Many people who pay for their own care costs in full are not aware that they are likely to be eligible for this non-means-tested state benefit. Nicky Cave is a Care Fees Adviser and Managing Director of Eldercare Solutions Ltd and is an Advisory Board member of the Society of Later Life Advisers.
What is Attendance Allowance?
It is a tax-free payment available to people who would benefit from being looked after during the day or being supervised overnight. It can be claimed by anyone over 65 years of age who meets the eligibility criteria (having a physical disability, a mental disability or both) and who is habitually resident in the UK. How much income you receive and what you have in savings won’t affect what you get.
You don’t have to have someone caring for you in order to claim – as long as you are considered to be in a position where you would benefit from such support, you can make a claim.
You can’t get it if you already get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or if you live in a care home and have your care paid for by the Local Authority.
How much is it?
It is paid at two different rates and the rate you qualify for depends on when you need the care or support and not how much care and support you need. The lower rate is £68.10 per week*, payable when there is a daytime or night-time need, and the higher rate is £101.75 per week*, payable when the need is during both the day and the night or if you are terminally ill.
You must have had a need (for support) for at least six months and expect to have a need for at least another six months before the money will be paid to you, although this is not the case if you are terminally ill and can claim under ‘special rules’.
If you are already receiving the lower rate of Attendance Allowance for a daytime need, but your needs change and you require care or supervision at night and this is repeated/frequent (twice or more) and/or for a prolonged period (more than 20 minutes) then you can apply to be upgraded to the higher rate although this is again subject to the six-month qualifying period.
How do I make a claim?
You can request a claim form by calling the Attendance Allowance helpline or you can download a claim form from the Government Website. It is quite a simple but lengthy form and it does come with notes telling you how to fill it in. In most areas Age UK offer an advocacy service to assist you with your application although you may have to pay for this.
Claims usually take around 40 working days to process, but payment can be backdated to the date that the claim form was received or the date you call the enquiry line (if you return the claim pack within six weeks). The benefit is paid in the same way as your state pension, i.e. directly into your bank account every four weeks.
There are some helpful tips on what to include within the application form on Age UK’s website.
For more information on all aspects of financing a stay in a care home, please visit www.eldercaregroup.co.uk where you can download a free copy of our Guide ‘Paying for Care’ or call us for a chat on 0800 082 1155.