Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit aimed at helping you meet the extra costs of a disability

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is gradually replacing DLA for people of working age (16 to 64), although DLA remains for adults in Northern Ireland. On this page we focus on DLA for children and tell you if your child could be eligible, how much it is worth and how to claim it.

What is DLA?

DLA aims to help you meet the extra cost of the care that your disabled child may need and the added expense of getting out and about. For this reason, it is made up of two components: a care component and a mobility component. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administers it.

Lots of blind and partially sighted children receive this benefit, and we would encourage you to apply on behalf of your child. DLA is tax free, is not means-tested and it wont affect any other benefits you already receive, so there really is nothing to lose by making a claim!

Finding out if your child is eligible to receive DLA

To make a new claim for DLA, your child must:

  • be under 16
  • need more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn't have a disability
  • be habitually resident in the UK (this is decided by looking at a number of factors including reasons for coming to the UK, the length of your stay, future intentions and previous links with the country)
  • satisfy the past presence test. This means that your child must have been present in the UK for 104 out of the previous 156 weeks. If your child is under six months they only need to have been present for 13 weeks up until they are one year old). If your child is aged between six and 36 months old then they only need to have been present for 26 weeks in the last 156 weeks.

Your child will not have to satisfy the past presence test if they have a terminal illness.

The rules for habitual residency and the past presence test are complicated and there are some exceptions (if you live in a European Economic Area country, fo example), so contact our Helpline if you think you may have difficulty passing these tests.

How much is DLA worth?

If your claim is successful, you could get a payment for the care component or the mobility component, or both. Each component has different rates according to how much help the DWP feels your child needs. Many blind or partially sighted children receive at least the lower rates of the two components, but the DWP may award you more or less than this based on your application.

The care component is made up of three rates:

  • a lowest weekly rate of £21.55
  • a middle weekly rate of £54.45
  • and the highest weekly rate of £81.30.

The mobility component is made up of two rates:

  • a lower weekly rate of £21.55
  • and a higher weekly rate of £56.75.

You might be able to claim Carer's Allowance on top of the middle and higher rate components of DLA if you care for your child for more than 35 hours a week.

How to make a claim for DLA for your child

Call the DWP’s DLA Helpline on 0845 712 3456 and ask for a claim pack. The Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. If you use a textphone, the number is 0845 722 4433.

You can also access the DLA claim form online.

Our factsheet has lots of useful tips about what information to include on your application form, so that you can make the most effective claim for DLA:

What happens when my child turns 16?

The DWP will invite your child to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if they receive DLA and are approaching 16. When your child is:

  • 15 years and 7 months, the DWP will send a detailed letter to you (as parent or guardian) explaining that your child will have to claim PIP at age 16 instead of DLA and that, until a decision has been made on their PIP claim, they will continue to receive DLA.
  • 15 years and 10 months, the DWP will send you a letter reminding you that they will shortly invite your child to claim PIP.
  • 16 years old, the DWP will send your child (or you, as their “appointee”) a letter inviting them to claim PIP. The letter should contain more detailed instructions about how to make the claim and when to do this. The DWP will also advise what happens if your child does not make a claim for PIP within the given time period.

Need help with your claim for DLA?

Our factsheet has more detailed information about DLA and tips for making an effective claim:

If you would like to speak to one of our trained benefits advisers about applying for DLA on behalf of a blind or partially sighted child, or how to appeal if you are unhappy with the result of your claim, please call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk.

You can also discuss your claim with the DWP by calling their DLA Helpline on 08457 12 34 56.

Benefits calculator

Use our benefits calculator to check which benefits you are entitled to. Our calculator will ask you some questions about your circumstances and then tell you how exactly much you could be missing out on.

Use the benefits calculator