BENEFITS EXPERT: Benefits for disabled OAPs

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My aunt is in her eighties and, while not in the best of health, is still able to manage to live by herself in her own home. I have heard there is a benefit that can be paid to elderly disabled people but how disabled do you have to be to get it and what else does it depend upon?

The benefit you appear to have in mind is called Attendance Allowance (AA).

It is payable to people aged 65 and over who are physically or mentally disabled and need help with personal care or supervision to remain safe. It is £55.10 a week for people who need help either during the day or the night, and £82.30 a week for those who need 24-hour care.

You can meet the medical conditions in a wide variety of circumstances but the help needed must come under the heading of either ‘attention’ or ‘supervision’.

Attention means needing help with things like getting out of a chair, bathing and washing, dressing and undressing, medication and treatment, getting in and out of bed, eating and drinking, using the toilet, having someone to help you with problems caused by being visually impaired.

Supervision means the need for a person to be checked up on regularly during the day. A person might need these checks if they have memory loss, are in danger of falling, have poor awareness of potential dangers, have serious behavioural problems or are prone to seizures.

The night time rate will be payable if the person needs to be checked up on to ensure their safety in bed or need help with their personal care.

AA is paid because of the attention or supervision that the person needs.

They do not necessarily have to be receiving that help. People living alone can and do receive AA and certain people on AA may receive more in other benefits because they live alone.

AA is not affected by any other income or savings the person has and it does not depend upon National Insurance contributions.

You do not lose other benefits if you are awarded AA, and you may have other benefits increased.

You can obtain the AA claim form from the Helpline on 0345 605 6055 or downloading from Attendance Allowance – GOV.UK.

Much of the form consists of a series of tick-box questions but you should also make full use of the spaces asking for details of the help you need.

To assist you in completing the form it is a good idea to keep a diary of all the help you need throughout the day, why you need it and for how long.