DLA and other financial help

5 mins read

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is the main benefit for disabled children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is not taxable, and it doesn’t count as income for other benefits.

Instead, getting DLA can lead to an increase in other benefits you receive. It can also help you qualify for entitlements for the first time. And getting an increased rate award may lead to something else.

Getting DLA can mean you’re eligible for other forms of financial support too.

In this article

Carer’s Allowance

If your child gets the middle or the highest rate of the DLA care component, the benefits system might start to treat you as a carer.

This means you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance as your child’s carer. If you are getting Universal Credit, you can become exempt from having to take any steps to look for work as a condition of your claim. You may also be able to access an extra Universal Credit payment known as the carer element.

Carer’s Allowance can be backdated in line with the DLA award, as long as you apply within three months of getting the DLA decision. If you apply later, Carer’s Allowance can only be backdated for three months.

Extra tax credits or Universal Credit payments

If your family gets Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit, you’ll get extra payments for a child who gets DLA. This also applies for a child whose existing DLA award increases to the highest rate of the care component.

Your payments will increase by anything from £29 to £90 a week. This depends on the rate of DLA your child gets. See our Universal Credit webpage for more information on eligibility and payment rates.

If you receive tax credits, make sure you tell the Tax Credit Office within one month of getting the DLA decision. If you delay in telling them, you won’t get the extra tax credits backdated more than one month.

If you get Universal Credit, the backdating rules are more generous. Under Universal Credit, arrears of the disabled child addition should be automatically backdated either to the date your Universal Credit claim started or to the date that your child’s DLA award started – whichever is the most recent. This applies even if there was a delay in telling Universal Credit that your child is on DLA. If Universal Credit try to argue that this payment cannot be backdated in full, call our freephone helpline.

Income Support

Some families who claimed Income Support before the introduction of tax credits still get extra payments for their children in their Income Support.

For these families, getting DLA will lead to getting extra money in Income Support. This is the disabled child premium (and an enhanced disability premium if your child gets the highest rate of the care component).

You will need to let the office dealing with the Income Support claim know about the DLA award.

Help with rent and council tax

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

If:

  • Your disabled child cannot share a bedroom.
  • Because of this, the bedroom tax or local housing allowance rules reduce your Housing Benefit.

Then getting DLA care component at the middle or highest rate for them may help you get more Housing Benefit. Or you may get more help with rent from Universal Credit if you are a tenant. Call our freephone helpline for further advice.

Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and support with council tax are means-tested. Any award will depend on your income and circumstances.

There are other ways of getting help with council tax that don’t depend on income or savings, but do depend on there being a disabled occupant within your household.

Exemption from the ‘benefit cap’

If you have a dependent child (a child aged under 16, or aged 16-19 if part of your family for benefit claims) who gets DLA, you will be exempt from the ‘benefit cap’.

The benefit cap restricts the total amount of benefit payments that an out of work family can receive.

Help with transport and getting around

You might qualify for the Blue Badge disabled parking scheme. You could get help with getting a car and road tax and discounts on bus travel.

See our page on transport and leisure discounts.

Free early education for two-year-olds in England

If you live in England and have a two-year-old who gets DLA, this should mean they qualify for 15 hours a week free early years education and childcare.

See gov.uk for more details.

Help with heating bills

Low income families who have a child on DLA can apply for the Warm Home Discount scheme. This is a rebate of £140 on your winter fuel bill.