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Care & carers

Attendance Allowance and cancer

(18 Posts)
MamaCaz Sun 13-Mar-16 18:51:24

My dad (83) was diagnosed with prostate cancer over a year ago, and by then the cancer was already in his bones. So far, he's been lucky in that the hormones he's being given have been slowing down the progress of the illness, but obviously, things can only get worse. sad.

My mum, who's a similar age, and not in the best of health herself, confided in me today about how worried she is about coping when he becomes less mobile. It seems that she mentioned this to her GP last week, and he mentioned a benefit that is available to cancer patients, to help with paying for care. My dad, it seems, is reluctant to even discuss the matter, so Mum has asked me if I could find out more about it for her.

I've been Googling it, and I presume the GP was referring to Attendance Allowance. If so, it seems that in order to get it, either you have to have needed help for at least six months - which doesn't apply to my dad yet - or be "terminally ill", meaning in government speak that someone is not expected to live more than six months (and in this case, the six-month need of care doesn't apply). Fortunately, my dad hasn't yet reached that stage either.

Can anyone give me any advice, please? For example, if / when my dad reaches the stage of needing care, should he apply for Attendance Allowance immediately, even though he won't get the benefit for another six months, or can he not even apply for the first six months? If he were to do the latter, how would he be expected to prove how long he had needed help?

Please, any advice at all would be really appreciated.

Luckygirl Sun 13-Mar-16 19:23:13

I would suggest that you make an application as soon as he has needed help for 6 months. Attendance Allowance is available to anyone over 65 who has care needs, and it is not aimed specifically at people who have cancer. But there is a system called the "Special Rules" under which someone with a life-limiting illness can be pushed through the application system more speedily in order to make sure they can get the benefit from it. Under those rules life expectancy is assessed at 6 months, but in reality many people obtain AA under the special rules but live much longer.

Since the GP mentioned it, then I think you can assume that she/he is willing to sign the medical section of the application under special rules.

So, if I were you, I should go ahead and apply as soon as he has qualified for 6 months, take the medical form to the GP, and go to the CAB for help with filling in the rest, which is quite complex and repetitive needs to be worded exactly in order to please the department.

I helped many people to apply when I was working - and one lady lived for 5 years, another is still going after 7! - and they both applied under the special rules. Predicting life expectancy is not an exact science.

f77ms Sun 13-Mar-16 19:38:53

I agree with luckygirl, especially about getting help filling in the form . It is a minefield to fill in and the CAB or Disability information bureau will help you with it . It almost seems as if these government benefit forms are designed to confuse .
Sorry to hear about your Dad x

MamaCaz Sun 13-Mar-16 19:42:48

Thanks, Luckygirl and f77ms.

If and when that time comes, I'll do as you both suggested - if, of course, this benefit is still available by then!

Pennie1 Tue 15-Mar-16 13:01:42

If you phone up and get the AA application form sent to you it will arrive with a date stamped on it. As long as you return it within six weeks, then the AA will be back-dated to that date. If you download a form from the Government website, then AA will only be payable from the date it is returned to them.

The form should be filled in on a "worst case" scenario and needs to include certain words and phrases to stand the best chance of being accepted. We made an appointment with our local AgeUK offices and they were incredibly helpful (there was no charge for this, but we were happy to make a donation to their funds).

Luckygirl Tue 15-Mar-16 13:29:11

It is, as Pennie says, important that you put down how he is when he is at his worst. But Age Concern or CAB should be able to put you right on this.

Galen Tue 15-Mar-16 13:50:15

NO! It should be how it is for most of the time. They have medical advisers they can call on to ask if this amount of care is likely. They can also ask for a medical exam (.as in PIP)
You can apply before the 6/12 but it wouldn't be payable until the 6/12 has expired.
The form the GP has to complete for special rules states that his opinion death before 6/12 is mo.likely.
It would not be fair to expect your gp to lie

Luckygirl Tue 15-Mar-16 14:32:45

Hi galen - I think it is important that the whole picture is presented. I know that some people say "Oh, he is not always like that so I can't put that." But I always encouraged people to make sure that they made it clear that the condition fluctuated (e.g. depending on the time of day, time after taking medication or chemo etc.) - I always encouraged people to make it clear that there are bad times and good times, as that is the reality. It is then up to the person reading it to decide whether the claimant qualifies. All that you can do is fill it in honestly. I used to find that people were inclined to understate their needs rather than overstate them, and I had to encourage them to think about it as a whole, both the good and the bad.

