Home Help for families Information & advice Benefits & tax credits Benefits you might be entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Tips on completing the DLA form
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On this page we offer some general top tips on completing the DLA1 child (ALT) form, along with brief explanations of some of the more difficult parts of the form and the kind of information to include.
Please remember that a decision on your child’s claim will be made by someone who has never seen your child. They may have little or no knowledge about your child’s condition.
It is important that you make clear all the extra care and support that your child needs. Don’t assume that the decision maker will already have this understanding.
The latest version of the claim form has fewer text boxes for adding information than previous versions. It largely relies on tick boxes. If you feel that this doesn’t allow you to describe your child’s needs in enough detail, use the extra text boxes on pages 19,34 and 37 to provide more information.
You may also wish to consider attaching extra sheets of paper with additional information in order to capture the complexity of your child’s needs. It can be really useful to provide examples and anecdotes of the types of help that your child needs, rather than simply relying on the tick boxes. This should help ensure that the decision maker has a more detailed and clearer understanding of your child’s needs.
Reward yourself when the form is finished. Filling in the DLA form can be time-consuming. And because you’re concentrating on the things your child can’t do, it can feel stressful and demoralising. But if you get the DLA, it will be worth it in the end.
These questions gather general information about your child. This includes details about their identity, nationality, disability, and details of any medical or health professionals involved in their care. This section also asks you about any stays your child has had in hospital or residential care within the last 12 months.
A paid carer, relative or friend, health care professional, social worker or a teacher can fill this in. Ideally, it should be written by a professional with regular involvement in your child’s care. This could be a medical specialist or, if your child’s needs are mainly to do with learning, a specialist teacher.
It is very important to check that the statement is supportive and not harmful to the claim. Copy the blank statement page and give it to the person writing the statement. You can attach it to your claim. If you’re unhappy with what they have said, you can ask them to change it. If they won’t, you can ask another professional to write this part or just leave it blank.
You don’t need to enter a lot of detail here. But make sure you write the name of each condition your child has been diagnosed with, for example, ‘ADHD’ or ‘Down syndrome’.
If your child doesn’t have a diagnosis, or if they have difficulties separate from a diagnosis you’ve already mentioned, put a general description of these too (for example ‘eating and feeding problems’ or ‘behavioural problems’).
If your child’s condition varies, you can still get DLA as long as there is a pattern of substantial care needs or mobility problems. They might have days or weeks when they need less help.
Tick any box that apples to your child, even if it doesn’t apply all the time. You can explain more about any variation in needs in the boxes below each set of tick box questions and at question 65 about “more information”.
It is a good idea to keep a diary over a period of a week or longer if your child’s condition varies a lot.
Use the terms ‘bad days’ and ‘better days’ to describe changes if your child has a fluctuating condition. Using terms like ‘good days’ or ‘normal days’ can imply your child needs no extra help on these days.
Help with mobility applies to children whose problems getting around are caused by learning or behavioural conditions, as well as to children with a physical disability.
If your child has physical problems which affect their walking outdoors, you should answer questions 43-48 and question 51.
If your child can walk, it is important to describe how they walk (for example with a limp or shuffle).
List the effects walking has on their condition. This may include fatigue, breathlessness or nausea, or that walking makes their condition worse.
When assessing how far your child can walk, remember that any distance covered after they’ve started to feel severe discomfort is not counted. Ask yourself:
If your child can physically walk without major problems but needs guidance or supervision in places they are unfamiliar with, you should answer questions 49-53.
Think about why your child needs more guidance or supervision than children the same age:
Even if your child is of an age where no child would be allowed out of doors by themselves, they may still need more guidance or supervision than other children of the same age.
Question 49 asks about unpredictable behaviour and the need for restraint. These questions relate to the higher rate mobility and severe behavioural problems.
If this describes your child’s behaviour, give as much detail as possible about these issues in the box at question 53. Do they get distressed and likely to hit out at you or other people or harm themselves in some way? Do they run away suddenly without attention to dangers like traffic?
This asks you the date your child first started to have the problems with getting around you have described. Your child must have had mobility problems for at least three months before they can get any payment of the mobility component. An exception to this is made if a child is terminally ill under the special rules.
If your child is awarded the higher rate mobility component, you’ll have the option of using that money to lease a car or wheelchair under the Motability scheme. Complete this question if you would like to receive information about the Motability scheme and how it works.
These sections cover the extra help your child needs with their day-to-day care. Fill them in not only if your child needs physical help or support but also if they need encouragement or verbal prompting, with tasks.
