DLA: Your top 5 questions answered

9 mins read

Monday 20 March 2023

Tags: dla, disability living allowance

As part of our focus on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Child Disability Payment (CDP) in February, our helpline team hosted a special Q&A session in our Facebook Group so parent carers in the UK could ask questions and get expert advice on these vital benefits that can help meet some of the extra costs of raising a disabled child.

The parents who joined us asked a range of questions about DLA and its Scottish equivalent, CDP. Many were new to DLA and were still getting to grips with the long application form and what they needed to fill it in. Some were unsure if their child would be eligible for it. Others were concerned that applying for DLA may trigger the DWP to move them onto Universal Credit.

If you weren’t able to join the Q&A, we’ve rounded up the top 5 questions asked – and our answers – below. You can read the rest of the Q&A in our Facebook Group.

1. My son’s EHCP isn’t up to date, so I don’t want to include it as evidence in the DLA renewal form until it’s updated to reflect his needs. Would this go against my claim?

Not including the Education, Health and Care (EHC) planshould not got against your son’s claim. In fact, it is very important to check that any evidence you submit provides an accurate picture of your child’s needs, because it may harm your claim if it doesn’t. If you feel that a report minimises the amount of support your child requires, you may choose not to submit it.

However, it’s probably worth stating somewhere in the form that you are waiting for an updated EHC plan. If the new plan does accurately reflect his needs, you could always send that later. You can send extra evidence to the same address you sent the DLA form to – just make sure to write your son’s name, address and DLA number on the top.

If you’d like some advice about the EHC plan itself, take a look at our EHCP webpage or get in touch with our helpline and one of our education specialists will be able to advise you.

2. Will a DLA claim force a move from tax credits to Universal Credit? I know we’ll be migrated eventually, but for now we don’t want to do anything that would trigger a change in circumstances.

Making a claim for DLA will not trigger you to be moved to Universal Credit. DLA exists as a separate benefit. It is also not taxable and does not count as income for other benefits.

Similarly, notifying the Tax Credits Office that your child gets DLA (or the Scottish CDP) will not lead to having to claim Universal Credit either. They will treat this as a review of an existing tax credits claim, not as a new tax credits claim.

Instead, claiming DLA or CDP – or getting an existing award increased – can often lead to an increase in tax credits and other benefits you receive. It can also help you qualify for certain entitlements for the first time. Visit our webpage on DLA and other financial help for to read about the extra financial help you may be eligible for if your child gets DLA.

3. Can I have some advice on the DLA mobility component? My child is virtually unable to walk and has mechanical musculoskeletal pain.

DLA for children has two components: care and mobility. The care component is paid if your child needs a lot of extra care or support, and the mobility component is paid if your child needs help getting around. DLA mobility is paid at one of two rates depending on the nature of your child’s mobility problems.

The lower mobility component is paid from the age of five for children who need extra guidance or supervision outdoors. The higher rate of the mobility payment is paid from the age of three for those with severe walking difficulties (though not necessarily due to a physical disability) or for those who are deafblind or severely visually impaired.

There are also specific rules that allow some children with learning disabilities or autistic spectrum disorders to qualify for higher rate mobility on the grounds of ‘severe mental impairment and behavioural problems’ or on the basis that they are ‘virtually unable to walk’, as you have pointed out.

The ‘virtually unable to walk’ test looks at a child’s ability to walk outside, as well as any ‘interruptions’ in their ability to make progress on foot. The ‘interruptions’ must be part of a physical disability or have a physical cause, rather than being under conscious control.

In deciding whether your child is virtually unable to walk, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should take into account the speed, length of time and manner of walking, as well as the distance your child can cover before they start to experience severe discomfort (for example, breathlessness or pain).

To see the full eligibility criteria for the ‘virtually unable to walk’ test, and for advice on how best to describe your child’s walking difficulties and provide evidence, take a look at our factsheet on higher rate mobility.

You can also watch our Higher Rate Mobility webinar for even more in-depth advice. Many parents have told us that their claim was successful thanks to the information in this webinar.

Finally, see our tips for completing the DLA form and scroll down to ‘Questions 43-53’. You’ll find another advice video from our benefits expert Derek, as well as lots of guiding questions to help you think about which details to include in your answers.

4. I’m applying for DLA for my son, who is autistic and has ADHD. In terms of evidence to include, I have his diagnosis assessment, language and communication reports, letter from CAHMS, educational psychology letter and his EHCP. Will this be enough?

In order to be eligible for DLA, you need to show that your son needs substantially more care or supervision than other children of the same age who don’t have a disability or health condition (regardless of whether he has a formal diagnosis). Any decision to award DLA will be based on how your son’s condition impacts on their day-to-day life.

The important thing to remember is that any decision on your claim will be made by someone who has never seen your son before, so you need to make clear all the extra care and support he needs. As well as submitting professional evidence, it can be really useful to provide examples and anecdotes of the types of help that your son needs, rather than simply relying on the form’s tick boxes. However, the latest version of the DLA form has fewer text boxes for adding extra information and largely relies on tick boxes. If you feel that this doesn’t allow you to describe the complexity of your son’s needs in enough detail, you can use the extra text boxes on pages 19, 34 and 37 or even attach extra sheets of paper to provide more information.

Before submitting any reports from professionals, check to see if you agree that they are an accurate picture of your son’s needs. If you feel that a report minimises the amount of support he requires, you can choose not to submit it.

Take a look at our tips for completing the form and at the question-by-question advice in our DLA Guide (from page 16) while you go over your answers. This will help to ensure that you have not only included enough information under each question, but that you have also worded your answers as best as possible by interpreting each question in the same way as the DWP decision-maker will. For example, certain terms in the DLA form have specific definitions (which we explain in our guide), so it’s important to know how the DWP will interpret your answers.

5. My daughter is 2 and has a rare genetic syndrome. We decided to apply for DLA in October, before she had completed all the tests required to get her health issues diagnosed and start treatment. They turned us down this week. Is it worth requesting a mandatory reconsideration?

It’s definitely worth challenging this decision and requesting a mandatory reconsideration. You may find the AdviceNow mandatory reconsideration letter tool useful for this.

Many parents who are initially refused DLA are able to get an award after successfully challenging the original decision. You can do this by phone or in writing, normally within one month of the decision date. Then, if you are still not happy with the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration, you can request an appeal.

Make sure to read the question-by-question advice in our DLA guide and follow our tips for completing the form in order to maximise your chances of getting the award your daughter needs.

Make sure you don’t miss out on DLA

DLA is available to families living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A new benefit – the Child Disability Payment – has replaced new claims for DLA in Scotland. See our webpage on welfare benefits in Scotland for more information.

We have lots of information about DLA on our website to help you claim, as well as a comprehensive DLA parent guide. And if you’re new to DLA, you can also watch our DLA introduction videos to learn more about this important benefit, who is eligible and how to apply.