If your child is under 16 and has care or mobility needs because of a physical or mental disability you may be able to claim Disability Living Allowance for them from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Disability Living Allowance is made up of two components – care and mobility
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:
- is under 16
- has difficulties walking or needs more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability
They will need to meet all the eligibility requirements.
The DLA rate is between £21.80 and £139.75 a week and depends on the level of help the child needs. The child may need an assessment to work out what help they need.
DLA rates for children
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children is a tax-free benefit made up of 2 components (parts). The child might qualify for one or both components.
Care component Weekly rate Lowest £21.80 Middle £55.10 Highest £82.30
Mobility component Weekly rate Lower £21.80 Higher £57.45
How DLA for children is paid
DLA is usually paid every 4 weeks.
All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account, eg your bank account.
You might qualify for Carer’s Allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a child who gets the middle or highest care rate of DLA.
Change of circumstances
You must contact the disability benefits helpline as soon as the child’s circumstances change – this can affect how much they get. For example, their disability gets worse or they go abroad for medical treatment.
Their DLA won’t usually be affected if they go:
- into a local authority care home for less than 28 days
- into a hospital for less than 84 days
- abroad for less than 13 weeks
- abroad for less than 26 weeks to get medical treatment for a condition which began before they left
Usually, to qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children the child must:
- be under 16
- need extra looking after or have walking difﬁculties
- be in Great Britain, another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland when you claim – there are some exceptions, eg family members of the Armed Forces
- have lived in Great Britain for 2 of the last 3 years, if over 3 years old
- be habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
- not be subject to immigration control
There are some exceptions to these conditions if the child is living or coming from another EEA country or Switzerland.
You can claim DLA for children if you’re in or out of work.
Children under 3
A child under 6 months must have lived in Great Britain for at least 13 weeks.
A child aged between 6 months and 3 years must have lived in Great Britain for at least 26 of the last 156 weeks.
The rules on residence don’t normally apply if a child is terminally ill.
The child’s disability or health condition
The child’s disability or health condition must mean one or both of the following apply:
- they need more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability
- they have difficulty getting about
They must have had these difficulties for at least 3 months and expect them to last for at least 6 months. If they’re terminally ill (ie not expected to live more than 6 months), they don’t need to have had these difficulties for 3 months.
The rate the child gets depends on the level of looking after they need eg:
- lowest rate – help for some of the day or night
- middle rate – frequent help or constant supervision during the day, supervision at night or someone to help while they’re on dialysis
- highest rate – help or supervision throughout both day and night, or they’re terminally ill
The rate the child gets depends on the level of help they need getting about eg:
- lowest rate – they can walk but need help and or supervision when outdoors
- highest rate – they can’t walk, can only walk a short distance without severe discomfort, could become very ill if they try to walk or they’re blind, severely sight impaired
You might get a letter saying the child needs an assessment to check their eligibility. The letter explains:
- why and where they must go
- what paperwork you must bring, eg a passport or birth certificate as proof of identity for yourself and the child.
How to claim
Use the DLA claim form to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children under 16. The form tells you where to send your application.
You can order a printed form by telephoning the Disability Living Allowance helpline.
Disability Living Allowance
Telephone: 0345 712 3456
Textphone: 0345 722 4433
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
What you need to know
DLA can only be claimed for children under 16 – anyone over 16 must apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
You can claim DLA for a child as long as you look after them as if you’re their parent. ‘Parent’ includes step-parents, guardians, grandparents, foster-parents, and even older brothers or sisters.
DLA can’t be backdated. The date of your claim will usually be the date the form is received or the date you call the enquiry line (if you return the claim pack within 6 weeks).
It usually takes 40 working days to deal with a DLA claim.
The child may need an assessment (see above) to complete the application.
There are special rules if the child is not expected to live more than 6 months, so they can get DLA more quickly. You must:
- complete a DLA claim form
- include a DS1500 medical condition report with your claim form or send it soon after – these are free and you can only get them from a doctor, specialist or consultant
Appeal a decision
You can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal if you disagree with a decision. You must usually ask for ‘mandatory reconsideration’before you appeal.
When your child turns 16
Your child may be affected by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when they turn 16. This is a new benefit that’s replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64.
Use the PIP checker to find out what happens to their DLA when they turn 16.
Terminal illness and PIP
Usually, children awarded DLA under the rules for people who are terminally ill won’t be affected by PIP.
When your child applies for PIP
Your child will normally receive a letter inviting them to apply for PIP. Contact the Disability Benefits helpline if they haven’t received this 28 days before they turn 16. Their payment could stop if they don’t.
Your child will continue to receive DLA until a decision is made about their PIPclaim (even if their DLA award is due to expire).
Their DLA will end if they decide not to apply for PIP.