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The purpose of this factsheet is to advise the reader about the criteria for claiming Attendance Allowance (AA - for adults aged 65 and over), and Personal Independence Payment (PIP - for adults aged up to 64). The factsheet also contains details of the transition process taking place nationally affecting current claimants of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) aged 16 - 64 as they transfer to PIP, and details of DLA criteria for children under 16yrs of age.

What is AA?

This is a tax-free benefit paid to people aged over 65 who have a long term illness or disability and need help or attention with personal care, or need supervision to remain safe.
• Attention: Help required from another person to fulfil certain personal care needs.  Personal care implies tasks of a close personal nature, i.e.: dressing, bathing, or taking medication.  It can also include help with communication, seeing, hearing etc.
• Supervision: someone needed to be on hand to ensure that you are safe.  This is applicable if someone is having unpredictable falls, fits, or has impaired mental capacity.

There are two rates of AA as follows:

  • Lower rate: £55.10 (rate from April 2015/16) per week for those who need attention or supervision only during the day or only during the night.

  • Higher rate: £82.30 (rate from April 2015/16) per week for those who need attention or supervision during the day and the night.

You do not actually need to be receiving any help to be able to claim AA.  It is the help that you need that is relevant, not what you get, AA is designed to enable you to provide help relevant to your needs.  You can claim AA even if you live alone; you do not need to have a carer.  AA is not means tested, there are no national insurance contribution tests, and it is paid in addition to other money benefits in most cases.

Do you qualify?

To claim AA you must meet the following conditions:

  • You are aged 65 or over

  • You are a permanent resident of Great Britain and are present within Great Britain throughout any 24 hour day.

  • You have needed help for at least 6 months (there are special rules for people with a terminal illness to help them get AA quicker and easier, and special rules for kidney patients to be able to claim at the lower rate).

AA is not affected by any savings or income you may have, but the fact that you are claiming AA may affect some means tested local authority services or local authority funded care in a care home.  You won’t usually need a medical examination when you claim AA but your GP or another professional involved in your care will be asked to confirm your suitability to claim. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) may send you a letter asking you to attend an assessment to check your eligibility, if so the letter will explain why and where you must go.  At the assessment you will be asked for identification. You can use your passport or any three of the following:

  • Birth certificate

  • A full driving licence

  • Life assurance policy

  • Bank statements

If you go into hospital or some types of care home AA will stop after 4 weeks therefore you must inform the DWP (see Change of Circumstances).

Factors that determine if you qualify for AA

The rules for AA can be quite complex.  A number of factors are taken into account when the assessment for your claim is made. Documentary evidence from your GP or other Health or Social Care professionals may prove beneficial to your claim.

These include:

  • The kind of attention that is required.

  • How often that attention is needed.

  • What risks may be present that require supervision.

For the lower rate of allowance (day time needs) the applicant would need to show either:

  • Attention is required ‘frequently throughout the day’.
    • Supervision would be required on a continual basis.

In sum, to qualify you would have to demonstrate that you needed help with personal care several times throughout the day rather than just once in the morning.

Here are some examples of the kind of needs and difficulties which could be counted towards qualifying for AA:

  • You need help with dressing, getting to/from the toilet, getting in/out of bed, moving around indoors, help with medical treatment, and help with meal preparation.

  • You have a need for someone to keep an eye on you due to fits, dizzy spells, blackouts, frequent falls or stumbles, or problems communicating.

  • You have difficulty concentrating, need someone to remind you or motivate to do things, feel panicky or anxious if you try to do things alone.

  • Experience problems when you are in bed, turning over, settling, staying in bed, being propped up, getting into position to sleep, getting the bedclothes back on if they fall off.

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