Tips on applying for Disability Living Allowance

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:

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.

More tips:

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.

Good luck!

4 thoughts on “Tips on applying for Disability Living Allowance

  1. Meggy

    My elder son gets middle rate DLA, for a serious medical condition, also behavioural issues. I agree with this post. The form is hard to fill in, because you are having to stress all the negative things a bout your child, but it is important to put everything in, even the little things (eg terrified of the dark, cannot get out of bed to the toilet independently at night)
    It’s also worth remembering that the people who read the forms and make the decisions will not be medically trained, or psychologists, and you will need to explain any conditions your child has. Include leaflets, links to websites or charities, essentially explain everything. Describe what effect their problems have on them, list extra expenses, say why it takes extra time or input from you to do things. Why they need more help than an average child of that age. We usually submit a couple of extra pages of info about our son.
    Don’t panic. Think through all the activities of daily living (eg feeding, hygiene needs, sleeping, travelling to school, learning…) and list what extra help your child needs with each one on a bad day.

  2. Adrienne Hay

    Im so scared about my application for DLA.My daughter was awarded DLA 2 years ago and we have to do the renewal application ehich is just as hard as the original.
    I didnt keep the original but ive remembered what i put and also we also have new things to add too.My mortgage and other benefits tely on this being agreed so pretty much freeking out anxiety wise right now.
    My ex husband and mum are writing letters to i clude with the form just to confirm their opinions of my daughters illness and care needs too.
    My doctor wont write a letter until shes seen her again which is fine except only a month ago we lost our car suddenly in 2 days due to illness and she was a companion cat who my daughter relied on due to her illness and so that is going to cause her more anxiety.

    she also has an mri coming up and thats on top of deep grief.
    So im going to send the form with no doctors letter and just the 2 relatives letters and hope thats all they need.

    Ive made sure i lost all her conditions and care needs and i will also add in detail that and anything else ive forgotten in that big bit atthe end of the form.
    Any tips would be great and advise on what ive said too.
    Anxiety is crazy right now as i said so much riding on this and so so scared.

    Thanks so much

      1. jennie furey

        hi i have just read ur post how did u get on i am waiting for a appeal hearing for my girls dla i have been waiting since march she suffers from bad anxiety she as been diagnoised with visual spatical processing skills so i have decided to apply for dla for this


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