DLA is often the first benefit which parents claim, and it’s also a passport to other sorts of financial help.
DLA is paid monthly, and it isn’t taxed or means tested, which means they don’t take your other income into account. You can claim DLA if your child needs more help or looking after than other children their age because of their additional needs.
Who can claim DLA?
Many parents do not think their child is ‘disabled enough’ to claim to DLA. Consequently, they miss out on many years of financial support to which they and their child were entitled.
Be aware that it is not just children with obvious physical disabilities who need ‘extra help’ looking after. Many of our children need help to make themselves understood, make sense of what’s going on around them, or to manage difficult feelings like anger or anxiety. Some children need ‘hands on’ help, or prompting and encouragement with everyday activities like dressing, washing, and toileting or maybe to learn how to play or get along with other children. Your child may need you to monitor a medical condition, give medication, help to use special equipment, or to carry out a therapy programme. Or perhaps your child needs your help to get out and about, or needs you to keep an eye on them to keep safe.
Some children need much more help than others of the same age. But even if your child needs extra help with just some of the things we have mentioned, we think it’s worth making a claim for DLA. If your claim is successful DLA is payable in two parts. There are care and mobility components: you can claim either or both and there are rules about what you can claim.
The care component
You can claim this if your child needs help with ‘personal care’, that is, looking after themselves and this includes things like keeping safe and communication. You can claim this part of the benefit at any time, as long as your child has needed the extra help for at least three months and will continue to need that help for at least another six months. There are three rates at which it can be paid:
The lower rate: if your child needs some help during the day. This is currently £21.55 per week.
The middle rate: if your child needs more help during the day or at night. This is currently £54.45 per week.
The high rate: if your child needs help day and night. This is currently £81.30 per week.
The mobility component
You can claim this part of the benefit if they need extra help with getting around. There are two rates for this:
The higher rate: if your child’s ability to get around is severely restricted by their disability. It is payable to children from the age of three who are unable to walk independently. Children meeting this rule are likely to have a severe physical or sensory impairment, a life threatening neurological, cardiac or respiratory disorder, or the most severe autism and learning disability. If your child is coming up to three years old and already receives the care component of DLA at the higher rate, you should be contacted and asked if you wish to make a claim for the mobility component. This is currently £56.75 per week.
If you do get the higher rate for mobility for your child, you may be entitled to additional help with transport and parking. Find out more about getting help with transport and parking.
The lower rate: if your child needs someone around to keep them safe or someone to help them find their way around. It is payable to children from the age of five. Many primary age children are still learning how to get about and stay safe on streets and in parks near their homes. So, to get this you will need to show how much more help your child needs than others of the same age. Most children meeting the criteria for the lower rate mobility component are likely to have a significant learning or co-ordination difficulty, a communication disorder or some sensory impairment. This is currently £21.55 per week.
How can I get DLA forms?
It’s best to get the forms from the Disability and Carers Service as the Department for Work and Pensions will then stamp the form with the date you phoned to ask for it. As long as you send it back within six weeks and it’s successful, the claim can start from that date. You can download a claim pack or complete the form online on the government’s DWP website or ring on 0800 121 4600 or text phone on 0800 121 4523. Be clear you are claiming for a child and not yourself. Tell them your child’s age, so that you are sent the right claim pack. The application form you need, DLA1CH, is different from the one for adults. If your child is nearly 16, expect to fill in an adult claim form. Since April 2013, DLA for adults has been replaced by a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP).