A suitable allowance

Neil Bateman talks through rules governing how to claim
disability living allowance; a vital benefit for those parents with
a disabled child.

Families with a disabled child are at great risk of poverty and
the experience of poverty adds to the stresses they are already

Sadly it is not rare for families with a disabled child and
multi-agency input to struggle on without having even basic
benefits brought to their attention.

Disability living allowance (DLA) is the most obvious place to
start when exploring benefits for disabled children. Improvements
have made this benefit more accessible with a dedicated
children’s claim form (available online at
). A
successful claim for DLA can generate entitlement to higher amounts
of means-tested benefits and tax credits (an extra £41.30 and
£41.44 per week respectively), while the higher or middle rate
care component of DLA opens up entitlement to carer’s
allowance (plus the extra carer’s premium of £25.10 in
means-tested benefits).

DLA care component can be awarded when a child is three months
old (but the claim can be made any time before) and the mobility
component from the age of three. A child under 16 needs to have
“substantially” greater needs than a child of the same age and
gender who is not disabled, so there is scope for dispute about
what “substantial” means. It often helps to show how the
child’s needs are more than siblings’ or school
friends’ needs in order to overcome this hurdle.

The care component can be awarded where there is a need for
additional attention or supervision (the latter being particularly
useful for getting DLA for children with behavioural problems). For
very young children with special needs, any information about
additional tasks or risks is vital. If awarded, the care component
will normally last until the age of six.

For the mobility component, the later start date means that it
can be overlooked. Most commonly it will be awarded from the age of
three to children who have significant difficulty walking. Those
with a learning difficulty and the higher rate care component may
also qualify if they have disruptive behaviour.

From age five children who need “substantially more” guidance or
supervision than other children when walking can qualify for the
lower rate mobility component.

– The Disability Rights Handbook has a useful
section about benefits for disabled children
. See www.disabilityalliance.org 

Neil Bateman is a welfare rights

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