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Help filling in the Attendance Allowance form

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Filling in the Attendance Allowance form can be difficult - there are some personal questions which can be emotionally draining. Don't worry though - help is available and you don't have to fill in the form alone.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice and ask if they can help you with your form.

The form is long and can take time to fill in so you might need to ask for an appointment if you want help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

You can ask a friend, relative or carer if you'd rather they help you with the form.

If you're terminally ill you'll only need to answer some of the questions. Read more about applying for Attendance Allowance if you're terminally ill.

What you should write about on the form

The Disability and Carers Service will use your form to decide whether to give you Attendance Allowance. They'll be looking to see:

  • what difficulties you have, or how much help you need
  • how often you have difficulties or need help
  • what sort of help you need

You don't have to be getting any help at the moment - the important thing is that you need it. For example, you might need to hold on to furniture to move around your home.

How to answer questions about personal tasks

Questions 27-43 ask about your care needs with personal tasks. It's really important that you use the blank boxes to explain if you:

  • have difficulty or need someone to help you with personal tasks - for example washing, getting out of bed or getting dressed - at least 3 times during the day
  • have difficulty or need someone to supervise you throughout the day to make sure you stay safe - for example to stop you falling or to look after you if you have seizures or blackouts
  • have difficulty or need someone to help you with personal tasks repeatedly (2 or more times) during the night or just once if it's for 20 minutes or more - for example if you need help getting out of bed, going to the toilet or changing the sheets if you have an accident
  • need someone to watch over you or supervise you during the night to make sure you're safe - they need to help you at least 3 times, or just once if it's for 20 minutes or more, for example in case you have a fit while you're asleep, or to stop you falling over if you have to get up

Keep a diary

It's worth keeping a diary of your needs for at least a week before you fill in the form. You can use our diary template [ 99 kb].

The diary can give you a good idea of your 'care needs' - this is the help you need or the difficulty you have to complete personal tasks.

Personal tasks does not mean help with things like housework or gardening or other tasks you might need help with around the home.

Personal tasks means things like:

  • getting in or out of bed
  • having a bath or shower
  • getting dressed
  • being reminded or encouraged to eat or drink

Remember to include any help you need or difficulty you have during the night too.
You should also write on the diary how many times you need help with tasks like getting out of chairs.

If you get help to fill in the form from your nearest Citizens Advice, remember to take your diary with you.

Tips for filling in the form

You should read all these tips before you start filling in your form.

Remember to write about the help you need or the difficulty you have

Remember you don't actually have to be getting any help to get Attendance Allowance - the important thing is that you need it and that you explain why you need it on the form.

Write in the blank boxes

It's really important that you explain the help or supervision you need or the difficulty you have in the blank boxes for Q26-42. Don't just tick the boxes or write how many times you need help or supervision.

Don't expect the person making the decision to know about your condition

The person making a decision on Attendance Allowance won't be a medical expert, so don't assume they'll know about your condition. It's important you give as much information as possible on the form about how much help you need or what difficulties you have. Don't think that any detail is too small to include, for example you should tell them if doing the tasks:

  • is painful for you
  • takes you a long time
  • puts you or someone else in danger
  • makes you feel breathless
  • makes you unsteady

Use an extra sheet of paper if you need to.

Remember to say how many times you need help with tasks

It's really important that you explain how many times you need or get help each day for the 'care needs' questions. You should also explain how many times you have difficulties. For example if you need help or have difficulty getting to and from the toilet, remember to write the total amount for the day. Filling in our diary template [ 99 kb] will help you.

It's fine to repeat yourself in different answers

You might feel like you're repeating some of your answers. It's fine to write about the same thing again if it's relevant to more than one question. For example if you have mobility problems and have difficulty getting to the toilet, you should explain this in Q27: 'Do you usually have difficulty or do you need help with your toilet needs?'. You should also explain you have difficulty getting to the toilet in Q30: 'Do you usually have difficulty or do you need help with moving around indoors?'.

Mention the adaptations you use in the relevant question

You're asked to write down your adaptations and aids in Q25: 'Please list any aids or adaptations you use'. but you should also write about them in the relevant 'care needs' questions. For example if you use a grab rail to get in and out of the shower you should also mention it in Q28: 'Do you usually have difficulty or do you need help with washing, bathing, showering or looking after your appearance?'.

Explain if you have good days and bad days

If your illness or disability means you have good and bad days, try to explain how many of each you have in an average week. Filling in our diary template can help you do this. Explain what help you need or the difficulties you have on a good day and on a bad day.

Explain if tasks take you longer

If you can do some personal tasks on your own but they take you a long time, explain this on the form. It might help if you can compare how long it takes you to a friend or someone else you know who doesn't have your condition.

Example answers for Q26-28

Example answer for Q26: 'Do you usually have difficulty or do you need help getting out of bed in the morning or getting into bed at night?'

James has depression and his wife, Doreen, has to encourage him to get out of bed in the morning.

He writes in the blank box for Q26: 'My depression makes me feel like it's not worth getting out of bed in the morning. On a bad day - about 3 times a week - I'm awake at 4am and can't get back to sleep. I don't want to get up but I don't want to stay in bed either - I just don't want to do anything. Doreen will talk to me and encourage me to get up and tell me what we can do that day if I feel up to it. If Doreen's out visiting a friend I'll just lay there until she comes home as I can't face getting up.

On a good day, Doreen will still need to encourage me to do things like have dinner or go to bed - otherwise I'll just stay up until 3am because I'm worried I won't be able to sleep again and it will make my depression worse."

Example answer for Q27: 'Do you usually have difficulty or do you need help with your toilet needs?'

Judith has dementia and is sometimes incontinent during the night. Her husband, Jeremy helps her.

She writes in the blank box for Q27: "Sometimes I don't realise I need to go to the toilet when I'm asleep and I have an accident. Jeremy sleeps in the same room and knows when it happens as I get upset when I realise. He helps me get out of bed and into the shower. He then helps me put on some clean pyjamas and he changes the sheets. He also puts the washing machine on so that the sheets are clean in the morning and he'll then sit by my bed comforting me until I go back to sleep. All this usually takes about 45 minutes - I don't know what I'd do if Jeremy didn't help me."

Example answer for Q28: 'Do you usually have difficulty or do you need help with washing, bathing, showering or looking after your appearance?'

Sue has arthritis in her knees. She has difficulties showering.

She writes in the blank box for Q28: "I struggle to get in and out of the shower. The last time I did I slipped over and hurt myself. I've got a grab rail to hold while I'm in the shower but I have to get up and down a step to get in and out. I feel unsteady and worry that I'll fall again. Often I just have a wash instead of taking a shower because it takes me such a long time and makes me feel unsafe."

Get someone who knows you to fill in Q48

Q48 on the form asks for a 'statement from someone who knows you'. You don't have to get someone to fill it in but it's best if you do. It can be anyone who knows about your illness or disability and how it affects your ability to do personal tasks.

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