You can only make a claim for DLA if you are claiming for a child under 16. Anyone over 16 must now apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
DLA has two components: care and mobility. Some people will be entitled to receive just one component; others may get both. The components are paid at different rates depending on how the individual is affected by their disability. Usually claims for the care component can be made when the child is aged three months and for the mobility component when they are aged three years (although in some circumstances claims can be made earlier – known as Special Rules).
To make a claim, parents should request an application form from the Disability Living Allowance Helpline 0345 712 3456. You may also be able to get a form from your local Jobcentre plus. The form will be date stamped. This date will be treated as your date of claim from which DLA can be paid, as long as the form is returned within 6 weeks. If your child attends a District Specialist Centre (Opportunity Group), they may also have a supply of forms. Forms can also be downloaded from direct.gov.uk to print off and complete.
To have the best chance of a successful DLA claim, parents are advised to get independent help to complete the application forms as they are lengthy and appear to be repetitive. It is important to remember that you must show consistently that your child needs more help or supervision than another child of the same age – it can be quite difficult for parents to focus on what their child is unable to do rather than their strengths.
Independent help may be from somebody who knows your child well; if they attend a District Specialist Centre (Opportunity Group) or if they have Portage then a key worker would be able to help. The Independent Living Centre offers a free Benefits Advisory Service to help parents/carers complete DLA forms – they can be contacted on 01380 871007.
There are three levels of DLA – Lower, Middle and Higher. Usually a child would need additional help or supervision during the day and night to receive the higher rate of DLA
The Mobility Component of DLA can be claimed when a child reaches 3 years of age. There are two rates – higher and lower. A separate claim form called – Help with Getting Around must be completed and, as with the Care Component, you must consistently show that your child needs more help with getting around than another child of the same age. If a child is, or will be, unable to walk at all due to their disability or if they are deaf or blind, or have already been granted Higher Rate Care component then it is more likely they will be granted mobility at the higher rate.
You may be able to claim the Mobility Component at the lower rate if your child can walk but is unable to make use of their ability to walk without supervision or guidance from another person when walking an unfamiliar route out of doors. This could include a child with a learning difficulty or behaviour problem which means they need more supervision than another child of the same age.
Claims usually take around 40 working days to be processed. Once a claim has been made, you can get advice from the DLA helpline who should have access to your records. They can be contacted on 0345 712 3456 and are open 7.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday.
You might receive a letter saying your child needs an assessment to check their eligibility. The letter will say where you must go and what paperwork you must bring with you.
If you think a decision about your claim is wrong, you can ask the office who made the decision to explain it. You can also ask to have the decision reconsidered. If you are still unhappy, you can appeal against the decision in most cases.
If your child is entitled to the Care Component of DLA at middle or higher rate, a parent may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance. There are conditions to this, including a restriction on the amount that the parent earns from work. For information about Carer’s Allowance phone The Carer’s Allowance Unit 0800 731 0297.
Further information on DLA and other benefits is available at www.gov.uk/browse/benefits