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Disability Living Allowance - introduction

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for disabled children and adults to help with extra costs you may have because you are disabled. It is not based on your disability but the needs arising from it. For example, if you need someone to help look after you.

Who can get Disability Living Allowance?

The information in this section is a guide only. Disability and Carers Service (DCS) can answer any questions you may have about claiming and getting Disability Living Allowance.

You may get Disability Living Allowance if:

  • you have a physical or mental disability, or both
  • your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or you have walking difficulties, or both
  • you are under 65 when you claim

If you are aged 65 or over, you may be able to get Attendance Allowance.

You can get Disability Living Allowance whether or not you work. It isn't usually affected by any savings or income you may have.

Special rules - if you are terminally ill

If you have a progressive disease and you are not expected to live for more than another six months there are special rules for claiming to make sure you get your benefit more quickly and easily.

Medical examinations

You will not usually need a medical examination when you claim for Disability Living Allowance. If you are asked to have one you can find out more from the link below.

How much do you get?

Whether you can get Disability Living Allowance and the amount you get is based on your current needs and circumstances. If your needs or circumstances change, your benefit may increase, decrease or stop.

Disability Living Allowance has two parts called 'components':

  • a care component - if you need help looking after yourself or supervision to keep you safe
  • a mobility component - if you can't walk or find it very hard to walk, or you need help getting around

Some people will be entitled to receive just one component; others may get both.

The care component and mobility component are paid at different rates depending on how your disability affects you.

It’s important that you give the Disability and Carers Service (DCS) accurate information so that you get the right amount. If any of the information you have given changes, then you must tell the DCS. They will then check that you are still receiving the correct amount.

How it's paid

Disability Living Allowance is normally paid directly into any account of your choice which accepts Direct Payment of benefits. This might be a bank, building society or other account provider.

You may be able to get someone else to collect your Disability Living Allowance if you wish. For help with this please contact your bank, building society or other account provider.

If you would like more information about how you can be paid by other means, please contact Disability and Carers Service.

Effect on other benefits and entitlements

If you start to get Disability Living Allowance it might increase the amount of other benefits or credits you're entitled to, such as Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Disability Living Allowance is normally ignored as income for working out these income-related benefits and credits.

How to claim

Claim straight away - if you delay you may lose benefit. You can find out how to claim at the link below

What else you need to know

To get Disability Living Allowance you must be in Northern Ireland, or be treated as living here, and meet certain other conditions about your residence and presence.

Also changes to your circumstances can affect the amount of Disability Living Allowance you get or whether you get it. For example, this could be a stay in hospital or if your disability gets worse or better.

Disability Living Allowance to be replaced with new benefit

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is to be replaced with a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from 2014. This follows a major government consultation exercise, which received more than 5,000 responses.

The new benefit will remain a non-means tested, non-taxable cash benefit claimed by people with disabilities whether they are in or out of work.

What do the changes mean?

DLA is a benefit for people who cannot walk, who have difficulty walking or need help getting around or looking after themselves because of a disability.

The Personal Independence Payment will continue to help disabled people live independent lives and will also:

  • introduce a more objective assessment of need - developed with the help of disability organisations and people with disabilities
  • allow people with disabilities to be reassessed over time to ensure everyone gets the right support if their needs change

From February 2013, information on PIP is being issued to all DLA customers as part of their annual uprating letter. These letters are for information only, you do not need to do anything now.

More useful links