Attendance Allowance is a benefit that is awarded to people over the age of 65 who have a disability or illness that makes it difficult for them to look after themselves.
It is credited with helping older people‘s financial well-being, as well as giving them the capacity to maintain their independence.
It can also help to prevent social isolation.
This is particularly important for many older people living in rural areas, yet the take up of Attendance Allowance is at a lower rate in Northumberland than its neighbouring authorities and the national average.
It is thought that a general lack of awareness and a perceived stigma attached to claiming benefits has led to many older people failing to claim what is rightly theirs.
Compared to other benefits for people with disabilities or illness, Attendance Allowance has had a relatively low profile in recent years.
It was not subject to significant change in the latest period of welfare reform that has attracted much publicity.
The allowance is a cash payment, which is non-means tested and non-contributory.
And it typically does not require applicants and claimants to go through the detailed level of assessment and review that some other benefits do.
You don’t even have to spend your Attendance Allowance on care — it’s entirely up to you how you spend the money.
Who can claim it?
You may be eligible for Attendance Allowance if you:
l Are aged 65 or over.
l Have a long-term physical or mental illness or disability. This can include sight and hearing difficulties.
l Have needed help with personal care or regular supervision from someone else for at least six months. You can claim whether or not you actually receive this help or supervision. Personal care tasks could include things in your daily routine like washing and bathing, dressing and undressing, getting in or out of bed, and taking medication.
l Are in the UK when you make your claim and be habitually resident in the UK.
l Have been in the UK for at least two of the last three years.
l Are not subject to any immigration control.
How much is it worth?
Attendance Allowance is paid at two different rates, depending on the level of care you need.
The lower rate is £55.10 per week if you need care or supervision during the day or night.
The higher rate is £82.30 per week if you need care or supervision during the day and night
Your level of income and savings are not taken into account when deciding if you are eligible for Attendance Allowance.
It is important to stress that the allowance won’t affect your state pension, and you can claim it even if you are still working and earning money.
Attendance Allowance will not reduce any other benefits you receive, such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support.
In some cases, you may find that if you are awarded Attendance Allowance you are entitled to higher rates of these other benefits because of your extra needs.
If you have substantial caring needs, your carer could get Carer’s Allowance.
How to apply for Attendance Allowance
If you want to apply for Attendance Allowance you can download a form at www.gov.uk
Help to complete the form is available online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
You can also ring the Department of Work and Pensions on 0345 605 6055, or you can call Citizens Advice Northumberland on 03444 111 444.
Alternatively, see our opening times for all our offices at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/northumberland
Family, friends and neighbours can also apply for an application pack on your behalf.