Disabled children and their families

Disability Living Allowance for children

Only about half the families with disabled children claim allowances and benefits that they're entitled to.

You could receive benefits to help you with the costs of caring for a child with a disability. Different rules apply if your child is over 16 years-old. You need to contact the benefits agency for advice and information.

About Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for children who need extra help with personal care, or have walking difficulties caused by a long-term health problem.

You should think about applying if your child has a long-term illness that affects their everyday activities, even if you do not consider your child to be disabled.

DLA is there to help you meet additional expenses caused by a long-term health problems, such as higher eating bills, taxi fares or additional laundry.

When you can claim

A long-term health problem is one that has lasted for at least 3 months and is expected to last for at least another 6 months. You can get ready with you application before the 3 months is up.

The health problem has to result in your child needing substantially more care or supervision than other children of the same age that don't have the health problem.

If your child is under 16 years-old you can claim on their behalf. Once they are 16 years-old or older they can claim in their own right. Making a claim for DLA can be a long, drawn-out and emotionally draining process, but help is at hand.

DLA not means-tested, so it's not affected by the income or savings the child or the child’s family might have. Your child will not automatically be registered as disabled if they receive DLA. It will not make it more difficult for them to get a job when they become an adult.

Parts of the DLA

There are two parts to DLA:

  • help with personal care
  • help with problems getting around (mobility)

The help with personal care part of DLA is available at three rates - lower, middle and higher - depending on your extent of need. You can spend DLA on anything you wish. It could be used for treats and holidays, or to put away in a savings account for your child.

Filling in the application

The following tips may make filling in the DLA forms a bit easier:

  • always keep in mind why you are filling in the form
  • get the help of an outsider who knows your child
  • keep a detailed diary of all the help you give your child, including headings that are relevant to the DLA form
  • have a test run so you can plan the best responses

Most importantly: keep a copy! This will help if you need to appeal or ask for a review. It will also be handy when the benefit award period ends and your claim has to be renewed, because you have to fill in a renewal form giving almost the same information all over again.