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Busting myths about Disability Living Allowance eligibility

Friday 1st July 2016


On Wednesday we announced that the government has scrapped the rules that previously stopped payment of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when a child under 18 is in hospital.

The families we support describe DLA as life changing. DLA helps families meet the extra costs of having a disabled child, and its withdrawal from children in hospital meant that many families were left in extreme financial hardship.

Our research has shown, however, that there is a lot of confusion about who is entitled to DLA, and as a result many families miss out on the vital benefit. In this article we look at some of the main reasons parents assume their child is not eligible for DLA.


Myth 1: My child needs a diagnosis before I can claim DLA

You can claim DLA so long as it is clear that there is some underlying condition - whether physical, mental or behavioural - as a result of which your child needs extra care or help in getting around. You don't have to wait for the condition to be diagnosed.


Myth 2: My child's disability won't count for DLA

Both components of DLA are paid at different rates depending on your child's care needs or mobility difficulties. Disabled children with greater needs are likely to be on the highest rates. A child with fewer needs might still qualify for DLA at lower rates.


Myth 3: I can't claim DLA for my child because my earnings are too high / I'm working

DLA is not means-tested. It doesn't matter whether you have earnings or any savings or whether you are working or not. The only thing that matters is whether your child has greater needs than other children of the same age.


Myth 4: Children with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders cannot get higher mobility rate under DLA

Even if your child has no physical problems with walking, they might still qualify for the higher rate if their behaviour is very difficult to deal with. See our parent guide on the higher mobility rate [PDF].


Myth 5: I can't claim DLA because my child is very young

It can be harder to claim for a young child because all infants need a high level of care. However, if your child needs a different type of care, or care more often, than other infants, you have a good chance of an award.

DLA care component can be paid from age 3 months and from birth if terminally ill. The mobility component can only be paid from age 3.


Myth 6: There is no point in claiming DLA, as the money will be deducted from my other benefits

DLA is never deducted from other benefits you get, and it is always ignored as income. In fact getting DLA can trigger extra amounts in other benefits you claim - see our DLA page for more information.


Myth 7: There's no one to help me fill out the DLA claim form                  

Our research found that once parents had read our DLA web pages and our DLA parent guide, most felt able to complete the DLA claim form themselves.

If you do get stuck, ring our freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555 and we can try to put you in touch with local help to complete the form.


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