have lasted at least six months and may include things like: fatigue; stiffness; spasms; pain; severe discomfort; having to take things very slowly or needing someone to keep an eye on you to make sure you're safe. If you need reminding or encouraging to do things, perhaps because of poor concentration, depression or anxiety, this also counts.

To get the lower rate of Attendance Allowance you also need to show that because of these difficulties it would be reasonable for you to have help (even if you don't get it or even want it):
frequently and throughout the day; or
at least two or three times, or for at least twenty minutes, at night.

So if you only have difficulties in the morning and evening, perhaps with getting in and out of bed, washing, dressing and undressing then you may not qualify for Attendance Allowance. But if you also have difficulties in the middle of the day, for example with getting to and from the toilet and moving about the house, then you may well qualify.

You may also qualify if you can show that it would be reasonable for someone to keep an eye on you to protect you from dangers, such as falls, all the time during the day or for at least twenty minutes or two or three times at night.

To get the higher rate of Attendance Allowance you need to show that you have difficulties both during the day and at night.

Making a claim
If you think you may be eligible for Attendance Allowances you can get a claim pack from the Benefits Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200. There are a number of organisations who might be able to help you complete the pack, including:

Age Concern. Call 020 8765 7200 to find your nearest branch.
Citizens Advice Bureau. Look in the phone book or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Disability Information Advice Lines (DIALs). Call 01302 310 123 or visit www.dialuk.org.uk to find out if there's a DIAL near you.

Independent Advice Centres. Call the UK Advice on 0207 489 1800 for your nearest centre.
There may be someone at your local MS Society branch who can help with form filling. For branch details, telephone the MS National Centre on 020 8438 0700.
MS Help line. The Disability Rights Officer may also be able to help.

Finally, if you have access to the internet, you can print off guides to filling out both the AA and DLA claim packs from www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

Steve Donnison is a freelance welfare benefits trainer and writer . A wide range of free, downloadable, step-by-step guides to claiming disability and incapacity benefits are available from Steve's website at www.benefitsandwork.co.uk
Holiday Whitehead is a practising barrister specialising in employment law and welfare benefits. Details of her employment law training and consultancy services to the voluntary sector can be found at www.holidaywhitehead.co.uk
This article is adapted from one which first appeared in MS Matters, published by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

2003 Steve Donnison and Holiday Whitehead


Disclaimer. The material on this web site is provided for information only and no undertaking is given as to the accuracy of the information on this or any linked site. You should always get individual advice about any legal matter. The employment information on this site relates only to England and Wales. Please read our full disclaimer. Copyright 2004 -05 Steve Donnison All materials on this site are protected by copyright and all rights are reserved.

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