Attendance Allowance

I was consulted recently by a client whose elderly mother lives in her own home but needs daily help with some activities such as dressing. My client was not aware that her mother might be entitled to receive Attendance Allowance which is a non-taxable, non means-tested benefit.

To be eligible for Attendance Allowance, the claimant must:

  1. be aged 65 years or more;
  2. be ordinarily resident in Great Britain (and be a British national or satisfy certain other requirements relating to nationality); and
  3. be living with a disability for at least 6 months and the disability is expected to last for at least another 6 months (these periods do not apply if the patient is terminally ill, in which case Attendance Allowance is available immediately).

Attendance Allowance is payable at two rates:

  • The lower rate (currently £ 55.10) is paid to individuals who need attention or supervision either by day or night.
  • The higher rate (currently £82.30) is paid to individuals who need attention both day and night, as well as to those who are terminally ill.

'Attention' means actual physical help to do something, rather than simply keeping a passive eye on someone.  It could also include prompting or encouraging the individual to perform an activity such as washing or dressing.

'Supervision' means keeping an eye on the individual and being ready to intervene to reduce risk of harm.

Attendance Allowance will not be paid for any period when an individual is a patient in an NHS hospital or is in receipt of local authority funded care in a care home for more than 28 days.  Attendance Allowance is paid to those who are self-funding their care home accommodation.

The benefit can be awarded for a fixed period or an indefinite period, so long as the eligibility criteria continue to be met.

Being awarded Attendance Allowance could make a significant difference to an individual who needs help at home and for self-funders living in care homes.

Carer's Allowance

On the other side of the coin, if you are the relative or friend of an individual assisting with their care needs and you are unable to work full time as a result, you may be entitled to financial support in the form of Carer's Allowance, which is another non–means-tested benefit.

To qualify you don't need to live with or be related to the person you are caring for.  You need:-

  1. to be aged 16 or over;
  2. spend at least 35 hours per week providing care;
  3. not be in full time education or studying for more than 21 hours a week; and
  4. not earning more than £110 per week. 

The individual being cared for must receive a certain level of Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payments.

Although not a means-tested benefit, Carer’s Allowance is taxable and could impact on other benefits and so advice should be sought before applying for it. Carer's Allowance is currently paid at a rate of £61.20 per week and where more than one person provides care for the same person, only one of them can claim Carer’s Allowance.

Carer’s Credit

Carer’s Credit provides national insurance credits with the result that it can increase an unpaid carer’s state pension entitlement by up to £200 per annum.

If an individual already receives Carer’s Allowance they don’t need to apply for Carer’s Credit as they will automatically qualify for and receive national insurance credits. If they’re not entitled to Carer’s Allowance, they may still be able to claim Carer’s Credit.

As with Carer's Allowance the claimant must be aged 16 years or over but need only act as a carer for 20 or more hours per week. That time could be spent caring for one person or a number of different people and the carer may still be entitled to receive Carer’s Credit even if the individual receiving care doesn’t qualify for health related benefits

As with Carer's Allowance, Carer’s Credit is not means-tested, but the increased state pension is taxable and receipt of Carer's Credit could affect entitlement to other benefits.