Indeed, no-one would expect a GP to lie! I am assuming that since the GP suggested it it, he/she believes that MamaCaz's father does qualify.

The lady I quoted who lived for a 5 further years was not expected to live more than 6 months because of her heart problems - they were all waiting for her to collapse in a heap - but she defied all the doctors! - good for her! And the lady who is still alive after 7 years has inoperable ovarian cancer and was not expected to survive - however she rallied and subsequent improvements in treatment have kept her ticking along for far longer than they originally expected - I am glad to say this, as she is my friend, whom I helped to complete the form as she was too distressed by what was happening to do it herself.

Galen Tue 15-Mar-16 15:08:41

I would agree with you completely. But unfortunately some advisers are telling people to fill the forms in as if it was always like it is on the worst day. When they then come to appeal this then becomes obvious
I too have known people who have outlived the 6/12.
Some of them have been reviewed and got very cross when the benefit is removed or reduced.

WilmaKnickersfit Tue 15-Mar-16 21:04:16

Galen why would those cases go to appeal? Aren't those the cases that won't end up at a tribunal? Surely it's the cases where the circumstances are understated that go to appeal, assuming the claimant doesn't just give up and accept the decision (and I am sure many do). Off the top of your head, do you know roughly what percentage of decisions are overturned on appeal? I thought you said earlier, but I can't find the information.

Merry16 Tue 15-Mar-16 22:54:11

Please call Macmillan Cancer Care for advice. They will inform you and guide you about what is available for your Dad.

MamaCaz Wed 16-Mar-16 11:59:15

Thanks to all of you for advice.

To the best of my knowledge, my dad still isn't at the stage where we would be able to apply for this. As I said in my OP, the GP was just responding to Mum's fear about she will cope when my dad does reach that stage, in the future, so I don't think he was suggesting that they apply yet.

Dad has always been the one who deals with financial / official things, and Mum doesn't even use the Internet, which is why, after what the GP said, she asked me if I would try to find out more (given my dad's reluctance to even discuss the matter).

I suppose that all I can do for now is try to monitor the situation, then try to be there for them when needed, though it's not going to be easy when Mum and Dad live a 2.5 hour drive away.

Galen Wed 16-Mar-16 12:06:31

Think it's at least 40% succeed on appeal. Not many special rules ones come to appeal. It's usually because they aren't terminal and have been disqualified under the usual rules as well.

Luckygirl Wed 16-Mar-16 12:34:58

MamaCaz - if he qualifies (i.e. his need for help is that the required level) he can still apply under the normal rules rather than the special rules.

WilmaKnickersfit Wed 16-Mar-16 12:45:06

Thanks Galen. It's still quite high then.

chrispalmer Thu 27-Jul-17 07:03:30

This benefit is for people aged 65 or over who have problems looking after themselves.
If you are under 65, you should claim Personal Independence Payment instead of Attendance Allowance.

Who can claim

You may qualify if you have problems with personal care, for example:

* getting out of bed
* having a bath
* dressing yourself
* needing someone with you to make sure you are safe.

Attendance Allowance is based on the amount of care you need, not the amount of care you get. You don’t need to have a career to be able to get this benefit. But you must have had these problems for at least six months.

You should also know that:

* your income and savings are not taken into account for Attendance Allowance

* If you are awarded Attendance Allowance, your other benefits will not be reduced – they may actually increase, or you may be able to get other benefits, such as Pension Credit.

MissAdventure Thu 27-Jul-17 14:12:22

Your dad should be eligible for disability benefit or PIP or whatever it now is called, and can apply under the "special rules". He doesn't even have to deal with it himself, as it can be applied for on his behalf.
Macmillan can make a phone appointment and fill in the form with you; large sections are not needed to be completed, and the 'not expected to live for longer than 6 months' rule is very flexible, as who on earth knows how long someone will live, or what may happen. The benefit carries on after the 6 months is up, for as long as needed.

Galen Thu 27-Jul-17 15:15:03

It will be AA65+ at his age. Immediately he needs terminal. Care apply with the relevant form from GP, McMillan nurse or hospital. You won't need to fill in much and it is supposed to have a very quick turn around at DWP