What is  DLA?

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

child who is under 16 and has difficulties with getting around and/or needs supervision or attention because of along-term health problem.

  • Health problems can be physical, mental, or cognitive.
  • The child must have had these difficulties for at least three months and expect them to last for at least six months. There are exceptions to this rule if a medical professional has said that the child might have six months or less to live. 

Once your child turns 16 they will normally be asked to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) instead of DLA. Different rules apply in Scotland where young people can continue receiving DLA until they turn 18.  

Who can claim disability living allowance for children?

Usually, to qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children, the child must:

  • be under 16 (anyone over 16 must apply for Personal Independence Payment [PIP])
  • need extra care, or supervision, because of a health condition/disability (the care must be more than that required by a child of the same age who doesn’t have health problems)


must have difficulty in getting around out of doors. This could be because of physical impairment, mental ill health, or cognitive impairment (for example learning disability).

  • have lived in Great Britain for at least 6 of the last 12 months, if over 3 years old
  • be habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
  • not be subject to immigration control.

Children under 3

A child under six months must have lived in Great Britain for at least 13 weeks.

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

The rules on residence do not normally apply if a medical professional has said the child might have six months or less to live.

Components of the Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children is a tax-free benefit made up of 2 parts (components).

A child might qualify for one or both components.

Care component

The rate the child gets depends on the level of care and attention that they need, for example:

  • lowest rate - help for some of the day. This might be short periods of time in one or two portions of the day
  • middle rate - frequent help or constant supervision spread throughout the day, supervision at night, or someone to help while they’re on dialysis
  • highest rate - help or supervision throughout both day and night (needs at night must be repeated, twice or more; or prolonged, one period lasting twenty minutes or more); or a medical professional has said they might have six months or less to live.

The earliest date that a child can qualify for the care component is from the age of three months. This does not apply to children who are terminally ill (in such cases DLA can be paid from birth).

Mobility component

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

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

There is also a possibility that a child may qualify for higher rate mobility component if they have a ‘severe mental impairment’, has ‘severe behavioural problems’, and they qualify for the highest rate of DLA care component. Please seek advice on this matter.

There are age limits to receiving the mobility component:

  • lowest rate - the child must be five years or over
  • highest rate - the child must be three years or over

If a child has not yet reached the qualifying age for the mobility component, but is already in receipt of DLA care component, a claim pack is usually issued 6 months before they turn three, and six months before they turn five. This is so that a claim for mobility component can be made if the childis eligible.

If the pack isn’t received, and a child could be entitled to the mobility component, please contact the Disability Service Centre.

How to make a Claim

To claim DLA for a child you need to be their parent or look after them as if you’re their parent. This includes step-parents, guardians, grandparents, foster-parents or older brothers or sisters.

To apply you can either:

  • print off and fill in the DLA claim form
  • phone the Disability Living Allowance helpline and ask for a printed form

Disability Living Allowance helpline

Telephone: 0800 121 4600

Textphone: 0800 121 4523

Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 4600

Video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users - check you can use this service

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Find out about call charges

When you’ll be paid

DLA can be paid from the start of your claim. It cannot be backdated. Your claim will start on the date the form is received or the date you call the enquiry line (if you return the claim pack within 6 weeks).

You’ll usually get a decision letter about 8 weeks (40 working days) after your form is received. The letter will tell you when you’ll get your first payment.

If the child is terminally ill

There are special rules if the child is not expected to live more than 6 months, so they can get DLA more quickly.

Phone the Disability Living Allowance helpline to start your claim. Ask a doctor or other healthcare professional for form DS1500. They’ll either fill it in and give the form to you or send it directly to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

When your child turns 16

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

When they apply for PIP

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.

Dudley Council has produced a DLA fact sheet available to download.

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