Attendance allowance pitfalls are common, but they should not put you off applying for this vital benefit if you are entitled to.
Attendance allowance is a benefit for people over state pension age with an illness or disability.
It covers those extra costs associated with care that could help you live more independently at home.
This article will cover attendance allowance pitfalls and the main mistakes people make when claiming this benefit.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:
- Attendance allowance is a benefit that helps pay for care costs so that you can live independently after state pension age.
- To receive it, you must have an illness or disability that you’ve needed support with for at least 6 months.
- There are a few attendance allowance pitfalls that cause the most common mistakes when applying.
- If you make a mistake when applying, your claim may be rejected.
What is attendance allowance?
Attendance allowance is a benefit provided in the UK for people over state pension age who have an illness or disability.
It can help with paying for home care during the day or night, plus equipment or services that support independent living.
You don’t have to be already receiving care to apply, it’s based on what support you might need.
Here’s more information on how to claim attendance allowance.
Confused about care funding?
How much can you get?
How much you get from attendance allowance depends on the level of care you could benefit from.
If you have lower care needs, you could receive the lower rate of £61.85 a week.
Those with greater care needs can get up to £92.40 a week in attendance allowance.
What can you spend it on?
You can spend your attendance allowance on things that help you live a better, more independent life.
This includes carer visits, home adaptations, or care products and equipment.
But the allowance doesn’t always have to involve paying for care products and services.
Instead, you could use attendance allowance to help pay for taxis, bills or household help, such as a cleaner.
What are the attendance allowance pitfalls?
Attendance allowance is a useful benefit that allows people to access the right support and live independently.
This support with costs can make a huge difference to someone’s happiness, health and care.
As with anything, there are a number of pros and cons associated with attendance allowance.
Let’s see what they are.
Pros of attendance allowance
- Not means-tested
- Help with care costs
- Increases some other benefits
Pitfalls of attendance allowance
- 58% claim rejection rate
- 6 months before you can make a claim about a certain condition you need help with
- Lengthy application form
- Annual review meaning you have to reapply
Now let’s have a look at some of the attendance allowance pitfalls and how they can be avoided.
One of the biggest attendance allowance pitfalls is the high rejection rate of claims.
Currently at 58%, this rate suggests that a lot of people make mistakes in their application, even if they are technically eligible.
Needing support for 6 months until you can apply
If you haven’t needed help with a condition for at least 6 months, you won’t be eligible for attendance allowance.
This is one of the big attendance allowance pitfalls, as it means you have to struggle for a time without any support.
There is an exception to this rule in the case of terminal illness, by which you can get attendance allowance immediately.
Complicated application form
For many people the 30 page application form is a real attendance allowance pitfall.
Some people have problems filling out the form and understanding the questions and can’t express their needs.
You also have to send the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) a copy of the form by post, which can also take a long time.
Confused about care funding?
What are the most common mistakes people make?
The process of claiming attendance allowance involves understanding your care needs and filling out a form.
It’s a good idea to get all the information and details of your care needs together before you start your claim.
Mistakes are easy to make, but can be avoided, which is better for you and reduces the risk of having your claim rejected.
So read on to discover the most common mistakes people make when claiming attendance allowance.
Not knowing what you can claim
If you have a physical or mental illness or disability and are over the state pension age you may be eligible to claim.
Apart from in the case of terminal illness, you must have needed help for six months to claim the allowance.
Your level of need will help determine if you get the higher or lower rate, so you don’t need to specify any costs.
Downplaying the effects of an illness or disability on daily life
Attendance allowance is based on the level of help you feel you need, not what you currently get.
If your illness or disability affects your daily life, you might benefit from extra care or support.
This could be paid for through an attendance allowance payment, so don’t downplay your needs if you are struggling.
Not applying at all
If you are over state pension age and have an illness or disability it would be a big mistake not to apply for attendance allowance.
Some people are put off by the application process, or worried about their care needs.
But this shouldn’t be the case.
Age UK provides support with the application process, should you need it.
Missing or attaching wrong information and documentation
When sending your application to the DWP you need to answer some personal questions about your care needs.
You also need to provide evidence of these health claims such as a doctor’s note or prescriptions.
If you fail to provide this information, or do so incorrectly, your claim could be rejected.
Thinking you won’t qualify financially
Attendance Allowance is not a means-tested benefit.
Therefore you don’t have to meet any financial criteria to apply.
It doesn’t matter if you have an income or retirement savings, plus it is tax-free.
Receiving the allowance won’t reduce the money you get from other benefits or affect your pension either.
Confused about care funding?
Not knowing what you need
If you don’t already receive support and are not sure what you need help with, talk to your friends, family or doctor.
They may be able to help you identify areas where you need help which you can claim.
It may also be a good idea to get a care needs assessment done by your local authority to establish your needs.
Not updating your care needs
If your circumstances change, the amount you get from attendance allowance may increase or decrease.
Contact the attendance allowance helpline if the level of help you need or your condition changes.
Similarly, if you go into hospital or a care home you must tell the DWP as it may affect your eligibility.
What happens if you make a mistake in your claim?
If you make a mistake when completing your attendance allowance form, the claim may be rejected.
This could be because your care needs don’t meet the criteria, or you can’t prove that they do.
If you give the wrong information or don’t update your care needs, you may get an overpayment.
This is when you receive more money than you are eligible for.
In this case, you may have to repay the money, which could cause a strain on finances.
Does attendance allowance affect other benefits?
Some financial benefits for elderly can increase if you get attendance allowance, including:
- Extra Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit Reduction
- Council Tax Reduction
Plus if you receive attendance allowance you may get a disabled railcard and be able to apply for a blue parking badge.
Please note that you cannot receive attendance allowance in conjunction with some benefits including:
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
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