Try to think about how your child’s needs differ from a child of the same age without any disabilities. Make clear if you have to do more to help your child or if things take longer to do.
Explain any discomfort your child experiences because of pain or stiffness when waking up.
They may be physically unable to get out of bed without help. Or they might not have the motivation to get up because of their condition and need lots of reassurance and persuasion to get out of bed. Medication may also affect your child’s sleep and waking up.
Explain if you have to get up straight away in case they do something dangerous or are disruptive.
Think about similar difficulties when going to bed. Your child may still be wide awake when put to bed or refuse to settle.
Explain what help you give them to overcome this, like comfort and reassurance techniques, or medication, or treatments. You should also say how long this takes.
You will need to explain any difficulties during the night at Question 70. As well as writing about what help you give your child to stay clean and manage their continence (washing, bathing, applying creams, changing pads, checking clothing or changing bedding), you also need to give information about any difficulties. These can include:
Include here a description of the help your child needs getting around inside. For example, your child may have mobility difficulties that mean they:
Washing and bathing includes all issues with personal hygiene.
Your child may need extra help bathing, washing, or showering and they might take longer than other children of the same age. For example:
Include things like:
Here you should list any problems your child has with sucking, chewing and swallowing, and any equipment like a feeding tube to help overcome those difficulties. For example:
As well as giving details about medicines, include any difficulties your child has receiving them or taking them by themself (forgetfulness, discomfort, distress, side effects). Describe how you help overcome this (encouragement and reassurance, even after medication has been given).
As well as injections and tablets, include information about any eye drops, creams, dressings and enemas your child needs.
Include details of any physiotherapy, speech therapy, hydrotherapy, play therapy, counselling and behavioural therapy. Include any exercises you have to do at home.
Therapy also means help with any medical equipment. This includes nebulisers, monitoring equipment, meters, needles for injections or blood tests, thermometers, tube feeding, catheters and breathing equipment.
List any difficulties with using equipment, help you give to your child and the length of time it takes. Include time spent on preparing and cleaning equipment.
This section gathers information about the extent of any visual impairment your child has.
As well as filling in this section, it’s important to make sure you also explain how your child’s visual impairment impacts on any of the specific areas covered in the other parts of the form.
For example, a child with a visual impairment may need help with dressing, with washing, teeth brushing and looking after their appearance, help at mealtimes and help to get around safely both indoors and outside.
Young children with a visual impairment may also need more help in learning through play.
If a child can’t see everyday objects, they are less likely to become spontaneously curious about things around them. As a result, you may need to spend much more time actively introducing objects through touch or verbal description. This should be taken into account as extra care and support.
School-age children may require help with reading, not only school books and texts but also from boards and projectors. They may need help in describing graphs, pictures, charts or scientific experiments.
They may also need guidance and supervision, not only to get to and from school but also to get around the school and playground, and to take part in physical education (PE).
If your child has a certificate of visual impairment you should send a copy of this along with the form.
It is important to say what help your child needs because of problems with vision or hearing. You may have to spend more time explaining everyday things such as what is happening on the television.
This section is to find out the extent of your child’s hearing impairment.
As well as completing the questions on the form, it is important to explain help your child needs because of hearing loss. You may be able to explain their need for extra help or supervision throughout the rest of the form.
Perhaps it takes longer for your child to receive instructions about how to carry out certain activities. You may have to spend more time explaining everyday things such as what is happening on the television, or bringing to their attention certain sounds such as traffic, alarms or announcements.
Things to consider might be your child’s need for extra supervision because they can’t hear danger approaching. They may become upset easily as they don’t get a warning of when things happen.
You might have to make more effort to get their attention so that you can speak to them face to face. They may need help with hearing aids – taking them off, putting them on and adjusting them.
Include any evidence from a specialist which shows the extent of your child’s hearing loss.
If your child needs help to communicate with other people fill in questions 46-47.
A child may be unwilling to communicate because they have a limited understanding of their environment, or only choose to talk about things they feel are relevant to them and are comfortable with. Your child may become angry or frustrated trying to communicate. For example:
Write down the different ways your child is helped with communication and what would happen without this help.
This applies if your child has symptoms like fits, convulsions, fainting, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or asthma attacks.
Explain when these attacks happen, how often, and if there are any warning signs beforehand. What happens during and after an attack?
Remember – if your child has attacks and needs someone to keep an eye on them all the time, write this here.
This section looks at whether your child needs someone to watch over them during the day to make sure that they are safe and to ensure that they are not a risk to themselves or to others.
All young children, whether disabled or not, routinely require supervision. So the younger your child is, the more important it is for you to say how the supervision they need is greater, or different, to another child of their age.
