Disability Living Allowance (DLA)


Watch our video challenging the myths around eligibility for Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is the main benefit for children and adults with a condition or disability. DLA helps to meet the extra costs that you might have as a result of your child's disability.

You can claim DLA even if your child does not have a diagnosis. It is sufficient that they have some form of disability even if this has not yet been formally diagnosed.

DLA is made up of two components. Depending on their circumstances your child may qualify for one or both.

Care component

If your child needs a lot of extra watching over or help with personal care, they should qualify for the care component of DLA.

The care component is paid at one of three different rates depending on how much extra care your child needs. It can be paid from age three months or from birth if a child is terminally ill.

Mobility component

The mobility component is paid to children who need help getting around. It is paid at one of two rates depending on the nature of the mobility problems.

The lower rate mobility component can be paid from age five. It is for children who need extra guidance or supervision out of doors.  

The higher rate mobility component can be paid from age three. It is for those with severe walking difficulties, those who are deaf blind or severely visually impaired and some children with severe behavioural problems.

Other eligibility rules

DLA is not means-tested so it does not matter what income or savings you have. Any decision to award DLA will be based on how your child's condition impacts on their day to day life.

Your child will also have to meet certain rules linked to their immigration status and the length of time they have lived in the UK.

There are some specific rules that allow some children with learning difficulties or autistic spectrum disorders to qualify for the high rate mobility component. Read our free parent guide Disability living allowance - claiming the higher rate mobility component for children with learning disabilities and Autism Spectrum disorders [PDF].

Payment of DLA can be affected by stays in residential accommodation.

DLA used to be affected by stays in hospital, but the DLA hospital rules have now been scrapped for children under 18. So long as your child was under 18 when they entered hospital, they can claim and receive DLA (or Personal Independent Payment) as normal despite the fact they are an in-patient.

Read more information about DLA and children in hospital.  

How much will I receive?

The weekly rates from April 2017 - March 2018 are:

Lowest care - £22.00

Middle care - £55.65

Highest care - £83.10

The mobility component weekly rates from April 2017 - March 2018 are:

Lower mobility - £22.00

Higher mobility: £58.00

How to claim DLA

There is a specific form that is used for claiming DLA for a child, called DLA1A Child.

When claiming it is very important to put as much information as you can about your child's needs. Any information provided by a professional involved with your child's care may also help. If a child has a terminal illness a claim can be made under 'special rules'. Call our helpline for more details.

Order a claim form from the DLA Unit by calling 0800 121 4600, or for Northern Ireland call 0800 587 0912.

Tips and advice on completing the DLA form

We have put together some tips and advice on completing the more difficult parts of the DLA1A Child form.

If possible get specialist advice from a welfare benefits adviser or someone else who is familiar with completing the form.

Our national freephone helpline can put you in touch with local help to complete the form. Call 0808 808 3555 today to find out more.

We recommend that you keep a diary for a week before tackling the form. This will be used for providing evidence of your child's extra needs.

Claiming DLA and child tax credit

Getting DLA can help you qualify for extra amounts of other means-tested benefits and tax credits.

You are eligible for extra child tax credits if either your child is awarded DLA or an existing DLA award is increased to the higher rate care component.

Tell the tax credits office within one month of getting the DLA decision and any extra tax credits should be backdated in line with the DLA award.

Future changes: DLA and Personal Independence Payment

The government is currently replacing DLA for 16-65 year olds with a new benefit called the Personal Independence Payment. However DLA will continue to apply to children aged under 16.

Related information

< Back to Benefits & tax credits

> Next to Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Did you find this advice useful?

This information was written by our invaluable Family Finances Helpline team. Although all our information is free to access, we depend on donations to keep our charity going. If you can, please donate to our Lifeline Appeal to help us continue to fund our helpline team.