Attendance allowance - benefits for older people | SavvyWoman

Understanding state benefits such as attendance allowance that elderly people who are ill or disabled can claim

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If your parent develops a serious illness, such as dementia or cancer, the financial consequences will probably be the last thing on your mind. But elderly people who are ill or have a health condition may be entitled to attendance allowance. It’s a non means-tested benefit and it could make a big difference to your income.

Benefits for people with an illness or disability

There are several different benefits that someone who suffers from an illness or disability may be able to claim. But the most important are:

Attendance Allowance

This benefit is available to anyone who’s aged 65 or over. It’s not means tested, it’s tax free. And it may mean they’re eligible for other benefits, such as the pension credit.

Attendance Allowance is paid at two different rates:

  • £87.65 a week (in tax year 2019-20) at the higher rate; which is payable if someone needs care or supervision during both the day and night.
  • £58.70 a week at the lower rate; payable if someone needs care or supervision during the day or night.

Who gets attendance allowance

Despite its name, you don’t need have any professional help ‘attending’ to you to be eligible for the benefit. You qualify for attendance allowance if you need help with a range of tasks or supervision. This can be either for your own safety or someone else’s.

This can be things like needing help remembering to take tablets or to open your pill packs. Or it can be with eating meals (actually eating the food or remembering to have regular meals). It might sound like you’d have to be pretty incapacitated, but that’s not the case and even if you need relatively moderate help, you should definitely apply.

Claiming attendance allowance

You can claim attendance allowance by filling in a form online and printing it off, or by printing off a form, filling it in by pen and sending it back. The form is quite long (between 33 and 47 pages) so if you think you’ll find it difficult you may be able to ask someone to help you. You can find both versions of the Attendance Allowance claim form on the website.

SAVVY TIP: Contact Citizens Advice, your nearest branch of the Alzheimer’s Society or Age UK if you aren’t clear how to fill in the form.

Disability Living Allowance

This is payable to those under the age of 65.

SAVVY TIP: Disability Living Allowance is gradually being replaced by PIP or the personal independence payment. The government has carried out a trial and will gradually roll out its introduction, starting with new claimants aged up to 64.

Unlike attendance allowance, DLA is made up of two components:

  • Care component; which is paid if you need help caring for yourself or need supervision to keep you safe. There are three different levels of DLA that you may qualify for (lowest, middle and highest rate) depending on how much care and supervision you need.
  • Mobility component; which is paid if you have severe problems with walking. If you need guidance moving or help walking outdoors, you’ll probably be entitled to the lower rate but if you also have more severe difficulties, you could qualify for the higher rate.

SAVVY TIP: If you are eligible for disability living allowance before you’re aged 65, you’re able to carry on claiming it after your 65th birthday. It’s useful if you qualify for the mobility component because attendance allowance doesn’t include a payment for mobility needs.

Further information

There’s information about disability living allowance on the government’s website and a guide to Disability Living Allowance on the Citizens Advice website.

SAVVY TIP: At the time of writing, adults in Northern Ireland are also able to claim DLA.

Useful links:

There’s information about the basics of attendance allowance on the website and information about who can claim state benefits on Age UK’s website.

Related articles:

Can you give away your home to avoid paying care fees?

Personal independence payment (PIP) – how does it work and how much fo you get

Arranging care at home for an elderly relative

Setting up a lasting power of attorney

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