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Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

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

A woman sitting with and smiling at a young boy and massaging his foot.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is gradually replacing DLA for people of working age (16 to state pension age), 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. Parents and guardians of children in Scotland should now claim Child Disability Payment (administered by Social Security Scotland) instead of DLA. Further information on this change can be found on our Benefits for children page.

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 won’t 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

You can claim DLA if:

  • you are the parent of a child under 16 with sight loss
  • and your child has had these problems for at least three months
  • and your child is expected to have these problems for at least six months.

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 £24.45
  • a middle weekly rate of £61.85
  • and the highest weekly rate of £92.40.

The mobility component is made up of two rates:

  • a lower weekly rate of £24.45
  • and a higher weekly rate of £64.50.

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 0800 121 4600 and ask for a claim pack. The Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. If you use a textphone, the number is 0800 121 4523.

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?

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 [email protected].

You can also discuss your claim with the DWP by calling their DLA Helpline on 0800 121 4600.