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Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can help with the extra costs of bringing up your child. Claim DLA if your child is under 16 and:

  • has difficulty with mobility
  • needs more care than a non-disabled child of the same age

Warning Call to start a new DLA claim

Your claim starts from the date you call the Disability Living Allowance helpline (GOV.UK).

You have 90 days to complete the form and post it to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This means that if successful, you will get money for those 90 days.

If you download the DLA form (GOV.UK), your claim will start from when the DWP receives your form.

DWP will pay you for up to 3 months before the start of your claim. This date is either from when you call for a claim form or from when the DWP receives your printed form.

Calling the DWP starts your claim period earlier.

DLA eligibility criteria

The DLA form asks for descriptions of how your child’s condition affects daily life. It’s up to you to provide examples to show your child is eligible. This can be a challenging experience for parents.

DLA eligibility criteria (GOV.UK) 

DLA components

DLA has care and mobility components. Your child may be eligible for one or both. Each component has different rates of payment. The amount you receive depends on your child’s needs.

Care component

If your child needs:

  • about an hour’s extra care during the day or night, they will get the lowest payment.
  • frequent help of 20 minutes or more during the day and night or extra supervision during the day and at night, they will get the middle payment.
  • help day and night or if they are terminally ill, they will get the highest payment.

Mobility component

If your child:

  • is aged 5 or above and can walk but needs help outdoors or when somewhere new, they will get the lowest payment.
  • is aged 3 or above and cannot walk, can only walk a short distance, could become very ill trying to walk or has a severe sight impairment, they will get the highest payment.

Completing the DLA form

DWP’s information booklet and form for Claiming Disability Allowance for a child under 16 is a PDF of over 60 pages.

About 40 pages are the form you need to fill in. Half the questions are tick boxes or personal information.

Help with the DLA form (Citizens Advice).

Warning Get support

It can be emotional describing details of your child’s condition. Ask someone to help with this, such as a health professional, support worker or teacher, friend or family member.

Describing your child’s condition and needs

Try to keep a diary of how your child’s condition affects them. This could be a notebook or piece of paper stuck to the fridge. It should be something that’s easy to find, fill in and refer to.

DLA diary (Word template) 

Write down everything your child needs during a day in as much detail as possible.

Think about how your child:

  • eats
  • sleeps
  • dresses
  • uses the bathroom
  • moves about
  • concentrates at school
  • gets on with teachers and therapists
  • takes medication
  • interacts with you, brothers and sisters, family, friends and strangers

Speak with anyone involved in your child’s care, such as their therapists, doctor, social worker or teacher. Everyone will have a different perspective.

Provide detail

Think about the everyday things you do. It may seem obvious to you, but it may not be to the assessor. Give detail and say if things happen sometimes, a lot or all the time.

Do not write: “Cannot dress himself.”

Do write: “My child needs help getting dressed every morning. He cannot put his arms through the sleeves of his t-shirt without my help. Every night my child needs help to take off his t-shirt and to put on his pyjamas.”

Explain your child’s needs

Do not write: “I help my child go to the toilet 5 times a day.”

Do write: “My child needs help going to the toilet 5 times a day. She needs help removing her underwear and I have to clean and wash her after every visit to the toilet.”

The person making the decision is not a medical person. Use simple language in your answers. You should describe your child’s condition, but you do not have to use medical terms. The important thing is to describe how the condition affects your child’s daily life.

The DWP will compare your child with a non-disabled child of the same age. Concentrate on your child’s additional needs. The assessor knows that most children aged 3 need some help eating. If your child is unable to eat without you feeding them, explain this. Talk about your child’s mental and physical needs. It might be a physical condition, but it could cause your child distress.

Warning Think about your bad days

Do not exaggerate but provide examples of your child's bad days. What seems normal or easy to you might not be to others, especially if you’ve adapted to your child’s condition. Make sure you include everything your child finds difficult or impossible to do, even if it’s not every day. And explain why it’s difficult or impossible.

Gather evidence

Include as much evidence as you can, such as:

  • prescription details
  • medical or therapy reports
  • a Special Educational Needs (SEN) or school plan
  • a statement from another carer

Do not include:

  • a diary you made documenting your child’s condition
  • long descriptions of your child’s conditions
  • anything that does not support your child’s additional needs

If you need more space than the form allows, you can include extra information on separate sheets of paper.

Warning Make copies

Make copies of the completed form and any extra evidence before sending it to the DWP.

Physical assessment

Once the DWP has assessed your form, they will contact you with their decision. This usually takes about 40 days.

If you challenge the DWP’s decision, they may need more information. This could include a physical assessment.

Physical assessments (The Health Assessment Advisory Service).

Last reviewed by Scope on: 13/04/2021

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