Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is monthly benefit that is paid tax-free to the disabled to help with the cost of mobility and care. The benefit itself is being gradually replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you are already receiving Disability Living Allowance then your claim may come to an end in which case you’ll be notified of how you can instead apply for Personal Independence Payment or Adult Disability Payment. However, although Disability Living Allowance is being replaced for adults you can still make a claim for those aged under 16.

Basic Eligibility Criteria

Disability Living Allowance is split into two categories – 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

Mobility component

This component is designed for those who have difficulty walking and getting about. This includes not being able to walk with a normal mobility aid, only being able to walk short distances, or being prone to feeling ill when trying to walk.

Other qualifying disabilities include:

  • Having no feet or legs
  • Having been assessed to be 100% disabled due to sight loss and not less than 80% disabled due to loss of hearing, as well as needing someone to help you when you are outside.
  • Having severe mental and behavioural problems while receiving the highest rate of care component
  • Having been certified severely sight impaired by an ophthalmologist whilst also having been aged between 3 and 64 on 11th April 2011. You must also have a best corrected visual acuity of less than 3/60, or you must have a best corrected visual acuity of 3/60 or more but less than 6/60 together with a complete loss of peripheral visual field and a central visual field of no more than ten degrees in total.

Disability Living Allowance 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 you are being paid is correct. If you do not attend the appointment, the benefit could be stopped.

In order to make a successful claim you will need to demonstrate that you meet the criteria for one or both of the above components. If you don’t, you should instead apply for alternative benefits dependent on you age – either Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance.

How much is Disability Living Allowance for adults?

The amount you are awarded from Disability Living Allowance will depend upon the extent to which your disability affects your care and mobility. Below are the current payment amounts…

Care component

RatingWeekly paymentHelp you need (examples)
Low£24.45Help with cooking meals
Middle£61.85Frequent help or constant supervision during the day, supervision at night, or someone to help you while you are on dialysis
High£92.4024/7 help or supervision, or if you are terminally ill

Mobility component

RatingWeekly paymentHelp you need (examples)
Low£24.45Guidance or supervision while outdoors
High£64.50Help with any other severe walking difficulty

Claiming Disability Living Allowance 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 and have difficulty walking or need extra care compared with a child of the same age who has no disability

Other factors to consider…

  • If the child is aged three or older, they must have lived in the UK for two of the past three years
  • The child must usually live in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
  • The child must not have any immigration controls on their stay in the UK

Claiming Disability Living Allowance 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 and/or 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 Disability Living Allowance 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£24.45Help is needed for some of the time
Middle£61.85The child often needs help or assistance while undergoing dialysis
High£92.4024/7 help, or if the child is terminally ill

Mobility component

RatingWeekly paymentLevel of Care
Low£24.45Guidance or supervision while outdoors
High£64.50Help 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 of circumstance and are overpaid Disability Living Allowance, 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. However Disability Living Allowance 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 may cease to be paid.

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

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 Disability Living Allowance, you can appeal.

The first step is to write within a month to the DWP (or use this form) to inform them that you are not satisfied with their decision – either that you were not awarded DLA or that you were expecting a higher amount. This process known as ‘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 would prefer to speak to someone you can call the DWP on the number below. It is advisable to write to the DLA to summarise what was discussed on the call as well as keeping notes of each conversation you have with them.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Helpline

Telephone: 0800 121 4600
Textphone: 0800 121 4523

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.