Missing the disability element of Child Tax Credit

4 mins read

This advice applies across the UK.

Frequently asked questions and answers for families who’ve missed out on the disability element of their Child Tax Credit award.

In this article

What is the disability element of Child Tax Credit?

The disability element is an extra amount that is added into your Child Tax Credit award. It is worth an extra £74.69 per week for each child in your family who qualifies.

Who qualifies for the disability element?

You should get a disabled child element for each child who is either registered blind or on one of:

These are known as qualifying disability benefits.

If a child gets one of these benefits at the highest rate of the care component (or the enhanced rate of the daily living component) you should also get a further £30.17 per week added to your tax credit award. This payment is known as the severe disability element of Child Tax Credit.

How could I miss out on the disabled child element?

You’ll miss out on this payment if the Tax Credit Office doesn’t know your child receives a qualifying disability benefit.

The Tax Credit Office say that you are responsible for notifying them of your child’s qualifying disability benefit award. They take this view even though there exists an automatic notification system between the DLA Unit and HMRC. This system is designed to ensures the DLA Unit informs the Tax Credit Office when it awards a child DLA. It also informs them when a child’s award increases to the highest rate for personal care.

Unfortunately, over a number of years, there have been problems with this automatic notification system. It has not worked consistently, and as a result many families have lost out. On at least three occasions, the DWP and HMRC have carried out data-matching exercises. These identified many thousands of families with a child on DLA missing out on the disability element. As a result of those exercises, the families effected received limited arrears by way of compensation.

I have missed out on the disability element of Child Tax Credit for several years. Will the Tax Credit Office pay me arrears?

You are unlikely to get more than one month’s backdating.

The regulations say that the disability element should only be backdated to the date that a qualifying disability benefit started, where you notify the Tax Credit Office within one month of that disability benefit decision.

The Tax Credit Office believes that if you didn’t notify them within one month, they’re under no legal responsibility to pay you any further arrears. So if it takes you more than a month to notify them, backdating is normally limited to one month.

I think I may have missed out on the disability element for my child. What should I do?

If you have not already done so, call the Tax Credit Office to let them know your child gets a qualifying disability benefit and at what rate.

If they say that they will limit backdating to one month, you should ask them to backdate further. Tell them that they should use their discretionary powers to re-open your award in earlier years and pay arrears. You should point out that in previous years, HMRC have paid arrears to other families who missed out as a result of failures in the system of automatic notification. In the interests of fairness, you should also receive arrears to compensate you in a similar way.

HMRC are unlikely to agree to do this. You may need to try to involve your MP and seek a local advice service to help you lodge a complaint.

I get Universal Credit instead of tax credits. Can I get a disabled child element?

Similarly to tax credits, if you are awarded a qualifying disability benefit for a child in your family, an additional disabled child element will be added into your Universal Credit award.

However, unlike tax credits, the disabled child addition can usually be backdated in full. This happens regardless of whether there was any delay in telling Universal Credit about the award of the disability benefit. Under Universal Credit, so long as your child’s disability benefit started after your Universal Credit award, then arrears of the disabled child addition should be automatically backdated to the date that the qualifying disability benefit started.

The situation is more complicated if your child’s DLA award started before your claim for Universal Credit.

If Universal Credit try to argue that this payment cannot be backdated in full, call our freephone helpline.