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How to claim Attendance Allowance

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You might get Attendance Allowance if you're 65 or over and have physical or mental difficulties that make it harder for you to look after yourself. You need to have had your illness or disability for at least 6 months before you'll get Attendance Allowance.

You don't need to have had a formal diagnosis to claim 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 also claim Attendance Allowance if you live on your own - it's based on the help you need, rather than the help you are already getting.

If you get Attendance Allowance, you can spend the money however you like - it could help you stay independent in your own home for longer.

Applying for someone else

If you're applying for someone who's terminally ill

There are special rules if the person you're applying for is terminally ill. Read about how to claim Attendance Allowance if you have a terminal illness.

You might need to apply for Attendance Allowance for someone else, for example if they're too ill to fill in the form or if they don't have the 'mental capacity'. This means they're unable to make decisions.

It's okay to fill in the form for someone if they can sign it themselves.

If they can't sign the form you'll need to have the legal right to do it for them. You can sign the form for them if you:

  • are an appointee 
  • have power of attorney

Get permission to apply for someone else

You'll need to get the legal right if you want to apply for Attendance Allowance on behalf of someone who can't sign the form themselves.

It can take a while to get this permission so it's best to do this as soon as possible so you don't delay the Attendance Allowance claim.

If you just want to sort out someone's benefits: become an appointee

An appointee has the legal right to sort out someone's benefits for them. This includes spending the money in a way that helps the claimant and being responsible for reporting any changes, for example if they go into hospital.

Read more about how to become an appointee.

If you want to make decisions about benefits and other things: get power of attorney

You'll be able to make decisions for someone or help them make their own decisions if you have an enduring power of attorney (EPA). The person who wants you to be their attorney must be able to make their own decisions when they apply.

Read more about how to get power of attorney.

1. Phone for an application form

Phone the Disability and Carers Service and ask them to send you an Attendance Allowance claim pack. It's a quick call - you just need to give your name and address.

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

Your payments will be backdated to the date you phoned if you send the form back within 6 weeks. If you send it after 6 weeks, your payments will only be backdated to when the Disability and Carers Service gets the form.

It's best to phone - if you download an application form from yourself, your payments will only be backdated to when the Disability and Carers Service receives the form.

Keeping a diary

It's a good idea to keep a diary [ 99 kb] of your condition for at least a week before you fill in the form - particularly if you have bad days and good days. Write down your difficulties, the care or supervision you need and how long it took.

The diary will help you when you answer questions on the form. You can also send it with the form to support your claim.

2. Fill in the application form

The form can be confusing and difficult to understand - filling it in can also be emotionally difficult and time-consuming.

You don't have to go through it alone - read our advice on help with filling in the Attendance Allowance form.

3. Send your application form

It's a good idea to make a copy of your filled-in application form and any other documents you send. This will be useful in case you need to refer to them later, for example if you need to reapply for Attendance Allowance after a few years.

Send the form to:

Disability and Carers Service
Castle Court
Royal Avenue

If you're waiting for something like a letter from your doctor, you should still send the form before the 6 week deadline. Include a letter saying you'll send more evidence and give them an approximate date for when you'll send it. If you send the form late you'll only get paid from when the Disability and Carers Service receives it.

After you've sent your form

You'll normally get a 'decision letter' from the Disability and Carers Service within 25 working days (about 5 weeks) - this will tell you whether or not you'll get Attendance Allowance. It will also tell you how much you'll get and how long your Attendance Allowance will last for.

If you're terminally ill you'll get your decision letter within 4 working days. You'll be awarded the higher rate of Attendance Allowance for 3 years.

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