Attendance Allowance (soon to be renamed “Severe Disability Benefit”) is a payment of around £90 a week to help meet the extra costs of disability – medical costs, equipment, extra heating etc.

Invalid Carer Allowance (“Carers Allowance”) is £73 a week and is intended to supplement the income of someone who is caring for someone else for more than 35 hours a week.

AA and ICA were first introduced in 1984. Recently, Social Security have reviewed the way these benefits work, in consultation with healthcare professionals and voluntary organisations like the Guernsey Disability Alliance. Proposals resulting from the review will be debated in the States at the end of October and the Billet for that meeting was published in September.

In summary, those changes are:

1. Names to be changed to “Severe Disability Benefit” and “Carer’s Allowance”
2. Forms to be redesigned to be more user friendly and to better capture all forms of impairment, including dementia etc.
3. Single guide to all disability benefits to be produced
4. All leaflets about disability-related benefits to be made accessible and available in alternative formats.
5. Ongoing benefits training for healthcare professionals
6. Limit on how much a carer can earn (currently £117/wk) to be removed from end 2012.
7. Free prescriptions for AA claimants from the beginning of 2012.
8. ICA payments will no longer stop immediately on death, or move to residential care, of the person being cared for. Eight week grace period after death, four weeks after move to residential.
9. Students in full time education on-island will be eligible for ICA.
10. ICA claimants will need to provide more detail of how they are providing 35 hours of care. ICA will be reviewed more often, especially for those over 65s who may need other types of support with their caring role.
11. SSD will be able to make the payment of ICA subject to certain conditions if they have concerns about the level of care being delivered. For example, a certain minimum level of involvement of healthcare professionals.

You can see Jenny Hooper talking about what the changes will mean for herself and her daughter Abigail on Channel TV here.

If you think you might be eligible for AA or ICA, leaflets about these benefits are available from Social Security. Please note that the forms are very complicated to complete and you are advised to seek the help of a healthcare professional.

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