Attendance Allowance. Should you be getting it?
12th June 2020 by Deborah Pearce
Are you familiar with ‘Attendance Allowance’? And do you know who is entitled to receive it?
If the answer is ‘no’, you are not alone.
We have advised many clients over 65 years old who are entitled to this benefit but are unware of what it is or how to claim it.
What is Attendance Allowance?
It is a tax free non means tested benefit payable to people over the age of 65 who have a “need for care”, or in other words, you have needed help with your personal care or tasks in your own home for at least six months even if you don’t currently get that help.
How do I claim?
There is one exceptional circumstance in which you can claim the benefit immediately without having to complete any paperwork personally and that is if, sadly, you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and your life expectancy is six months or less. Your doctor or specialist can complete a DS 1500 form verifying those facts which triggers your entitlement without waiting.
For everyone else, the Attendance Allowance claim form needs to completed and submitted, either by yourself, or a family member who is caring for you.
The form does examine the help you need and although not overly intrusive some of the questions are quite personal.
Below are some of the details the form asks for:-
- The name of your GP and any hospital specialist or department that you visit
- Whether you are undergoing any regular tests or awaiting surgery and a list of any medications you are taking, such as a prescription list.
- Any aids that you use or need to use to help e.g. glasses, hearing aid, walking stick, Zimmer, bathroom aids, stair lift.
- A list of your ailments which can consist of issues surrounding your sight, hearing, eating and drinking.
- Whether you need help with;
- using the toilet, showering or bathing;
- getting in and out of bed;
- dressing or undressing;
- any communication needs i.e. answering the telephone or dealing with correspondence,
- undertaking hobbies or pastimes you can no longer enjoy without assistance from someone
- Whether you have experienced stumbles or falls.
- Needing to be reminded about taking your medication.
There is also a section in which you can explain any other areas in which you need assistance to help you maintain an element of independent living.
The form also asks for someone who knows you well to confirm those details – your carer or the person that helps you out the most would be best. Broadly, we would also recommend asking your GP to confirm those details as they understand your health needs and can provide a recent prescription list to support the medications you are taking.
Understandably, it can be hard for someone to admit that they can no longer do these usual daily tasks, rather believing they can continue to “manage” but in reality they cannot.
People also have a tendency to innocently forget what areas they need help with. For instance, during an appointment, I asked one lady if she had experienced stumbles or falls to which the immediate answer was “no” only for her sister to remind her that she had been found at the bottom of the stairs a few months back having laid there overnight without assistance and ended up being hospitalised for a couple of days having seriously banged her head and damaged her teeth. Her answer was “Oh yes, I forgot that”….
We always advise clients both not to exaggerate or play down their needs, they must be honest with themselves as to what they can, and can’t do, without any assistance.
Completing the Form
Unfortunately, along with most other claim forms, the Attendance Allowance form is a laborious and daunting task to complete at virtually 50 pages long, however in many cases it is worth the effort.
There are currently two rates of payment you may be entitled to;
£59.70 per week if you need help during the day.
£89.15 per week if you need help during the day and night.
Some charitable bodies will assist with completion of such forms free of charge.
If you would like Laceys to assist you with an application, (which can include visiting you at home) it will generally take between 1 – 2 hours maximum and you could expect a fee on average of £350 plus VAT.
However, we would only arrange to complete such a form if we felt quite confident that you would receive the benefit. So although there is an initial cost, you will benefit financially from between £3000 – £4600 per annum depending on the rate you receive. Also, once entitled, you remain so for life as it is practically impossible for your condition to revert to what it was some years before.
In all cases we have helped, we have achieved a 100% success rate in claiming this benefit so please do not delay if you or a relative of yours is entitled – remember the old saying “If you don’t ask you don’t get”. Very, very true.
If you would like any further advice regarding how to claim for Attendance Allowance please contact Deborah Pearce on 01202 755983.