Challenging the myths around Disability Living Allowance eligibility: podcast transcript

Podcast: Challenging the myths around Disability Living Allowance eligibility

My name is Derek and I’m a benefits adviser at contact. I work on Contact’s free helpline, and we provide advice and information to families with disabled children about the benefits system. 

One of the main benefits we advise about is Disability Living Allowance, or DLA for short. 

It’s the main benefit for disabled children, and it’s there to help meet the extra costs of bringing up a child with a disability. 

You can claim DLA for any disabled child so long as they have problems in either getting around or if they need more care or watching over than other children of the same age. 

Now, we know it costs a lot more to bring up a disabled child, so getting DLA can make a huge difference to families. 

But we also know that lots of families out there are missing out on DLA and aren’t claiming the benefit when they probably should be. 

And we know from talking to parents that often they aren’t claiming the benefit because of common misconceptions about who can claim DLA and how the benefit works. 

One of the main reasons that a lot of families haven’t claimed is because they’re first waiting for a formal diagnosis. 

And lots of parents are under the impression that you need to have a diagnosis before you can make a claim for DLA. 

But this simply isn’t the case. 

You can claim DLA so long as you can show that your child has extra care or mobility needs and that these are caused by some sort of condition. 

So the health professionals involved in your family may not yet be able to diagnose exactly which condition your child has, but as long as it’s clear that there’s some sort of condition affecting your child, and they require more care as a result, that should be enough for you to be able to make a claim for DLA. 

Another common reason lots of parents aren’t claiming DLA is because they think their child isn’t disabled enough or they’re not sure if their child will be classed as disabled. 

But DLA can be claimed by any disabled child as long as they need extra care or watching over. And that applies to children with learning difficulties, developmental delay, autistic spectrum disorders and emotional or behavioural conditions, just as much as it applies to children with physical disabilities. 

DLA is not just for those children with the most complex disabilities. The benefits paid at different rates depending on how much extra care your child needs. 

So while those children with the most complex needs might get the higher rates of DLA, children with less severe disabilities can still qualify. But perhaps for the lower rates. 

Some parents think they can’t claim because of their income or because they’re working. 

However, DLA is not means tested, so it can be paid regardless of what other income or savings you have, and it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re working or not. 

Other parents don’t claim DLA because they think that any DLA their child is awarded will simply be deducted from the other benefits they’re already getting, so they might get less help with rent or less tax credits or Universal Credit.  

But that would never happen. DLA is always paid on top of whichever other benefits you already receive. It is never treated as income, and it’s never deducted from other benefits. 

In fact, getting DLA can trigger other types of financial help for families, such as higher tax credits or Universal Credit payments. 

It can also open the way to other benefits like Carers Allowance, or to an exemption from the benefit cap. 

Some families don’t claim DLA because they think that their disabled child is too young. 

There are two different types of DLA payment. 

There’s a mobility component, and that can only be paid from the age of three years. 

But there’s another type of DLA payment called the care component, and that can be paid from the age of three months or from birth if a child’s terminally ill. 

Now it is true that it can be harder to get DLA for very young children, and that’s because all infants need a lot of care and supervision and you need to be able to show that your baby has greater care needs than other infants of the same age who aren’t disabled. 

So that makes it more difficult to get an award for a very young child. 

However, if your baby needs different types of care from other children, or needs to be watched over much more closely, then you certainly have every chance of being awarded LA despite their age. 

If you have any questions about DLA, please look on our website at where you can download a free guide to DLA for children. 

Alternatively, you can call our free helpline to speak to an advisor on 08088083555 

Thanks a lot for listening.