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Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

What is DLA

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a non-means tested benefit that can help with the extra costs of looking after a child:

  • who is under 16, and
  • has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability.

It does not have a negative effect on other benefits you may be claiming and, depending on the level of your income, it may also increase the amount of Universal or tax credit you can claim. You may also be entitled to carers allowance.

There’s a list of eligibility criteria that your child will need to meet. Take a look at the GOV.UK website to find out more.

How much DLA is my child entitled to

DLA is split into two parents: the care component and the mobility component.

The care component

Can be claimed from 0 years.

The care component is based on how much care and supervision your child needs and is split into 3 rates.

  • High rate: if your child needs frequent supervision throughout the day and night.
  • Middle rate: if your child needs supervision throughout the day or night.
  • Lower rate: if your child needs extra care for at least an hour of the day, but not at night.

You do not have to ‘choose’ which rate you are applying for – the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will read your application and evidence and make a decision.

The mobility component

The mobility component is based on your child’s ability to walk and how hard they find it to get around places that they don’t know well.

This is split into 2 rates.

  • Higher rate: For children aged 3+. This is usually awarded to children with severe physical difficulties who cannot walk. It may also be awarded to children with severe learning disabilities who receive high rate care component and they exhibit dangerous and disruptive behaviour or refusal episodes. If your child has a learning disability or autism spectrum disorder they may qualify for this rate.
  • Lower rate: For children aged 5+. Awarded if your child needs someone to guide or supervise them on unfamiliar routes and they needs more help getting around than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a health condition.

If your child has a learning disability or autism spectrum disorder they may qualify for higher rater mobility. This guide by Contact breaks down the qualifying criteria for higher rate mobility component for children with learning disabilities.

How to claim DLA

There are 2 ways to apply for Disability Living Allowance:

  1. Printing off and filling in the DLA claim form.
  2. Phoning the Disability Living Allowance helpline on 0800 121 4600 and asking for a printed form.

We recommend calling the DLA helpline, as this will mean your claim can be back-dated from the time you called.

Once you have the form, take some time to prepare by:

  • Reading through the questions and thinking about your answers.
  • Keeping a diary for 1 to 2 weeks, use it to write down all the things you do for your child.
  • Speak to your child’s school or nursery for a supporting statement about your child’s needs. This is Q38 on your DLA form (pages 10-11) and could come from a key worker, class teacher or SENCO. They may also be able to help with Q67 and Q68 (pages 29-30) and be able to provide you with copies of reports or behaviour plans.
  • Photocopy any letters, reports of EHCPs that you want to include in the claim.

Our guidance booklet provides a template for your diary and behaviour log.

What to focus on

It can help to focus on the following things when submitting your DLA claim:

  • Specific examples or scenarios that show the ways your child needs support – make a note of how long it takes you to provide this support.
  • Any guidance or supervision your child needs in unfamiliar places.
  • How many days a week are ‘good’ days versus ‘bad’ days.
  • Any non-physical ways your child is affected by their condition including anxiety or depression.
  • How their care needs differ from other children of the same age.

Don’t feel bad about dwelling on negatives, while this certainly doesn’t paint the full picture of who your child is, it’s important to show their highest levels of needs in your form.

Support for filling in a claim form

Irwin Mitchell and Carers Leeds have put together a step-by-step guide to completing the DLA claim form. It includes useful tips and tricks to help you avoid the pitfalls when filling in this form. Watch the video guide below:

How we can help

The Family Support team is happy to support you to fill in your DLA forms. However, please download our guidance booklet and complete the checklist tasks prior to meeting with us. Completing these tasks means we will be able to best help you.

More information about DLA

The GOV.UK website has lots of information about Disability Living Allowance including the current rates for children, what changes you need to report and what happens when your child turns 16.

Contact the Disability Living Allowance helpline

Telephone: 0800 121 4600

Textphone: 0800 121 4523

Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 4600

British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service if you’re on a computer – find out how to use the service on mobile or tablet

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

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