Top Tips for claiming Disability Living Allowance
Have you heard of Disability Living Allowance? Also known as DLA.
It’s a financial benefit that can be applied for to help with the extra costs of caring for children whose needs are above those of children of a similar age.
In brief, it comes in two parts – Mobility and Care. Care is divided into Lower, Middle and Higher rates. Mobility into Higher and Lower. The rate awarded is obviously dependent on the needs of the child, and mobility and care rates are not necessarily awarded at the same rate. The currents rates are between £21.55 and £138.05 per week. If awarded, you may also then be entitled to additional child tax credits, and you may also be eligible to apply for Carer’s Allowance.
Importantly, a child DOES NOT need a diagnosis of any kind to claim DLA. It is strictly about the child’s needs.
Much more information can be found on the Government website here: https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children
Forms are downloadable, or can be sent to you to fill in. And to be honest, they can look pretty scary. They are comprehensive, enabling your child’s situation to be assessed. There are MANY questions, all focussing on the difficult and challenging parts of parenting a child with additional needs. But, help is at hand with those scary forms. I’m no expert, but I applied for DLA a few years ago and was successfully awarded it for my son for a period of 2 years, and I have also recently completed the renewal pack and am pleased that it’s been awarded for a further 2 years. I couldn’t have done this without some assistance from another adopter, and now I hope my tips might help you successfully apply.
Tips for applying for DLA
I cannot stress highly enough that a successful award is NOT based on diagnosis, but based on needs.
Throughout your application:
DO show how your child’s needs are over and above children of the same age.
DO use phrases such as ‘not meeting milestones’ as this is a recognised indicator of development.
DO refer to the guidance notes.
DO use the extra information opportunities.
What information to include:
DO fill in the form based on your worst day and night. The care component is in part based on night-time needs, so make sure you detail these fully.
DO be completely honest – if it takes an hour to settle your child in bed, then say so.
DO not worry about repeating yourself, just be consistent.
DO give examples of the additional support required – if night-time disturbances are toileting issues, then say so. If your child has no sense of danger and needs help staying safe whilst out walking, then say so.
DO be detailed.
DO ring your doctor/consultants to check dates if necessary.
DO include all illnesses and ailments – even if you think they’re irrelevant now.
DO include information about your child’s background and early life IF it is relevant to their needs and behaviours now.
DO include information about other professionals that you are working with.
What to send with your application:
DO send as much supporting evidence as possible – therapist reports, copy of your child’s IEP, educational psychologist reports, CAMHS recommendations, and anything else you have.
DO ask a professional to add a supporting statement – our Post Adoption Social Worker helped us in our original application, and we also sent a short email from our CAMHS therapist.
DO keep a copy of your application so you can refer back to it at renewal time.
DO remember that you’re focussing on the negatives and that’s hard, but it’s only for a short time.
DO call the DLA helpline if you have specific questions – 0345 712 3456
DO remember that you don’t need to justify what you spend the money on – it’s your business.
DO get in touch if you need support with filling in the form – we’re happy to help.