Attendance Allowance for deafblind people

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a tax-free, non means-tested benefit for disabled people who are over 65 and need help to look after themselves. Please note, Attendance Allowance  is only applicable in England and Wales.

AA is paid on top of other benefits and in some cases can help its recipients to qualify for other means-tested benefits or increase benefits they are already receiving. AA is paid at lower or higher rate depending on the amount of help you need.    

Who can qualify for AA?
Disability tests
How to claim
Claim form
Decision on your claim
How is AA paid?
Terminally ill people
Hospitals and care homes
Attendance Allowance and community care
AA and Disability Living Allowance

Who can qualify for AA?

To qualify for the Attendance Allowance you must:

  • Be 65 years old or older
  • Have satisfied disability tests for at least six months before you will be paid AA
  • Normally live in the UK and not be subject to immigration control
  • Be present in the UK for two out of the last three years (this requirement does not apply to people who are terminally ill)

You cannot get AA if you are already receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA)/Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Constant Attendance Allowance with Industrial Injuries, Disablement Benefit or war pension.   

Disability tests

To qualify for the lower component of AA you must meet one of the following disability tests:

Daytime tests – you must need:

  • Frequent attention throughout the day (generally more than twice at different times of the day) in connection with bodily functions. Seeing or hearing are bodily functions 
  • Continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid substantial danger to yourself or others. For example, supervision might be needed to prevent you from falling

Night-time tests – you must need:

  • Prolonged or repeated attention (20 minutes or more at least two times nightly) at night in connection with your bodily functions 
  • Another person to be awake at night for a prolonged period or at frequent intervals to watch over you, to avoid substantial danger to yourself or others

To get Attendance Allowance at a higher rate you have to satisfy one day test and one night test, or be terminally ill.

What matters is the help you need, not necessarily the help you are getting at the moment. 

People can get used to managing without help but this may mean that they do not undertake certain activities - for example, not going out to see relatives or to go shopping because there is no one to help to guide them outside. Or they may not take a bath because they cannot get in or out of the bath by themselves.

Sometimes it might take them much longer to do things - for example, they can try and read labels themselves, sometimes with the use of magnifiers, but it will take a lot of time. There are also situations where people do something without help, but with some extra help they would be less at risk - for example, when crossing roads or managing hot pans.

All situations like this should be considered as they show that although a person can manage, they would be better off with some extra help. 

How to claim

You can claim the Attendance Allowance in a number of ways:

  • By phoning the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Benefits Enquiry Line on 0345 605 6055 and asking them to send you a claim pack. If AA is awarded, it will start from the date of this phone call, as long as you return the form within six weeks. You can ask for the form in large print
  • By printing a form from the website and filling it in. If you apply this way, your claim will only start from the date your completed form is received by the DWP
  • You can also claim online via the Department of Work and Pensions website

Claim form

When filling in the claim form, think of all the instances when you needed help because you couldn’t see or hear. Even if these are little things, they usually add up. Examples could include help you need to:

  • Take medicine
  • Read labels, newspapers or personal mail
  • Communicate with others in person or over the phone
  • Write letters and fill in forms
  • Guide you when going out
  • Check on your appearance
  • Locate things in the house or outside

It is always a good idea to keep a record, over several days, of all the times when you have needed help. Alternatively you can just think of your typical day and try to remember when you needed help because you couldn’t see or hear something.

There is a section in the form which allows someone who knows you to give their account of your needs. This section is optional, but it is always useful to have someone to fill it in. This could be someone who looks after you or someone who knows you well, your social worker or even your doctor. 

Where possible you should send other supporting evidence with your claim form, such as a certificate of vision impairment, results of your audiology tests, a letter from your GP or a social worker.    

Decision on your claim

You will be informed about the decision on your claim in writing. Depending on your circumstances AA can be awarded for a fixed period or indefinitely. If you are awarded AA for a fixed period, you will be sent a claim form to renew your award several months before your award ends.

If you are not happy with the decision, you will have one month from the date of the decision to ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision. This means that another decision-maker will look at your claim again. A mandatory reconsideration can be requested in writing or on the phone, although we would recommend doing it in writing.

The appeal has to be made in writing. You can either complete the form on a GL24 leaflet (external link) or write the appeal yourself.

How is AA paid?

Attendance Allowance is usually paid directly to your bank account. It is usually paid every four weeks in arrears. If you are receiving other social security benefits, such as a state pension or pension credit, AA can be combined with those in one payment. You can spend AA as you wish.  To find out the current AA rates visit the website

Terminally ill people

A person is considered terminally ill if they have a progressive illness that is likely to limit life expectancy to six months or less. People who are terminally ill don’t have to satisfy disability tests for six months before claiming AA, they can claim straight away. The claim is dealt with under special rules, which make the application process quicker and more straightforward.

These rules don’t require you to specify how much care you need. If you are terminally ill, you will automatically be entitled to a higher rate of AA. In order to make a claim under these rules you have to ask your doctor for a medical report, called a DS1500 report and send it together with the claim form.

The claim does not necessarily have to be made by the person concerned; someone else could do it on their behalf.

Hospitals and care homes

Attendance Allowance is affected if you stay in an NHS hospital or live in a care home.  If you already receive AA, it will stop after you have been in a hospital for 28 days. The day you are admitted to hospital and the day you are released from hospital will not count towards your 28 days allowance.

If you are not already receiving AA, you cannot start receiving it while you are in hospital.  However, you still can make a claim, so you can start to receive AA when you return home.

If you go to a hospital often you need to count the days you spend there carefully. If you are readmitted to hospital after being home for less than 28 days, these two stays will be linked and the days in hospital will be added together.

After you’ve spent a total of 28 days in hospital you will stop receiving Attendance Allowance for further days in hospital, but you still will be paid for days you spend at home. If you spend more than 28 days at home, you will break the link and will start receiving AA for days in hospital again.

The same rules apply to those people in care homes who are funded by their local authority. Those people who are self-funding continue receiving AA while in a care home. If you are receiving funding from NHS continuing care, you are treated as being in hospital even if you are living at home or in a care home.   

Attendance Allowance and community care

Local authorities can take your AA into account when calculating how much you should contribute towards your social care support. There are specific rules which local authorities have to follow when undertaking a financial assessment for the purpose of charging. You can find out more on our webpage on social care assessments.

AA and Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment

If you were receiving DLA or PIP before your 65th birthday you will continue to receive it as you did before until its end date provided that you still meet the entitlement conditions. If you were under 65 on 8 April 2013 and you are entitled to DLA or your entitlement to DLA ended less than one year ago you can claim PIP (rather than AA) regardless of your age.

For help and advice, contact the Sense Information and Advice Service.


First published: Tuesday 22 May 2012
Updated: Wednesday 30 November 2016