Could you claim attendance allowance?

Pic: Shutterstock / Lisa S.

As we age, everyday tasks can prove more difficult, but many are unaware of the help available for those unable to properly look after themselves, either because of physical or mental illness or disability. Attendance allowance could make a big difference, so if you are struggling to cope, here's what you need to know.

Who is eligible?
If physical or mental illness, or disability mean your ability to stay safe or look after your personal care is affected, you may be eligible for attendance allowance.

Those over 65, those that would benefit from help with personal care or safety during the day or night, anyone with a disability or impairment that may cause them to be unsafe, or those that have required help for at least six months due to a long-term illness may all be eligible. It may be that you require a carer or not - the allowance is based on the assistance you need and you can spend it in whichever way helps you stay independent at home.

The 2014-15 rates are £54.45 if you require help either during the day or at night, and £81.30 if you require full-time care. It is tax free and will not affect any other benefits you receive, but could mean you are entitled to pension credit, housing benefit or a reduction in your council tax bill.

How to claim
Claim forms for attendance allowance are available online at allowance, or you can call 0845 605 6055 and have one sent to you. Regardless of the reason for your needs, it is important that you clearly describe how your illness or disability affects your day-to-day life.

Details of any accidents or falls, things that you struggle to do without help, or safely, and the effects of your illness or disability are essential if you are to put in a successful claim. Be sure to describe how frequently you need help, whether that be with medical assistance or simple day-to-day tasks such as dressing or washing, even communicating with others. If you need someone to supervise in case of a fall, seizure, long-term health condition or dementia, be clear about these. Unfortunately difficulties with housework, cooking or shopping are rarely taken into account.

Should your application be rejected, it may be that you have not been clear enough about your needs, but you may be able to appeal the decision. If you need help filling out the form, contact Age UK who may be able to help. The same applies if your initial claim was turned down but your circumstances have changed.

Remember, attendance allowance is not means tested so any savings or earnings will not be taken into account, neither does it mean you will automatically have a carer coming to your home if you don't wish. It could simply be a case of improvements to the home or equipment that help you stay independent, so if you are struggling with any of the above and need further advice, contact Age UK free on 0800 169 65 65.

Do you claim attendance allowance? What advice would you give to others? Leave your comments below...
Taking Care of Yourself With In-Home Care