disability LIVING ALLOWANCE
The good news: DLA could make a huge difference to the care of your child. The highest rate is £85.60 a week.
Qualifying for DLA might also enable your family to qualify for other benefits, such as the disabled element of child tax credit.
The bad news: the rules are complicated and the application form is an exercise in persistence. It might be the first time your child has been described as ‘disabled’.
The benefit is split into two parts: care – for children who need more looking after than is usual – and mobility – for children who have trouble getting around more than is usual.
The two components are covered by the same application form. You can apply for both.
You might not consider your child ‘disabled’ but if they have a long-term illness they might still be eligible.
You can claim the care part of DLA for your child from three months of age.
You can claim higher rate mobility from the age of three and lower rate mobility from five years old.
It is tax free and is not means-tested. If your child is awarded the benefit they might be reassessed in the future.
These grades of payment (correct at February 2019) are:
|Care component||Weekly rate|
| Mobility component ||Weekly rate|
Filling in the DLA form
To fill out the DLA form effectively you need to continuously emphasise even the slightest struggle your child has in their day to day life and the repercussions it has on your family.
You can’t afford to omit any details.
Describing the worst aspects might make the difference not only between receiving DLA or not but also the rate your child receives.
If you think you qualify for DLA apply as soon as possible (the links are at the bottom of this section).
The claim pack will have a date and your benefit will be back-dated to then.
Don’t be put off by the size of the claim pack. Take your time to complete it.
Before you start:
- Keep a diary of everything you help your child do over a week.
From changing nappies to feeding to keeping their temperature regulated, to moving between rooms, write down EVERYTHING.
- Note all hospital, doctor and therapy appointments your child has to attend.
If you have time, let the experts know you are applying for DLA because they may well be contacted to confirm what you have written.
- A ring binder could be your best friend.
Photocopy any letters or forms you send to the Department of Work and Pensions (the Government department that will assess your claim).
Make a note of any phone calls you have with the DWP, the name of the person you spoke to, their phone number and the date, and keep that in the ring binder.
Filling in the form:
- To qualify for DLA your child’s needs have to be ‘substantially in excess of the normal requirement’ of children of the same age.
With each question you answer give details of why they can’t do something. Explain why they would benefit from help, what would happen if they didn’t get the help. Then spell out what a non-disabled child of their age would be capable of doing.
You have to portray things at their worst.
For example: Dressing. “Anna cannot dress herself because her hips don’t abduct, it causes her considerable pain in her hips and back to try to put socks, pants or trousers on.
She needs someone else to gently ease her clothes on for her and be aware of her delicate joints. Without this help she would be unable to dress, if she tried she would be in danger of causing herself pain or even breaking her joints.
A child of seven would usually have been dressing themselves since the age of four.
- The form asks you to explain when your child’s needs vary. For example, if you only have to care for them at night or if their behaviour varies from week to week.
Describe your child’s worst days. For example: “On bad days Jack cannot get of bed at all because of fatigue and pain in his back. On better days he can get out of bed, but only slowly and with rest between moves.”
It’s difficult for a parent but you have to emphasise that “better days” are still difficult.
For the purposes of this form ‘night’ means between 11pm and 7am. Your child needs help for at least 20 minutes or twice a night for it to count.
- If you need to include additional sheets of paper to tell your child’s story do so. Make sure you write their name on the top of each piece.
- Photocopy the form before you start and fill in a first draft. Don’t tackle it all at once, set aside an hour a day to tackle different sections.
- Make sure you tick every tick box that applies to your child, if you don’t tick a box the decision maker won’t read the comments.
Tips for specific sections
If your child has a life-limiting condition and doctors do not expect him or her to live longer than six months you may apply for DLA under ‘special rules’.
This means your claim will be fast-tracked, your child will receive the highest rate care allowance. Payment is made straight away if they are cared for at home.
What happens if my child’s application is rejected or I feel it is wrong??
You will be notified by post once a decision is made
Before appealing ask for a mandatory reconsideration of your application within one month of the date of the decision
Ask for a written explanation of why your child was turned down.
You normally can’t appeal to the tribunal if you haven’t asked for mandatory reconsideration
After a mandatory reconsideration if you are still unsatisfied with the decision you can appeal your application within one month
There is a risk that your child’s DLA could be reduced if you are appealing against the banding in which they have been placed.
Appeal means your case will be looked at by a panel of legal, health and social experts.
The panel can take written or oral evidence.
To appeal in writing use the SSCS1 form available from here: http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=3038 In either case adjudicators can only look at the evidence as it stood when you applied for DLA. If your child’s circumstances have changed you might consider reapplying.
If you decide to give oral evidence you will be given two weeks to prepare your case. Try to get some expert advice, for example, from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
For detailed advice on how to appeal go to visit https://www.gov.uk/social-security-child-support-tribunal/appeal-tribunal
For help filling in the appeal form call the Social Securty and Child Support Tribunal on
0300 123 1142 for England and Wales
0141 354 8400 for Scotland
What happens if my DLA is downgraded or withdrawn?
You can appeal. See above.
What happens if my child goes in to hospital?
DLA is paid for 84 days if your child goes into hospital. Then it is withdrawn. The mobility component stays.
Although you will inevitably be spending some if not all of your time with your child, the government reasons that the NHS is funding care for your child.
It is your responsibility to inform the Department Of Work And Pensions
Genetic Disorders UK is a member of the organisation Benefits and Work and can provide you with guides on applying for DLA and appeals. To access these guides please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telephone the Benefits Enquiry Line for a claim pack. 0800 882200. Or apply online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/DG_10017715
Community Legal Service offers free initial consultation between 9am and 5pm on 0845 3454345. Or go to http://www.clsdirect.org.uk
The charity Cerebra has an excellent guide to filling in the DLA form:http://w3.cerebra.org.uk/help-and-information/guides-for-parents/dla-guide/