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Disability Living Allowance for children

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children can help to meet the extra costs of looking after a disabled child. DLA isn’t means-tested and is tax-free. Claiming DLA on behalf of a child should not affect any other benefits you may be getting and is paid on top of earnings and income. 

Check if you can claim DLA for your child

A DLA claim can be made for a child under 16:

  • who has mobility difficulties
  • needs more care than another child the same age

DLA is not based on your child’s condition, but on the support and care they need.

There are two parts to DLA – mobility and care components. Each component is paid at different rates. Your child may get awarded just one or both components, depending on their needs.

There is no lower age limit for the care component, but the mobility component is only awarded to children over the age of three.

If your child is over 16, they will have to make a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is a disability benefit for adults.

If your child lives in Scotland, you should instead apply for Child Disability Payment (CDP). If your child moves to Scotland and is already receiving DLA you won’t need to make a new application, but you must report the change to the DLA helpline.

How the assessment works

When assessing your needs, councils follow guidance known as ‘Fair Access to Care Services’ (FACS). Under the FACS framework, there are four brackets: critical, substantial, moderate and low. These relate to the seriousness of risk to a person’s independence if their needs are not met.

Any needs that are identified in the assessment, and which meet the council’s eligibility criteria, are known as ‘eligible needs’.

The council must publish details of its eligibility criteria, and which of the bands it is prepared to fund. It is common now for councils to fund only those needs which fall into the ‘critical’ or ‘substantial’ bands, and councils will meet your eligible needs only if they fall within one of the bands they are able to fund.

Care package Financial support The information you have given during your assessment will be used by social services to put together a ‘statement of needs’ and a plan of action to meet those needs. This is called a ‘care plan’.

From time to time, your needs may be re-assessed. However, your local authority should not reduce or withdraw a service from you without first re-assessing your needs. You can also ask for a re-assessment if you think your needs have changed.

Read more about PIP

How much DLA you can get

The rate of DLA that your child will be awarded depends on the level of care they need and/or the level of help they need getting around.

You will need to satisfy the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that your child meets the following criteria to qualify for either the care component, the mobility component, or both:

Care component

  • Lowest rate – your child needs help for some of the day.
  • Middle rate – your child needs frequent help or constant supervision during the day or at night.
  • Highest rate – your child needs help or supervision throughout both day and night, or they’re terminally ill.

Care component rates

Level Rate
Lowest £26.90
Middle £68.10
Highest £101.75

Mobility component

  • Lowest rate – your child can walk but needs help and/or supervision when outdoors. This rate can only be awarded to children over five years old.
  • Highest rate – your child cannot walk, can only walk a short distance without severe discomfort, or could become very unwell if they try to walk. This rate can only be awarded to children over three years old.

Mobility component rates

Level Rate
Lowest £26.90
Highest £71
How to claim DLA for your child

To claim DLA for a child you need to be their parent or guardian.

To apply you can either:

  • Print off and fill in the DLA claim form on GOV.UK.
  • Phone the Disability Living Allowance helpline on 0800 121 4600 and ask for a printed form

DLA will be paid from the start of your claim. This is either from the date the form is received or the date you call the DLA enquiry line to begin the application and should be sent to the DWP within six weeks.

The form asks different questions about your child’s need for help when completing different tasks. You can apply for both the care and mobility component, on one application, if your child meets the eligibility criteria.

How to strengthen your DLA application

It’s important to give as much detail as possible on the application form to illustrate how your child meets the criteria. Your child’s GP, neuromuscular consultant or other healthcare professional can complete part of the application and could provide a letter of support. Explain to your GP or healthcare professional how the condition affects your child’s daily life so that they can support the application.

Supporting letters should:

  • Describe your child’s need for help and supervision
  • Relate specifically to your child’s condition
  • Explain what would happen if this help and support is not available.

A supporting letter can be provided by anyone who is involved professionally with your child’s care. This could include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work and a professional from a neuromuscular team, such as a nurse specialist or care advisor.

Often applications are rejected because people do not provide enough detail regarding a child’s care or mobility needs or they don’t provide supporting evidence such as hospital letters with the application. It’s important to make sure you go into adequate depth about any difficulties your child may experience and how this is different to other children of their age. There is the expectation that children, especially younger children, would require a lot of assistance anyway.

Remember that the person reading the application form may have no experience of muscle wasting or weakening conditions and their complexity, so provide as much helpful information as you can, and clearly explain if there are times when a child can do something and times when they cannot.

What happens next

A decision letter is usually sent about eight weeks after your form is received.

DLA is awarded for a fixed time period, or indefinitely. If your child has been awarded either component for a fixed time period, the DWP should contact you before the application expires to renew your claim.

When renewing DLA, it is important to provide as much detail as you did on your initial application when completing a review. Include the most recent medical evidence you have that represents your child’s current circumstances if their condition is progressive.

Appealing the decision

If the application does do not get the outcome you think it should, you can appeal the decision. This is called requesting a mandatory reconsideration. A mandatory reconsideration needs to be requested within one month of receiving the decision letter.

Our Information, Advocacy and Support team can provide advice and support when applying for DLA and other benefits and can help with challenging decision outcomes. Call our helpline on 0800 652 6352 or email


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