Getting your child's DLA claim form assessed

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can help you with the extra costs of bringing up your disabled child.

Applying for DLA

To apply for DLA, you must complete and post a claim form to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

You can:

Find the DLA claim form for children (GOV.UK).

Warning Call the DWP

Calling the DWP for a form starts your claim from the date you called. You then have up to 6 weeks to complete and return the form.

If you print the form, your claim starts only when the DWP receives your completed form.

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

The form takes time to complete. Preparing the best possible application you can will increase the chance of a successful claim but it can be emotionally tough to do.

Understanding DLA questions to complete application

Starting your claim

If you’ve called the DWP, having the extra 6 weeks to complete your form will give you time to think about your answers and to seek help if necessary.

If your child’s condition changes day to day, it means you can collect more evidence to support your claim.

You may want to get your claim in sooner if:

  • you already have evidence supporting your claim

  • your child’s needs do not change

  • you’ve printed a copy of your claim form

Warning Backdated benefit

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, so calling the DWP starts your claim period earlier.

Get help and support

It can be emotional describing details of your child’s condition. Seek support from people who can help you describe what your child needs day to day but are not too emotionally involved. You could ask a health professional, support worker or teacher, as well as a friend or family member.

Answering DLA questions

The DWP information booklet and form for Claiming Disability Allowance for a child under 16is a PDF of just over 60 pages. About 40 pages are the form you need to fill in. Half the questions are tick boxes or personal information.

Try to keep a diary of how your child’s condition affects them day to day. 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.

Citizens Advice has a PDF diary template you can download or print.

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

If you’re the primary carer, you know about the major things you do, but you might not think of the smaller everyday things. If you’re not writing them down as soon as they happen, you might not remember. Make sure you gather plenty of examples to help your claim.

Provide detail

Look beyond the headlines and include details.

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.”

Write about 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.”

How your child is assessed

Your child is assessed on the application form. You’ll be trying to show the reality of caring for your child on a piece of paper.

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 3-year-olds need some help eating. If your 3-year-old 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 It’s never a good day

If your child has a fluctuating condition, do not say they have good or normal days and bad days. Say they have bad days and better days.

Speak with anyone involved in your child’s care - their therapists, doctor, social worker or teacher. Everyone will have a different perspective. Your child’s teacher may be easiest person to talk to, but they may not have taught a child with your child’s condition before.

Gather evidence

The more evidence you send the better, but make sure it’s relevant.

Do include:

  • 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

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

The Health Assessment Advisory Service explains what’s involved in a physical assessment.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 04/03/2019

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it
Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window