Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit that can be paid if a child needs help with their care or mobility. It helps to meet the extra costs of living with a disability. It is split into two parts: a mobility component and a care component.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit to help with the additional costs of looking after a child who:

•    Is under 16 and; 

•    Has difficulties with walking or requires more care than a child of a similar same age who does not have a disability or health condition. 

Disability Living Allowance is split into two parts: a mobility component and a care component. You can claim DLA for a child under the age of 16 if you can provide evidence that they have had care or mobility needs for at least three months and will continue to have them for at least six months. There is no lower age limit for the care component and anyone over the age of three can claim for the mobility component. 

How does it work?

To claim DLA for a child you need to be their parent or care for them as a parent would. 

To apply you can either:

•    Print off and fill in the DLA claim form. This can be found at:  https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children

•    Phone the Disability Living Allowance helpline on 0800 121 4600 and ask for a printed form

The form asks different questions about your child’s need for help when completing different tasks. There is no time limit to return the form.

If you are an adult applying on behalf of a child, DLA is not means-tested and is tax free. Claiming DLA on behalf of a child should not affect any other benefits you might be getting and it is paid on top of earnings and income. DLA is split into two parts: a mobility component and a care component. You can apply for both or either one of these as long as the child you are applying for satisfies the eligibility criteria. 

DLA is awarded either indefinitely or for a fixed time period. If a child has been awarded either component for a fixed time period, the DWP will contact you before the application expires. When renewing DLA, it is best not to presume that the DWP has any prior knowledge of your child’s condition or their needs. So when applying for a renewal, it is important to provide as much detail as you did on your initial application.

What is the criteria?

Your will need to satisfy the DWP that your child meets the following criteria in order to qualify for DLA:

Care 

•    Lowest rate – The child needs help for some of the day.
•    Middle rate – The child needs frequent help or constant supervision during the day or at night. 
•    Highest rate – The child needs help or supervision throughout both day and night, or they’re terminally ill. 

Mobility 

•    Lowest rate – the child can walk but needs help and or supervision when outdoors. 
•    Highest rate – the child cannot walk, can only walk a short distance without severe discomfort or could become very unwell if they try to walk. 

It is important to note that there are age limits to receiving the mobility component. To receive the lowest rate, the child must be aged 5 years or over. To receive the highest rate, the child must be aged 3 years or over. 

How can you strengthen the application?

On your child’s application form, it is important to give as much detail as possible to illustrate how they meet the criteria. Your child’s general practitioner (GP), consultant or other health care professional can complete part of the application and can provide a letter of support. Explain to your GP/health care professional how the condition affects your child’s daily life so that they can support the application. 

Supporting letters should describe your child’s need for help and supervision, relate specifically to your child’s condition and explain what would happen if this help and support is not available. A supporting letter can be provided by anyone who is involved professionally with your child’s care. This could include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work and a professional from a neuromuscular team such as a nurse specialist or care advisor. 

Often applications are rejected because people do not provide enough detail regarding a child’s care or mobility needs or they do not provide supporting evidence with the application.  It is important to make sure you go into adequate depth about any difficulties your child may experience. 

Remember that the person reading the application form may have no experience of neuromuscular conditions and their complexity, so provide as much helpful information as you can, and clearly explain if there are times when a child can do something and times when they cannot. If the application does do not get the outcome you think it should, you can appeal the decision. This is called requesting a mandatory reconsideration. 

The Information, Advocacy and Support team at Muscular Dystrophy UK can provide advice and support when applying for DLA and other benefits and can assist with challenging decision outcomes. 

I’m an adult receiving DLA. What do I do?

If you are an adult and still in receipt of DLA, your claim may end soon. This is because Personal Independence Payment (PIP) replaced DLA for working age residents in 2013. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you to advise you of this and will explain and how you can apply for PIP. 

If you're 65 or over, and already getting DLA, you are eligible to continue getting it after you reach 65. However: 

•    If you’re 65 or over and you are only getting the care component of DLA, and you start to have mobility problems, you are eligible only for the DLA mobility component if you can show evidence that you qualified for it before your 65th birthday. 

•    If you already get the mobility component, and your mobility problems get worse, you can’t move to a higher rate of mobility component after you’ve reached 65. 

•    If you’re 65 or over and you’re only getting the mobility component of DLA, and you start to have care needs, you’ll normally be able to start getting the DLA care component only if you qualify for it at the middle or highest rate. If you qualify only for the lowest rate care component, you won’t get this unless you can show evidence that you qualified for it before your 65th birthday. 

If you were born after 8 April 1948, your DLA will end. The DWP will contact you to advise you of this. Unless your circumstances change, you do not need to do anything until the DWP get in touch with you.