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Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
On this page we look at the benefits it may be possible for a
young disabled person to claim once they turn 16 years of age.
Personal Independence Payment
(PIP) replaces Disability Living Allowance
(DLA) for adults aged 16-64. DLA will continue as a separate
benefit for children aged under 16 years.
Children getting DLA are asked to claim PIP shortly after their
16 birthday. The only exceptions to this are young people who are
terminally ill and
those who are hospital in-patients. If your child does not
claim PIP when asked to by the Department for Work and Pensions,
their DLA award will end.
Find out more about Personal Independence
Alongside PIP, you may be able to claim other benefits for your
child once they turn 16. If your child stays in certain types of
education or training you will have a choice: you can either carry
on claiming benefits and tax credits for them as part of your
family or you can help them claim benefits such as Universal Credit
in their own right as a young disabled adult. But you will need to
weigh up which option is likely to leave your family better
Continuing to claim for your son or daughter as part of your
As a general rule, Child Benefit, tax credits and other payments
for a young person automatically continue until the September after
their 16th birthday. After that, whether you will be able to
continue getting these payments depends on their circumstances.
When we talk about 'benefits and tax credits' on this page, we
mean the payments listed below:
From the September following a young person's 16th birthday, you
can only carry on getting payments for them as a dependant if they
are attending a course of full-time, non-advanced education, or are
in certain types of approved training.
Payments can then usually continue until their 19th birthday,
unless they stop attending the course or training before that date.
Payments can be extended to their 20th birthday (September after
their 19th birthday for Universal Credit) if they're
completing a course they started, or were enrolled on, or offered a
place on, before they turned 19.
What kind of course counts?
To count as full-time, a young person's course must normally be
for more than 12 hours a week during term time. This includes
classes, tuition and any supervised study. It doesn't include meal
breaks or unsupervised study. Home education may count in some
cases. If a child is in England and is on a course that is defined
as 'appropriate full-time education' then it doesn't matter how
many hours it involves.
A course is non-advanced education when it is below the level of
an HND (HNC in Scotland). This includes:
Other courses may also be classed as non-advanced. If you are
uncertain about the level of your son or daughter's course, seek
Keeping the relevant benefits offices informed
The Child Benefit office will write to you during the school
year that your son or daughter turns 16 to ask if they will be
staying on in full-time education or approved training, and when
you expect them to leave. If you say they are leaving full-time
education or training or if you don't return the form, your Child
Benefit will stop.
The Tax Credits Office automatically assumes any young person
aged 16 will leave education in the summer after they turn 16. They
automatically stop any payments for them from the September after
their 16th birthday. For tax credits to continue, you must contact
the Tax Credits Office during the summer on 0345 300 3900 to tell
them the young person will continue in non-advanced education or
Similarly if you have a 17, 18 or 19 year old who will be
staying on in education after the summer holidays, make sure that
you let the Tax Credits Office know.
If a young person gets a bursary or other funding to attend their
course, will this affect the payments I get?
Student funding will not affect any benefits or tax credits you
get for your child. The only exception to this is if you get Income
Support and your award includes extra payments for your children
because have not claimed Child Tax Credit yet. Seek further advice
if this applies to you.
Student funding, apart from Education Maintenance Allowance
(EMA) and the 16-19 bursary, can impact on means-tested benefits
claimed by your son or daughter in their own right as a young
adult. Call our
freephone helpline for further advice.
In some parts of the UK, young people on an approved training
course can still get a training allowance. It may be possible to
continue claiming Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit or Universal
Credit payments for your son or daughter in these circumstances.
Seek further advice.
If they are on a training course that is not classed as
'approved training' then Child Benefit and other payments you get
for them as part of your family will stop.
If your child is temporarily unable to continue their studies
(for example because of ill-health) then you may still be able to
get child benefit and tax credits for them. Unfortunately any
Universal Credit payments you get for them as a child are likely to
stop. Call our free helpline for advice about
claiming benefits during a temporary interruption in education.
Once a child has left non-advanced education or training, you
cannot normally continue to claim benefits for them as a
If a young person leaves school to move into advanced education,
such as a university course, any benefits and tax credits you claim
for them as your dependant will stop. They will need individual
advice about claiming Universal Credit as a disabled student.
Contact our free helpline.
If a young person starts a training course then you can only
continue to claim benefits for them as part of your family if they
are in 'approved training'. If it is not approved training you will
no longer be able to claim benefits for them as a dependent.
Contact our free helpline for more
If a young person leaves school or college to start working, you
will no longer get benefits or tax credits for them as your
dependant. They will need individual advice about whether they will
get any Universal Credit to top up their earnings.
If you have a disabled son or daughter who is not in education,
training or work and they should be able to claim Universal
Many young disabled people in education or training have the
option of claiming benefits in their own right.
Most young disabled people have the option of claiming Universal
Credit as a young disabled adult. A very small number of
disabled youngsters may be exempt from Universal Credit and can
instead claim income related Employment and Support allowance.
