Disability benefits

If you’re living with dementia, you may be entitled to a disability benefit. This page explains what you may be entitled to.

If you’re living with dementia, you may be entitled to a disability benefit. These include:

  • Attendance allowance (AA)
  • Personal independence payment (PIP)
  • Disability living allowance (DLA).

However, people with dementia don’t automatically qualify for these – because tests are required to determine the level of need. If you do qualify, these benefits provide extra help to deal with the practical effects of a disability such as needing help with personal care or supervision to stay safe during the day or night.

These benefits are not means-tested and payment is not affected by your savings or income. They are tax free and do not depend on National insurance contributions. Disability benefits are paid at different rates, depending on your needs. They can be claimed whether or not you work, and whether you live alone or with other people. For some benefits a medical assessment may be required.

Up until November 2018, PIP was for people aged 16–64 and AA was for those aged 65 or over. However, as pension age is now increasing in stages to 66 by the year 2020, the new cut-off point is each person’s own pension age. For more information see the gov.uk website.

If your care needs started after you reached pension age, or you have not made a claim until then, you should claim AA. This is for help with personal care or need for supervision only.

If you have care and/or mobility needs and are under your pension age, you should claim PIP instead. You must be under pension age when you make your first claim. PIP is the new benefit that replaced DLA – no new claims for DLA have been accepted since June 2013. It’s important to ask for advice if you are already claiming one of these benefits and your needs change. Most people who are already claiming DLA will eventually be re-assessed for PIP, unless you were 65 or over when PIP started in 2013. You don’t need to do anything to start a claim for PIP if you are already getting DLA – you will get an invitation to claim. However, if you don’t respond to this invitation, your DLA will be stopped. People who receive PIP before they reach pension age will be able to stay on it afterwards as long as they continue to be eligible. See ‘Disability living allowance’ below for more information about transferring to PIP.

The claim forms for PIP and AA are very detailed and lengthy. They include questions about the activities that you find difficult or impossible to carry out, and about your need for care and supervision. When answering these questions, consider the days when you need more help as well as days when you don’t need as much. It will help your claim if you can provide supporting evidence such as information about medication, care plans or medical reports from your doctor.

It’s very important to get advice on filling in the form to make sure all the information that is needed is provided. Contact an organisation such as Citizens Advice or your local Age UK for help (see ‘Other resources’).

Attendance allowance

Attendance allowance (AA) can be claimed by someone who is disabled, aged over pension age and needs help with personal care.

Personal care needs might include supervision of or help with activities such as washing, dressing, eating, going to the toilet, turning over or settling in bed, taking medication, avoiding danger, or doing social activities. If you are over pension age and the DWP considers that you have a disabling condition (which may include dementia) you may qualify for AA at either a lower or higher rate (see below):

For lower rate attendance allowance you must meet one of the following conditions relating to your needs during the day and at night:

Needs during the day Needs at night

Needing frequent attention in relation to bodily functions (such as washing, going to the toilet, eating or taking medication) 

Needing prolonged or repeated attention 

Needing continual supervision to avoid harm to yourself or others 

If another person needs to be awake for a prolonged period or at frequent intervals to watch over you to avoid putting yourself or others in danger. 

For the highest rate you must have one of the day needs listed above plus one of the night needs listed above and you need to have met the needs conditions for six months before applying. This is not the case if you’ve been told by the doctor you probably have six months or less to live. In this case there’s no qualifying period and you get the highest rate automatically.

Disability living allowance

This benefit is being phased out and replaced by PIP (see ‘Personal independence payment’ below). If you were born on or before 8 April 1948 and claimed DLA before you were 65, you will not need to be reassessed for PIP. You will remain on DLA as long as you continue to satisfy the eligibility criteria.

If you were born after 8 April 1948 and already receive DLA you will be reassessed for PIP. The DWP will contact you if you need to change to PIP.

Personal independence payment

PIP has daily living components and (unlike AA) also has mobility components. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for either or both components. If you are under pension age you may qualify for the daily living component of PIP at one of the following levels:

  • standard rate – if you have a limited ability to carry out daily living activities safely
  • enhanced rate – if you have a severely limited ability to carry out daily living activities safely.

If you have difficulties going out and moving around safely, you may also qualify for the mobility component of PIP at one of the following levels:

  • standard rate – if you have limited mobility, which can include the ability to plan a journey or manage it unaided (not just the ability to walk)
  • enhanced rate – if you have severely limited mobility (as above).

Making a claim consists of two stages: the initial claim and the claimant questionnaire. The initial claim is made by telephone, or in writing by completing a PIP1 form (see ‘Personal independence payments (PIP) (New claims only)’ in ‘Other resources’). This is to establish the claim and ensure that you are eligible to apply.

Once the initial claim has been successfully made, the DWP will send you a claimant questionnaire (PIP2 – How your disability affects you). This includes questions about how your health condition or impairment affects your day-to-day life. This form must be returned within one month, though exceptions may be made in some cases – contact the DWP for more information. During the initial claim stage, people who may have additional support needs, for example because of a cognitive impairment, should be contacted by the assessment providers to attend a medical assessment.

The assessment (either in writing on the PIP2 form or in person) is based on questions about activities. People can be assessed as having limited ability or severely limited ability to carry out these activities. It is a good idea to take someone with you to the medical assessment if possible.

If you or the person you care for, goes into a care home or hospital, temporarily or permanently, you should get advice about how your AA, PIP, DLA or Carer’s allowance might be affected.

What are you entitled to?

Personal independence payment (PIP) has replaced Disability living allowance for all new claims after June 2013. Find out the current rates and thresholds for Personal independence payments.

See current rates
What are you entitled to?

Find out the current rates and thresholds for Disability living allowance.

See current rates
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