What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?
Disability Living Allowance or DLA is a benefit you can claim if your child needs extra help or looking after because of their special needs:
DLA isn't taxed.
If you claim other benefits, income from DLA is 'disregarded' - it isn't taken into account.
DLA is counted as your child's income.
You can't get a social security benefit without a national insurance number. So the first time you make a claim for your child, they are issued a national insurance number. This is the reference number at the top of any letters about your child's claim.
DLA is paid monthly.
DLA isn't means tested.
However much you earn, you can still claim it.
It's a passport to other sorts of financial help.
If you claim any other benefits because you are on a low income, it's always worth saying if your child gets DLA: there are often extra premiums or credits attached to other benefits for parents whose children get DLA. If your child gets DLA, they could also be eligible for a Compass Card, a leisure card issued by Amaze that gives discounts and special offers across the city.
If your claim is successful DLA is payable in two parts. These are called the care and mobility components and there are rules about what you can claim for.
What is 'extra help or looking after'?
When you apply for DLA for a child, you will need to show that your child needs substantially more help in connection with their 'bodily functions' than that usually required by a child of the same age. What does this mean?
Unpicking the jargon
'your child must require more help'
......does not mean medically require....it means reasonably require.
For example, a child with a speech and language disorder has a reasonable requirement for attention from another person to help make themselves understood so that they can join in and play with other children.
in connection with their 'bodily functions'
.........bodily functions include breathing, hearing, seeing, talking, listening, signing, reading, playing, eating, drinking, walking, sitting, maintaining good posture, sleeping, turning, changing bedclothes in the night, eliminating waste products, getting in and out of bed, the bath, chair, washing, shampooing hair, cleaning teeth, brushing hair, dressing and undressing, help with medication or therapies, managing their feelings and behaviour, making choices, being prompted, reminded or encouraged.
What counts as help?
All sorts of things count as help. These can include:
- the resourcefulness, time and energy you put into helping your child learn what other children seem to pick up effortlessly.
- practical and 'hands on' help, or prompting and encouragement with everyday activities like dressing, washing, and toileting, or even learning how to play or get along with other children.
- the 'thinking' you do to anticipate and manage potential difficulties.
- the ways you adapt your communicative approach just to meet your child's needs. Many children need help to make themselves understood, make sense of what's going on around them, or to manage difficult feelings like anger or anxiety.
- nursing or therapeutic help: monitoring your child's medical condition, giving medication, helping your child use special equipment or carry out a therapy programme.
- help to get out and about, and to keep safe.
Don't underestimate the help you child needs. Some children need much more help than others of the same age. Even if your child needs extra help with just some of the things we have mentioned, we think it's worth making a claim for DLA.
If your claim is successful DLA is payable in two parts. These are called the care and mobility components
The care component
You can claim this if your child needs help with 'personal care', that is, looking after themselves. This includes things like keeping safe and communication.
You can claim this at any time, as long as your child has needed the extra help for at least three months and will continue to need that help for at least another six months. There are three rates at which it can be paid.
- The lower rate: if your child needs some help during the day. This is payable at £19.55 a week
- The middle rate: if your child needs more help during the day or at night.
This is payable at £49.30 a week, and
- The high rate: if your child needs help day and night.
This is payable at £73.60 a week.
If your child is diagnosed with a life limiting illness and unlikely to live more than six months, you can claim under special rules (see below).
The mobility component
You can claim this if your child needs extra help with getting around. There are two rates for this:
The lower rate: if your child needs someone around to keep them safe or someone to help them find their way around.
- It is payable to children from the age of five.
- Many primary age children are still learning how to get about and stay safe on streets and in parks near their homes. So, to get this you will need to show how much more help your child needs, than others of the same age.
- Most children meeting the criteria for the lower rate mobility component are likely to have a significant learning or co-ordination difficulty, a communication disorder or some sensory impairment.
- This is payable at £19.55 a week.
The higher rate: if your child's ability to get around is severely restricted by their disability:
- It is payable to children from the age of three who are unable to walk independently.
- Children meeting this rule are likely to have a severe physical or sensory impairment, a life threatening neurological, cardiac or respiratory disorder, or the most severe autism or learning disability.
- This is payable at £51.40 a week.
If your child is awarded the higher rate:
- You may not have to pay road tax on the vehicle used by your disabled child.
- Your child will be entitled to a Blue Badge. This should make it easier to park close to the places you take your child.
- You may be able to buy or lease a car using the mobility component of your child's DLA, through the Motability scheme. You may be able to buy an electric wheelchair. To use the Motability scheme your child must have at least 12 months of their DLA award left to run.
If your child is nearly three and already receives the care component of DLA at the higher rate, you should be contacted and asked if you wish to make a claim for the mobility component.
If your child has a life-limiting illness and you are applying for the mobility component under special rules you only have to fill part of the claim pack.
If your child is diagnosed with a life limiting illness and unlikely to live more than six months, you can claim under special rules. Though claiming benefits is likely to be the last thing on your mind if you've just been told your child has such a poor prognosis, it is a good idea to try to claim it as soon as you feel able since DLA cannot be backdated to before the day you actually claim it, even in such distressing circumstances.
Claiming the care component of DLA under Special Rules means that you don't have to wait three months. If DLA is awarded on these grounds, your child will automatically be awarded the highest rate care component.
Ask your child's consultant for a DS1500 report and send it with your claim. If you'd rather not read what they write, ask for the DS1500 to be handed to you in a sealed envelope, or give the parts of the claim you have completed to your child's doctor or specialist nurse: they will be happy to send it all off for you. The DWP aims to make decisions about these claims within eight days.
Claiming the mobility component of DLA under Special Rules. To apply for this you only have to fill in parts of the claim pack.