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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. 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 help
them claim in their own right as a young disabled adult. But you
will need to weigh up which option is likely to leave your family
Continuing to claim for your son or daughter as part of your
As a general rule, you can claim Child Benefit, tax credits and
other payments for a young person 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 - see more below - can impact on means-tested
benefits claimed by your son or daughter in their own right. Call
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 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.
Many young disabled people in education or training have the
option of claiming benefits in their own right.
Depending on the postcode they live in they may be able to claim
either Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal
Credit. However if they claim either of these benefits, or if
they claim Income Support, income-based Job Seeker's Allowance or
tax credits in their own right, 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.
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 any
Child Tax Credit - or you only receive a small amount of Child Tax
Credit - there is a good chance your household will be better off
if your child claims benefits in their own right.
Families with a lower income - who therefore get higher tax
credit payments - run the risk that they will be worse off if a
young person claims benefits in their own right. The higher your
tax credit payments, the less chance you will gain if your son or
daughter claims in their own right.
In some circumstances, you could not only lose Child Benefit and
tax credit payments, but also see a reduction in help with Housing
Benefit and Council Tax. Also, some young people on Employment and
Support Allowance in England lose their right to free
Claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit for
a young person
If your son or daughter wants to claim Employment and Support
Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit they 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 ESA. However, they will also be put through a Department
for Work and Pensions (DWP) medical assessment within the first
three months of their claim. ESA only continues in the longer term
if the DWP agrees that your child has a limited capability for
There are two types of ESA - contributory ESA and income-related
ESA. Most young disabled people will not have sufficient national
insurance contributions to get contributory ESA and will need to
claim income-related ESA instead. Although students cannot normally
claim income-related ESA, special rules allow you to claim if you a
student who is are getting either Disability Living Allowance
(DLA) or Personal Independence Payment
Because income-related ESA is means tested, the amount your
child gets will depend on if they have other income or any capital
above £6,000. See
our guide to PIP and other benefits at 16 for more information
If your child lives in an area where income-related ESA has been
replaced by Universal Credit, 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. The problem is
that it can take several months for someone to be assessed as
having a limited capability for work, so there is likely to be a
lengthy delay before Universal Credit payments start.
Getting Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit and
charges for adult services
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 ESA or 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 ESA in order to access
the vulnerable student's 16-19 bursary, the fact that they start to
receive ESA means that you will no longer be able to receive
benefits such as tax credits and Child Benefit for them as a
For more information about EMA, the 16-19 bursary and training
allowances, please call our freephone helpline.
Who will be paid the benefits for my child?
If you claim Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit for your child as
a dependant, they are always paid to either you or your
From the age of 16, Disability Living Allowance
(DLA) or Personal Independence Payment
(PIP) will usually be paid directly to your son or daughter.
Also, if they claim Employment and Support Allowance or any other
benefits as a young adult (see below), these will usually be paid
to them rather than to you.
The only exception 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 as their appointee.
If your child is temporarily unable to attend their course then
you may still be able to get child benefit and tax credits for
them. Call our
free helpline for advice about claiming benefits during a
temporary interruption in education.
However, once a child has left non-advanced education or
training, you cannot normally continue to claim benefits for them
as a dependant.
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 what benefits they might be able to claim 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 then you
will no longer be able to claim benefits or tax credits for them.
free helpline for more advice.
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 what benefits
they may be able to claim as a disabled worker.
If you have a disabled son or daughter who is not in education,
training or work then they should be able to claim either
Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit. Which of these two
options is available will depend on their postcode area and whether
this is part of the Universal Credit 'full service'.