Campaigners are concerned that many people over pension age who need help to live their lives safely and comfortably do not claim the extra money they are entitled to.
The benefit is called Attendance Allowance and is worth up to £89.60 a week. It’s paid to people who need care from someone else due to a severe physical or mental disability. It doesn’t actually matter whether they receive help (though they normally do, of course). Nor does it matter who provides it – the council, a paid person, or a relative or spouse. It is paid when the help has been needed for six months, but can be claimed before that.
There are different qualifying rules for help in the day and night.
Day: You need help throughout the day – for example with eating, washing, dressing, seeing, hearing, or using the toilet. You also qualify if you need constant supervision.
Night: You need prolonged or repeated help and/or supervision. For example, you may need to use the toilet frequently, or you may need someone to watch over you.
You will receive the lower rate of Attendance Allowance, £60 a week, if you qualify by day or night. If you need help both day and night, you
get the higher rate of £89.60. Attendance Allowance is tax-free and not means-tested – you can get it regardless of your income or savings – and other benefits you already receive may increase once you get it, too. The person looking after you could also get Carer’s Allowance of £67.60 a week.
About one in nine pensioners get Attendance Allowance. But that figure has been falling – 12 years ago it was one in six – so there may be many more who are eligible.
For more information, go to independentage.org and search for “Attendance Allowance”, or call 0800 319 6789; you can also search gov.uk for it, too, or call 0800 731 0122 (in Northern Ireland, 0800 587 0912).
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in this column.