Think about what could happen to your child without regular or frequent supervision. For example:
This section includes help that your child needs to interact with and make sense of the world around them.
For example, your child may find it difficult to interact or play with others. This may be due to problems with understanding or communication.
They may need to spend time on their own because their behaviour becomes aggressive or inappropriate. This may affect your child’s development through play. They may need help to play with other children and in how they should behave.
Any physical difficulties can also make it harder for children to play because of difficulties with coordination or manipulation. A visually-impaired child may need more attention than others.
Specially adapted toys or tactile toys don’t necessarily mean difficulties with play are resolved, because your child might need help finding or manipulating the toy, otherwise they’ll become frustrated. They might need help maintaining their interest which means you need to give them extra attention. Or you may need to supervise to prevent harm to your child or other children.
This section gathers information about any extra support, care or supervision your child needs at school or nursery.
This can include any extra support to help them learn, but also any extra help they need to manage behaviour, get around the school or nursery safely or to mix with other children in the playground. You should also think about whether they need help at school with things like using the toilet, taking medication or having their lunch.
If your child has a statement of special educational need, Individual Behaviour Plan, Education, Health and Care plan, or in Scotland a co-ordinated support plan the claim form asks you to send these (see page 6 of claim form). However, if you feel that your child’s statement or plan does not fully reflect all of their needs it is important that you make this clear somewhere on the claim form and highlight any other needs not identified in the school or nursery report.
If you feel that the school report misrepresents your child’s needs you may choose not to submit it at all. Call our freephone helpline for further advice.
Include here details of any help your child needs when they go out during the day or night for social and leisure activities, and any support needed for hobbies.
This includes visits to the park, clubs, sport activities, going to the cinema, swimming, visiting relatives, drawing, playing on the computer, and watching television. These are just some examples and you should include any interests that your child has and what help they need.
If there are activities your child would like to do if only they had extra help, then list the additional support that would be needed to allow this.
Complete this section if you have to get up in the night to help with your child’s care needs.
Night-time is the time between when you go to bed until you get up. If you stay up later than you want to because your child does not settle in bed, or if you get up very early, these times also count as night-time.
These are just some examples of night-time needs:
Use this section to say if you need to get up at night to give comfort to your child because they wake up upset and agitated, if they have a disturbed sleep pattern and can’t settle or if they get up and wander.
This asks you the date that your child first started to have the care needs that you have described.
Normally your child must have needed extra care or supervision for at least three months before they can receive any payments of the care component. An exception to this is made where a child is terminally ill and claiming under the special rules – see page 2.
You may wish to use the space provided to explain more about your child’s condition and how it affects them. For example, how their condition might vary, or how their mental health is affected by their condition.
Any document, letter or statement can be sent with the claim but it is very important to check that any evidence you send accurately describes your child’s needs. If it doesn’t then this may harm your claim.
Evidence can include information from a health professional involved with your child’s care, like a GP, nurse, paediatrician, speech and language therapist, or occupational therapist. Call the Contact a Family freephone helpline for more information.
Giving detailed medical information may lead to a quicker decision and reduce the chances of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) arranging for more reports on your child’s condition (see section on page 6 of the form, ‘Do you have any reports, letters or assessments about the child’s illnesses or disabilities?’).
Evidence of your child’s special educational needs can also be attached (but see Question 51).
You can ask friends, carers or relatives to give supporting evidence.
A diary of the past week giving an account of your child’s difficulties, the help you gave and how long it took each time can be very helpful.
If you’re nearing the six week deadline, you should send the completed form off without waiting for additional evidence. Attach a letter saying you will send more evidence and when they can expect it.
Your claim will be assessed by a ‘decision maker.’ If they’re still unclear about how your child’s condition affects their care and mobility needs, they can arrange for a DWP approved doctor to visit you to examine them and prepare a medical report. This can lead to delays.
If you feel the claim is taking too long, then you can make a complaint to the customer services manager at the office dealing with your claim.
There are no specific questions in the form about your child’s mental health.
Children with disabilities, coping with their condition, can feel frustrated, isolated and upset at times. These can be described as mental health difficulties.
This could apply if your child is withdrawn, anxious or depressed, behaves aggressively or gets angry and is uncooperative. They might act impulsively, have nightmares, or have difficulty coping with routine changes.
You may have been able to fit this into your answers to some of the other questions but if not, then it is important to give more details at Question 72 ‘More Information’, or as an attached sheet.
Say what the difficulties are that your child experiences and also what help you give to overcome or minimise their effects. You might include:
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