However this will only apply if your son or daughter has already
been getting another means tested benefit in their own right that
includes a payment known as the 'severe disability premium'. Phone
our free Helpline for further advice if you think this applies to
If they claim either Universal Credit or income related
Employment and Support Allowance you will lose any benefits you get
for them as part of your family. This is the case even if they
remain in full-time non-advanced education or approved
Given this you will need to think carefully about whether you
help them claim in their own right or continue claiming benefits
for them as part of your family.
Universal Credit is a means tested benefit but if your son or
daughter claims it, the DWP will only look at their income and
capital and not yours.
Will we be better off if my son or daughter claims benefits in
their own right?
This will depend on your family circumstances. You need to
compare how much they will get if they claim in their own right
with what you will lose from your benefits and tax credits.
If your family income is high and you don't qualify for much in
tax credits or Universal Credit - there is a good chance your
household will be better off if your child claims benefits in their
Families with a lower income - who therefore get higher tax
credit or Universal Credit payments - run the risk that they will
be worse off if a young person claims benefits in their own right.
The higher your own means tested payments, the less chance you will
gain if your son or daughter claims in their own right.
In some circumstances, you will also see a reduction in help you
get with rent and Council Tax.
Claiming Universal Credit for a young person
If your son or daughter wants to claim Universal Credit (UC)
they are will need to get a medical certificate from their GP -
known as a statement of fitness for work or a 'fit note'. Having a
fit note will allow them to start claiming UC straightaway so long
as they are not treated as in education.
If your child is treated as receiving education, the situation
is more complicated. A young person in full-time education can only
claim Universal Credit if they get either DLA or PIP
and they are also assessed as having a limited
capability for work. This means that they need to submit medical
certificates (known as fit-notes) and then wait to be put through
an assessment known as the 'work capability assessment' by the
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The problem is that
it can take several months for this assessment to be completed and
for the DWP to accept that someone has a limited capability for
This means that there is likely to be a lengthy delay before
Universal Credit payments start for a young person who is in
education. Contact our free helpline for further
information about claiming Universal Credit for a young person who
is in education.
Getting Universal Credit and charges for adult
If your son or daughter is aged 18 or over and getting
residential or community care services through the local
authority's adult team, getting Universal Credit could lead to them
being asked to pay some charges towards those services. Contact our free helpline
for further information.
Education Maintenance Allowance and the 16-19 bursary
Young people who stay on at school or college may be able to
apply for other types of financial help. The Education Maintenance
Allowance (EMA) is a weekly payment for young people in Scotland,
Northern Ireland and Wales who stay on in full-time, non-advanced
education after the age of 16. Whether a young person qualifies
depends on parental income. The rules vary are different in Scotland,
In England EMA was replaced by the 16-19 bursary fund. A young
person who gets either DLA or PIP, and who also gets Employment and
Support Allowance or Universal Credit, may get a 'vulnerable
bursary' of £1,200 a year, so long as they are on an eligible
Payment of EMA or a 16-19 bursary doesn't affect any of the
benefits or tax credits that you receive. Neither will it affect
any payments your child gets if they are claiming benefits in their
However, if your son or daughter claims Universal Credit or ESA
in order to access the vulnerable student's 16-19 bursary, the fact
that they start to receive Universal Credit means that you will no
longer be able to receive benefits such as tax credits and Child
Benefit for them as a dependent child.
For more information about EMA, the 16-19 bursary and training
allowances, please call our freephone helpline.
If you claim Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit
amounts for your child as a dependant, these are always paid to
either you or your partner.
From the age of 16, Personal Independence Payment
(PIP) will usually be paid directly to your son or daughter.
Also, if they claim Universal Credit or any other benefits in their
own right as a young adult, this will usually be paid to them
rather than to you.
The only exception to this is if they lack the mental capacity
to manage their own affairs. If this is the case, you may be able
to receive and manage benefits for them, acting as their
What is an
If your child is unable to manage their own benefits, you can
become their appointee. This means that the DWP give you the
responsibility to make claims on their behalf and for managing any
benefits payments they get. You will also be responsible for
keeping the DWP informed of any changes in your child's
Becoming an appointee only gives you the power to manage their
benefits. It does not give you any wider rights to deal with their
How do I become an appointee?
If your child already gets DLA, the DWP should write to you in
the six months before your child turns 16. They should do this at
the same time as they send you information about moving onto PIP.
If this doesn't happen automatically, or if your child loses the
capacity to manage their benefits at some point after they turn 16,
contact the DWP to tell them that you think your child needs an
The DWP will arrange for one of their staff to do a home visit
in order to assess if an appointee is required. You will only be
made an appointee if the DWP agree that your child lacks the
capacity to manage their own affairs. Usually this will be due to
mental capacity but in exceptional circumstances it can be because
of a physical disability. You can't become an appointee simply
because it is more convenient for you or your child.
If you have already been appointed by the courts to look after
their affairs e.g. as a deputy or guardian, you won't have to do
anything else except provide evidence of these court appointed