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.

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What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance (AA) 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 you may not be entitled to this benefit.

You do not have to be registered as Sight Impaired or Severely Sight 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 tell them about other health conditions you have and send as much medical evidence as possible.

If you are registered as 'sight impaired' or 'severely sight impaired', you can send in your Certificate of Visual Impairment as part of your claim. If you are not registered you can send in additional information about your sight loss from your GP or consultant.

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, that can help you fill out the form correctly. You are given six weeks to complete the application and it takes 8-10 weeks for it to be processed.

To request a form, contact the Attendance Allowance helpline: 0800 731 0122

To make a successful claim, everything needs to be related to a physical task. Think about a typical day or week and consider when you may have difficulty or need extra 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. For example, if you were to describe your bedtime routine, then you would start by explaining the decision to go to bed and end with you getting into bed. You can detail any difficulties experienced along the way. 

To qualify for AA you have to show that you need help frequently throughout the day. For example, you may need assistance looking after your appearance. This could add up to six or seven times a day, and include tasks such as checking your clothes are clean after a meal and helping to find a coat or matching shoes to go out in.

What do you do if you disagree with the decision?

If your claim is unsuccessful there is the option to have the decision looked at again, this is called a 'mandatory reconsideration'. You must request the mandatory reconsideration before going to appeal. This request is made via the DWP.

A mandatory reconsideration gives another DWP decision maker the opportunity to look at your claim. As part of your mandatory reconsideration, you have the chance to tell them why you think the initial decision was incorrect and provide further evidence. If the outcome of this stage remains the same you will be informed in writing with an explanation of how to progress to a formal appeal tribunal.

If you choose to appeal it is important to get the right advice and support from an organisation who is experienced in appeal welfare benefit decisions.

Looking for information on who may be best to support you in your area?

Speak to either Age UK or contact the Macular Society Helpline on 0300 3030 111.

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Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to financial support from the government. Welfare benefits are available to help those living with macular disease, and their families, with extra costs.

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We provide free information and support to those with macular disease, along with their family and friends, to help people keep their independence.

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Call our helpline on 0300 3030 111

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