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Check if you're entitled to Attendance Allowance

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Eligibility and descriptors

This page outlines the basic Attendance Allowance eligibility for a client who has supervision and care needs because of an illness or disability, or has difficulties with personal tasks. Clients should be encouraged to apply if they meet the eligibility on this page.

Attendance Allowance doesn't have 'descriptors' in the same way that PIP does. To get Attendance Allowance, clients have to meet the Department for Communities' 'disability test'.

Attendance Allowance is paid at two rates. The lower rate is paid if your client has daytime needs, the higher rate is paid if if they have night-time needs.

To satisfy the disability conditions for Attendance Allowance, a person must need:

  • attention from another person or
  • supervision from another person or
  • another person to watch over them

The day condition is satisfied if a person is so severely disabled physically or mentally that, they require from another person:

  • frequent attention throughout the day in connection with bodily functions, or
  • continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid substantial danger to themselves or others

The night condition is satisfied if a person is so severely disabled physically or mentally that, at night they require:

  • prolonged or repeated attention in connection with bodily functions from another person or
  • another person to be awake for a prolonged period or at frequent intervals for the purpose of watching over them in order to avoid substantial danger to themselves or others

If you need more detailed information about eligibility, you can read the Department for Communities' decision makers' guide for Attendance Allowance .

You need to be 65 or over to claim Attendance Allowance. You also need to have physical or mental difficulties that makes it hard for you to look after yourself.

You could get £55.65 or £83.10 a week to spend however you like. The amount you get will depend on how much help you need. It could help you stay independent in your own home for longer.

Who can claim

You should apply for Attendance Allowance if you have a disability or illness and need help or supervision throughout the day or at times during the night (even if you don't currently get that help):

  • with your personal care - for example getting dressed, eating or drinking, getting in and out of bed, bathing or showering and going to the toilet
  • to stay safe

You should also apply if you have difficulties with personal tasks, for example if they take you a long time, you experience pain or you need physical help, like a chair to lean on. It might help if you compare how you do the personal tasks now to how you used to do them.

Attendance Allowance isn't just for people with a physical disability or illness. You should also claim if you need help or supervision throughout the day or night and have:

  • a mental health condition
  • learning difficulties
  • a sensory condition - for example if you're deaf or blind

Special rules apply if you're terminally ill. Read more about claiming Attendance Allowance if you're terminally ill.

The 6-month rule

You must have had care or supervision needs because of your disability or illness, or increased difficulty with personal tasks, for at least 6 months before you can get Attendance Allowance.

You don't need to have had a diagnosis for your condition to apply for Attendance Allowance. For example, you might still be having tests or appointments to find out what's wrong with you. As long as you've needed help or supervision, or you've had difficulties, for 6 months because of your condition you can claim Attendance Allowance.

You can save time with your claim by applying before the end of the 6 months but you won't get any money until then.

If you're in hospital

You can apply for Attendance Allowance if you're currently in hospital and your care is paid for by your local Trust. You can still claim Attendance Allowance if you pay for all your care home costs yourself.

If you're living in a care home

You can't usually claim Attendance Allowance if you live in a care home. There are exceptions, for example if you pay for all your care home costs yourself.

If you're living in a hospice

You can get Attendance Allowance if you're terminally ill and living in a hospice.
Read more about how to claim Attendance Allowance if you have a terminal illness.

If you're not from the UK

If you're not a UK citizen, you should check the eligibility rules. Your immigration status could be affected if you apply for benefits when you're not eligible.

You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

If you're an EEA national living in Northern Ireland , you'll need to meet the habitual residence test.

You normally can't apply if you're subject to immigration control, for example if you need a visa to live or work in the UK, or you have a visa that says "no recourse to public funds". But you might be able to apply if you've spent time living in another EEA country - it's best to contact your nearest Citizens Advice or call the Disability and Carers Service to check.

Disability and Carers Service
Telephone: 0300 123 3356
Textphone: 028 9031 1092

If you've lived outside the UK

Regardless of what your immigration status is, you must have lived in the UK for at least 104 weeks out of the last 156 to claim Attendance Allowance. These don't need to be consecutive weeks - as long as you've lived in the UK for any 104 weeks out of the last 156 it will count. This works out as 2 years out of the last 3.

You might be able to apply if you've spent time living in another EEA country - it's best to contact your nearest Citizens Advice or call the Disability and Carers Service to check.

If you're terminally ill, a refugee or immediate family member of a refugee, it doesn't matter how long you've lived in the UK - you can apply straight away.

Read more about applying for Attendance Allowance if you're terminally ill.

If you haven't lived in the country for 2 years

If you haven’t lived in the UK for 2 of the last 3 years you might still qualify if you’ve lived in another EEA country for some of that time. Time spent in other EEA countries can sometimes count towards the 2-year rule.

You could also qualify if you've lived in another EEA country but are now habitually resident in the UK with a link to the UK social security system.

The rules in this area are complicated and it’s best to get advice before you apply. Contact your local Citizens Advice for help.

Being habitually resident

You might be habitually resident in the UK if you’ve returned to the UK with the intention to stay for the foreseeable future. For example, you’ve registered with your local doctor, moved your bank accounts to the UK, joined clubs and societies, or given up ties to your life in the other country.

Check if you’re habitually resident.

You might have a link to the UK social security system if:

  • you’ve spent a significant part of your life in the UK

  • you’ve worked and paid National Insurance in the UK

  • you’re dependent on a family member who has worked and paid National Insurance in the UK

You might also have a link if you (or a family member you depend on) get any of these benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (contribution based)

  • Employment and Support Allowance (contribution based)

  • Bereavement Payment or Allowance

  • State Pension

  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance

  • Incapacity Benefit

  • Widow's Pension

  • Widowed Mother’s Allowance

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