If you are of pensionable age and have a sight problem you will probably have extra expenses, such as taxis or help at home. Attendance Allowance (AA) can help you with these additional costs.
What is Attendance Allowance?
Attendance Allowance is a non-means-tested benefit for people over pension age. This benefit is for those who need help with personal care because of a disability or health problem and is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
There are two payment levels. The lower rate is for people who need support with personal care, day or night. The higher rate is for those who need support with personal care day and night.
How to qualify
You may qualify for AA if you have had your condition for at least six months and have been present and resident in the UK. If you have been out of the country for periods of longer than four weeks within the last three years may not be entitled to this benefit.
You do not have to be registered as visually impaired to claim AA, but it does help as evidence. Being registered is not a guarantee of qualifying for AA, particularly at partially sight impaired level. You need to cite other conditions too and send as much medical evidence as possible.
You can provide alternative evidence about your sight loss, such as a letter from your consultant or GP.
How do you claim?
The best way to claim is via post. If successful, your claim is backdated to the date of your application. There are services, such as Age UK, to help you fill out the form correctly. You are given six weeks to complete it and it takes 8-10 weeks for your application to be processed.
To get a form, contact the Attendance Allowance helpline: 0800 731 0122
To make a successful claim, everything needs to be related to a bodily function. Think about a typical day or week and consider when you may have difficulty or need help. It can be very helpful for you, or someone close to you, to make a list of all the things that you need help with over a few days. Take going to bed as an example. The description needs to start with deciding to go to bed and ending with you getting into bed. Mention any difficulties experienced along the way.
To qualify for AA you have to show that you need help frequently throughout the day. For example, if you need help looking after your appearance, this could add up to six or seven times a day if you include help to check your clothes are clean after a meal, help to find a coat or matching shoes to go out, and so on.
How to appeal
If your claim is rejected, you do have the option to appeal this decision. Instructions on how to do so will come with the decision letter of your initial claim.
It is best if you do choose to appeal, to get help with this from the relevant services, such as Age UK.