Disability Living Allowance for children

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax free benefit for people with disabilities who need help with mobility or care costs.

Since 20 June 2016 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced DLA for people aged 16 to 64 years. 

Overview

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:

  • is under 16
  • has difficulty walking or needs more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability

They will need to meet all the eligibility requirements detailed under 'Eligibility' below.

You can claim DLA for a child as long as you look after them as if you’re their parent. ‘Parent’ includes:

  • step-parents
  • guardians
  • grandparents
  • foster-parents
  • older brothers or sisters

The DLA rate is between £23.20 and £148.85 a week and depends on the level of help the child needs.

The child may need an assessment to work out what help they need.

DLA rates for children

DLA for children is a tax-free benefit made up of two components (parts):

  • care component
  • mobility component 

The child might qualify for one or both components.

Care component

Care component  Weekly rate 
Lowest £23.20
Middle £58.70
Highest  £87.65

Mobility component

Mobility component  Weekly rate 
Lower £23.20
Higher £61.20

How DLA for children is paid

DLA is usually paid every four weeks. All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account.

You might qualify for Carer’s Allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a child who gets the middle or highest care rate of DLA.

Eligibility

The information is a guide only. Disability and Carers Service can answer any questions you have about claiming and getting Disability Living Allowance.

Usually, to qualify for DLA the child must: 

  • be under 16
  • need extra looking after or have difficulty walking
  • be habitually resident in Northern Ireland
  • be in Northern Ireland when they make their claim
  • have been in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey for at least two out of the last three years (the period is 13 weeks for babies under six months old and does not apply at all for people paid under special rules)
  • not be under immigration control

There are some exceptions to these conditions if the child is living or coming from another EEA country or Switzerland.

You can claim DLA for children if you’re in or out of work.

Children under three

A child under six months must have lived in Northern Ireland for at least 13 weeks.

A child aged between six months and three years must have lived in Northern Ireland for at least 26 of the last 156 weeks.

The rules on residence don’t normally apply if a child is terminally ill.

The child’s disability or health condition

The child’s disability or health condition must mean one or both of the following apply:

  • they need more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability
  • they have difficulty getting about

They must have had this for at least three months and expect it to last for at least six months. If they’re terminally ill (that is, not expected to live more than six months), they don’t need to have had this difficulty for three months.

Care component

The rate the child gets depends on the level of looking after they need, for example:

  • lowest rate - help for some of the day or night
  • middle rate - frequent help or constant supervision during the day, supervision at night or someone to help while they’re on dialysis
  • highest rate - help or supervision throughout both day and night, or they’re terminally ill

Mobility component

The rate the child gets depends on the level of help they need getting about, for example:

  • lowest rate - they can walk but need help and or supervision when outdoors
  • highest rate - they can’t walk, can only walk a short distance without severe discomfort, could become very ill if they try to walk or they’re blind, severely sight impaired

SMS messages

When claiming DLA you may receive text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC). They will always be clearly marked as DfC and will never ask you to give, or click a link to give, personal information or financial details by message or email.

If you’re concerned or unsure about any text messages (SMS) you receive from about DLA you should contact Disability and Carers Service directly. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent message as a scam, please contact Disability and Carers Service immediately.

  • Further information is available at: scamwiseni

Change of circumstances

Contact the Disability and Carers Service as soon as the child’s circumstances change. This can affect how much they get, for example if their disability gets worse or they go abroad for medical treatment.

Their DLA won’t usually be affected if they go:

  • into a residential or nursing care home for less than 28 days
  • into a hospital
  • abroad for less than 13 weeks
  • abroad for less than 26 weeks to get medical treatment for a condition which began before they left

How to claim

You can download a claim form, or contact the Disability and Carers Service or your local  Jobs and Benefits office.

Contact the Disability and Carers Service

You can call and ask to be sent a claim pack. The date of your phone call will be treated as your date of claim from which DLA can be paid, as long as you send your form back within six weeks of that date.

If you delay making a claim, you may lose out on benefit as DLA cannot be back dated.

Download a claim form 

Download a claim form using the link below. When you have filled in the form you can either post it to the Disability and Carers Service or hand it in at your nearest Jobs and Benefits office

Contact your local Social Security/Jobs & Benefits office

If you request a form from your local Jobs and Benefits office, the date of request will be treated as your date of claim from which DLA can be paid - as long as the form you receive is returned within six weeks of that date. If you delay making a claim, you may lose out on benefit.

Alternative formats

Call the Disability and Carers Service and ask for alternative formats such as Braille, large print or audio CD.

Terminal illness

There are special rules if the child is not expected to live more than six months, so they can get DLA more quickly. You must:

Appeal a decision

If you disagree with a decision, you must usually ask for ‘mandatory reconsideration’ before you appeal.

If you think a decision about your child’s benefit claim is wrong you can ask the Disability and Carers Service to explain it. You can also ask to have the decision reconsidered and if you're still unhappy, you can in most cases, appeal against the decision.

When your child turns 16

Your child will need to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when they turn 16.

Your child will get a letter inviting them to apply for PIP. The letter will be sent:

  • shortly after their 16th birthday
  • when they leave hospital, if they were in hospital on their 16th birthday
  • about 20 weeks before their DLA award ends, if they were awarded DLA under the rules for people who are terminally ill

Your child’s DLA payments will stop unless they apply for PIP by the date given in the letter.

If they apply by the date given in the letter, they’ll continue to receive DLA until their claim is assessed.

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