Applying for DLA
Disability Living Allowance is a benefit for under 16s, who have a serious illness like cancer, a mental health condition, or a disability. DLA helps with day to day living costs. It’s not means tested, which means it’s not based on your income or savings. It also won’t affect any other benefits you’re getting.
Do I qualify for DLA?
You can apply for DLA as long as you look after the child as a parent would. It doesn’t matter what your actual relationship is. You can get DLA if your child:
- Needs help with walking or getting around outdoors or in unfamiliar places, or
- Needs more care or supervision than a child their age who doesn’t have a serious illness or disability.
Your child must have needed help with either or both of these for at least three months. And they should be likely to need help for at least another six months.
How does DLA work?
There are two parts to DLA – a care part and a mobility part. Your child may get one or both, depending on their needs.
This part has three different levels – lower, middle and highest. The level your child gets will be based on the amount of care and supervision they need.
You will need to show your child has greater needs than another child of their age in normal physical health. Or that they need more support with things like:
- getting to and using the toilet
- communicating with other people
- keeping an eye on their medical condition or diet
- settling in bed.
The care component of DLA isn’t paid until a child reaches three months old but you can still apply for it before then.
This is paid at two different rates – higher and lower. This will depend on the level of help your child needs with their mobility.
The minimum age for claiming the mobility part is three, but for the lower rate, the minimum age is five. You must show that your child needs much more supervision with getting around than other children of their age in normal health.
Help with mobility can be that:
- your child can’t walk
- they can only walk short distances without feeling severe discomfort
- the effort of walking could threaten their life or affect their health
- or they are severely sight impaired or deaf, for example.
How do I apply for DLA?
Claims cannot be backdated so it’s important you apply for DLA as soon as your child becomes entitled.
To make a claim in England, Scotland or Wales you can download the form at gov.uk and apply by post using the address on the form.
You can also contact the Disability Service Centre on 0345 605 6055 and request an application form.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, you can get a claim pack for DLA at nidirect.gov.uk
You can also call the Disability and Carer’s Service on 0300 123 3356.
What happens when my child turns 16?
A benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is replacing DLA for people aged 16-64. You will get a letter shortly before your child’s 16th birthday telling you about changing to PIP.
What happens if my child’s illness is terminal?
If your child has been diagnosed as having less than six months to live, the rules are slightly different. For example, they don’t need to have had difficulties for the past three months. They also don’t need to have lived in Great Britain for a certain amount of time.
Your child will be entitled to the highest rate of the care part of DLA. However, you will still need to complete the questions in the application form about your child’s mobility. This is so they can decide what level of the mobility part they should get.
Talk to your child’s doctor, specialist or consultant, or the clinical nurse specialist about applying. They will need to fill in a DS1500 form for you to send in with the completed DLA form.
If your child lives longer than six months they will continue to get DLA.
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