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Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is extra money to help you with the extra costs of caring for a child under 16 who is disabled or has a long term health condition. 

It’s a tax-free benefit for children who need extra help with personal care or have mobility difficulties caused by a long-term health problem. You should think about applying if your child has a long-term illness that affects their everyday activities, even if you do not consider your child to be disabled.

Who can make a claim?

If your child is under 16 years old you can claim on their behalf. Once they are 16 or over however they must apply for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in their own right, although you can still be their appointee (this means you deal with the claim and receive the money on their behalf).

You can claim DLA for children if you’re in or out of work, because it's not affected by your income or any savings you might have.

You can claim DLA for a child if you are looking after them, so that includes step-parents, guardians, grandparents, foster-carers, and even older brothers or sisters.

Who is this funding for?

Your child doesn't need a diagnosis to make a claim, although it can help if you have one.

3 months of age is the earliest you can apply for DLA. However, if your child has a terminal condition and you’ve been told they may not live for more than 12 months, there are special rules which mean the benefit can be paid from birth.

Usually, to qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) the child must:

  • be under 16
  • need more care or supervision than other children of the same age without a disability or health condition.
  • have had their extra care or mobility needs for at least 3 months, and is expected to have them for at least 6 months more.
  • be in Great Britain, another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland when you claim - there are some exceptions, such as 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. This means that this is where you live and plan to stay.
  • not be subject to immigration control. However, there are concessions for Ukrainian and Afghani asylum-seekers allowed into the UK under special schemes.

Claiming for babies

3 months is usually the earliest you can get the DLA care component (unless your child has a terminal condition). All very young children need a lot of care and attention, so the younger your child, the harder it can be to show they need more help than other babies of the same age. But you can still get DLA if you show that your baby needs a different type of care than other babies, or if that care has to be provided more frequently.

What can the money be used for?

Disability Living Allowance is there to help meet any extra costs associated with caring for a child who is disabled or has a long term health condition, including:

  • higher heating bills
  • special diets, clothing or equipment
  • taxi fares
  • additional laundry or cleaning.

It can also be spent on whatever you wish, such as outings, special interests  or holidays, or put away in a savings account for your child.

The benefit is made up of 2 parts, which they call components:

  • help with personal care (available in 3 rates - lower, middle and higher - depending on your child's level of need)
  • help with getting around (mobility - available in 2 rates)

Your child might qualify for 1 or both components.

How to apply

Download the Disability Living Allowance claim form to apply or order a printed form by telephoning the Disability Living Allowance helpline:

Disability Living Allowance helpline
Telephone: 0800 121 4600
Textphone: 0800 121 4523

The form tells you where to send your application.

It’s preferable to phone the DLA helpline and ask for a form because they will  date-stamp it with the date you made your call, and this will ensure the benefit is paid from the earliest possible point.

Important points to remember when applying:

  • It usually takes around 40 working days to deal with a claim.
  • DLA cannot be backdated. The date of your claim will usually be the date you call the enquiry line. Be sure to return the form to them within 6 weeks. If you miss that date, it will only be paid from the date they receive the form.
  • DLA is usually paid every 4 weeks.
  • All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.
  • Decision makers aren’t medically qualified and rely on the medical information you supply with the claim, plus guidance on disability in children. If they need more evidence, they may write to your GP or hospital consultant.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will send you a decision letter, explaining the reasons for their decision.

Renewing your DLA claim

If your child has been awarded DLA for a fixed period of time, you will be contacted 20 weeks before the end date and invited to re-apply. You will be sent a renewal claim pack to complete.

If your child’s DLA is due to end within 20 weeks and you have not been sent a renewal claim pack, contact the office dealing with your DLA claim as soon as possible.

It’s very important that you return the renewal forms before the current award finishes or you could lose benefit.

Who can support with your application?

Making a claim for DLA can be a long and emotionally draining process, but there are organisations that can support you with your application:

If your claim is rejected first time around, don't give up. The organisations below can help you with your appeal.

If you receive this funding, what else can you get?

If you already get Disability Living Allowance, you could also receive:

Other benefits and increased benefit rates

Help with rent and council tax

If you still get Housing Benefit or support with council tax, then getting DLA for your child may lead to extra benefit if you are not already getting your rent and council tax met in full.  

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is replacing tax credits and other means-tested benefits for people of working age. If you receive Universal Credit and a child who is included in your Universal Credit claim gets DLA, you will qualify for extra Universal Credit payments. You may also get extra universal credit for being that child’s carer, even if your earnings are too high to qualify for carers allowance.

If the amount of help you get with rent through housing benefit or universal credit is restricted because you have been told that you have a spare bedroom, you may be able to show that a child getting DLA needs a room of their own rather than sharing with a sibling. 

When you claim universal credit, you still need to claim council tax support from the Council separately. 

Exemption from ‘benefit cap’

If you have a dependent child who gets DLA, you will be exempt from the ‘benefit cap’ which restricts the total amount of benefit payments that an out of work family can receive.

Carer‘s Allowance (CA)

If your child gets the middle or highest rate of the DLA care component, you may be able to get Carer’s Allowance (CA). To get CA, you must be caring for your child for at least 35 hours per week, you must not be a full-time student and not earning more than £151 per week, after certain deductions. Read more about benefits for carers.

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

Child Tax Credit is assessed more generously when a child gets DLA. Families will qualify for an extra disability element (and a severe disability element if your child is on the highest rate DLA care component).  However, very few new claims for child tax credit are now possible. Working-age claimants would be expected to claim universal credit, and those of pension age and above would claim pension credit.

Help with transport

Help with parking

If your child is awarded the highest rate of the DLA mobility component, then you should qualify for a Blue Badge for help with parking. You might also qualify if your child is aged 2 and over and is either registered blind, or has severe walking problems. In England, Wales, and Scotland, you may also qualify if your child is aged under 3 (under two in Northern Ireland), and needs to be accompanied by bulky medical equipment, or kept near a vehicle for medical reasons.

Help with road tax

If your child is awarded the highest rate of DLA mobility component, you may be exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty. Claimants are usually told about this when they are notified about the award of high rate DLA mobility component.

Help with getting a car

If you’re interested in getting a car and your child is awarded the highest rate of the DLA mobility component, then you can lease a car through the Motability Scheme. To access this scheme your child’s award of the high rate mobility component must have at least 12 months left to run. If you can't drive and need help with paying for lessons, or need help getting a deposit for a car through the scheme then you may qualify for a grant.

Help with bus travel

All local authorities operate schemes for disabled people of any age to apply for a bus pass or voucher for free bus travel. In some areas, an essential, named carer accompanying the disabled person is also entitled to free travel. The scheme operates differently from one local authority to another, so get in touch with your local council to check out what’s available in your area.


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