Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is paid tax-free to the disabled to help with the cost of mobility and care. Since June 2016 the benefit has been replaced with Personal Independence Payment for those aged between 16 and 64. This means any new claims are done via PIP as opposed to DLA (unless the applicant is under 16).

Basic Eligibility Criteria

DLA is split into two categories – the Care component and the Mobility Component

Care component

This component is designed for those those who need help looking after themselves. You do not have to have a carer and can live alone to claim the care component, which covers:

  • Help with personal activities, such as washing, dressing, eating, going to the toilet and communicating
  • Supervision to keep you and others safe
  • Assistance if you are on dialysis
  • Your disability hampers you when cooking a main meal

Mobility component

This component is designed for those who have difficulty walking and getting about.

Mobility component is can be awarded even if you have a mobility aid, but you can’t walk or can only walk a short distance without becoming very ill or suffer severe discomfort.

Other qualifying disabilities include:

  • Having no feet or legs
  • You are 100% blind and 80% deaf and need someone to help you when you are away from your home or need supervision nearly all the time when outdoors
  • Having severe mental and behavioural problems while receiving the highest rate of care for DLA
  • You are severely sight impaired and aged between three and 64-years-old on April 11, 2011

DLA is an assessed benefit, which means you might be asked to attend a medical assessment at any time to check your level of disability and the rate of benefit paid are correct. If you do not attend the appointment, the benefit could be stopped.

How much is DLA for adults?

The DLA payment depends on how your disability affects your care and mobility.

You will receive an amount for each component –

Care component

RatingWeekly paymentHelp you need (Examples)
Low£23.20Help with cooking meals or for some of the day
Middle£58.70Frequent help or constant supervision during the day, supervision at night, or someone to help you while you are on dialysis
High£87.6524/7 help or supervision, or if you are terminally ill

Mobility component

RatingWeekly paymentHelp you need (Examples)
Low£23.20Guidance or supervision while outdoors
High£61.20Help with any other severe walking difficulty

Claiming DLA for children

The rules for claiming DLA for a child are different than those for claiming for an adult.

For a child to qualify, they must:

  • Be aged under 16


  • Have difficulty walking


  • Need extra care compared with a child of the same age who has no disability


  • Make the claim while in a European Economic Area country or Switzerland


  • If the child is aged three or older, they must have lived in the UK for two of the past three years


  • Usually live in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands


  • Not have any immigration controls on their stay in the UK

Claiming DLA for a child aged under three?

The DLA claim rules also change if a child is aged under three years old:

  • A child under six months old should have lived in the UK for more than 13 weeks
  • A child older than six months but less than three years old should have lived in the UK for 26 of the 156 weeks prior to the claim date

Residency rules do not normally apply to the terminally ill, but the child’s condition should mean…

  • They need extra care compared to a child of the same age without a disability


  • They have had mobility issues for three months and expect them to last for more than six months.

A child does not need to have had these difficulties for three months if terminally ill and not expected to live for more than six months.

How much is DLA for children?

The payment is split into two components for children in the same way as the adult benefit.

Care component

RatingWeekly paymentLevel of Care
Low£23.20Help is needed for some of the time
Middle£58.70The child often needs help or assistance while undergoing dialysis
High£87.6524/7 help, or if the child is terminally ill

Mobility component

RatingWeekly paymentLevel of Care
Low£23.20Guidance or supervision while outdoors
High£61.20Help with any other severe walking difficulty or they are blind or severely sight-impaired

When is the money paid?

DLA is paid to adults and children every four weeks, into a bank, building society or credit union account. If the payment day is a bank holiday, DLA is paid on the last working day before the holiday.

Extra financial help

If someone spends 35 hours or more a week caring for a child receiving the middle or high care component rate, they might qualify for Carer’s Allowance.

They may also get higher payments of some other benefits, including…

Other extra financial help is available for some people, including income support, Family Fund grants and help with travel costs.

What to do if your circumstances change (adults)

If your circumstances change, get in touch with the Disability Service Centre straight away.
Claim circumstance might change for lots of reasons, such as:

  • You condition improves or worsens, changing the care you need
  • Your personal details change, such as your name, address, doctor or bank
  • You go into hospital or a care home for more than 28 days
  • You spend more than 13 weeks overseas
  • You are in detention or go to prison
  • You want to stop your DLA

Don’t forget if you fail to tell the disability Service Centre about any change and are overpaid DLA, you can be fined £50 and ordered to repay any overpayment.

What to do if your circumstances change (children)

If a child’s circumstances change, contact the Disability Service Centre, but DLA is not normally affected if they are:

  • In a council care home for less than 28 days
  • In hospital
  • Overseas for no more than 13 weeks
  • Overseas for medical treatment for no more than 26 weeks, providing they had the condition before they leaving the UK

When a child turns 16

Your child will need to switch from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when they reach 16 years old.

When they are eligible, they will receive a letter telling them how to apply for PIP.

They must apply for PIP by the deadline in the letter or their benefits will cease.

Calling the Disability Service Centre

You can call the Disability Service Centre on these numbers:

If you were born on or before 8 April 1948:

Telephone: 0345 605 6055
Textphone: 0345 604 5312

Dial: 18001 then 0345 605 6055 for the Next Generation Text (NGT) relay service

If you were born after 8 April 1948:

Telephone: 0345 712 3456
Textphone: 0345 722 4433

Lines are open Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm for all services

Appealing a decision

If you dispute a decision about your DLA, you can appeal.

The first step is writing within a month to the DWP which made the decision to ask for ‘mandatory reconsideration’. You should explain your reason for appealing and include copies of any evidence. The letter triggers a review of your case and the issue of a ‘mandatory reconsideration response’ which will tell you the result of the review.

If you still feel the decision is unfair, you can escalate your appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. At the tribunal, a judge will listen to your case and make a final decision.