Disability Payments - Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment, and Disability Living Allowance

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.

Attendance Allowance

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: £57.30 (rate from April 2017/18) per week for those who need attention or supervision only during the day or only during the night.
  • Higher rate: £85.60 (rate from April 2017/18) 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 have a physical disability and/or sensory disability such as blindness, or a mental disability and/or a learning disability.
  • Your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own or someone else’s safety.
  • You have needed help for at least six months (special rules apply if you are terminally ill).
  • You must be in Great Britain when you claim (exceptions are made for the Armed Forces and their families).
  • You must have been habitually resident in Great Britain for at least 2 of the last 3 years (exceptions made for refugees or people who have humanitarian protection status).

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 on p4).


Factors that determine if you qualify for AA

The rules for AA can be quite complex.  Several factors are considered 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.


Making a claim

The claim form for AA is long and can be quite daunting.  There are three sections:


  • Section One – asks for your personal details and other basic information.
  • Section Two – asks about how your health condition affects your everyday life.  There are many questions asking about how you manage your personal activities such as washing yourself, dressing, reading, or taking medication.
  • Section Three – asks about the help you need with social or leisure activities.

The claim pack is based on self-assessment. Copies of the claim pack are available on line at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/attendance-allowance-claim-form or a copy can be sent to you by post by contacting the Attendance Allowance Helpline listed below.


Attendance Allowance Unit

Mail Handling Site A


WV98 2AD

Helpline: 0800 731 0122 – open Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm.

Textphone: 0800 731 0317 – open Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm.

If you have speech or hearing difficulties contact the Next Generation Text (NGT) Relay Service by dialling 18001 then 0800 731 0122, there is also a British Sign Language video relay service. Information and the AA form can also be sent to you in large print, braille or on audio CD if you request it.

It is worth sending written evidence from your GP and other health or social care professionals to back up your claim.


Backdating your claim

Attendance Allowance claims are backdated to the date your claim was made. Once you receive the claim form you have 6 weeks to return it to the Attendance Allowance Unit, then there is a short period of time while the claim is assessed. So long as you return the claim form within the 6-week period your claim payments can be backdated.


Special Rules – if you are terminally ill

Claimants who are not expected to live more than six months are able to make a claim under “Special Rules” so that you are able to get AA more quickly. To do this you must:


  • Complete the AA form
  • Include a DS1500 form – you can only get these from a doctor, specialist, or consultant

Claims can be made on behalf of someone else without their permission if necessary.  The letter about money awarded will not mention “special rules”.


Change of circumstances

It is your responsibility to inform the DWP of any change in your circumstances that may affect your eligibility to claim and how much you may receive. For example, you or the person you claim for may need more help, may go into hospital, or may move home or abroad.  Usually your AA will not be affected if you go:


  • Into hospital or a care home for less than 4 weeks
  • Abroad for less than 26 weeks
  • Abroad to get medical treatment for a condition which began before you left


Further Information

All payments of AA will be paid into an account e.g.: your bank, post office or building society account. You may also be entitled to extra Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit if you get AA.

If you are turned down for AA or you are unhappy with the decision about how much you can claim then you can appeal for the decision to be reconsidered, this is called a Mandatory Reconsideration.




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