By Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey
Q: My 70-year-old father recently had a stroke and I have cut down my working hours to care for him. He receives his state pension, but we are struggling financially. Is there any help available for us?
A: Financial support is available for people when they become ill, as well as for their carers. What is available will depend on your circumstances.
Your father may be eligible for Attendance Allowance (AA) to help with his daily living costs. His eligibility will be assessed on how his condition affects him, and what support he needs.
To get Attendance Allowance you have to have had care needs for at least six months (unless you are terminally ill).
You have care needs if you need help with your ‘bodily functions’, for example, washing, getting dressed and going to the toilet. This help can include attention, which allows you to take part in social activities. You also have care needs if you need supervision to stop you from being a danger to yourself or others. If you are terminally ill, you are automatically treated as having care needs.
Your father does not actually have to be receiving help with his care needs. As long as he has the needs, it does not matter whether he is getting or planning to get care.
To apply for Attendance Allowance, your father can call the The Disability and Carers Service on 0300 123 3356 and then complete the form he is sent. He can request a form by post, but it is usually better to start the claim over the phone, as AA payments are backdated from the day you made your claim. Citizens Advice can help complete this form.
There may also be help available for you as his carer. Carer’s Allowance is a financial assistance for people who have less time to work because they are caring for someone. If you earn £110 a week or less from your job after tax, and care for your father for 35 hours a week, you may be eligible.
Before lodging an application for Carer’s Allowance we would always recommend that the carer and the person being cared for both get a benefit check completed as they may lose some of the benefit they get, such as a severe disability premium, if you make a claim.
• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice – go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland or call at: Citizens Advice Newtownabbey, Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day on 028 9085 2271 (Lunch 1pm - 1:30pm). Email advice is available at firstname.lastname@example.org