Disability Living Allowance is a tax-free benefit for people under 65, including children, who have care needs or problems with getting about. If you are eligible for Disability Living Allowance it will not usually affect other benefits that you receive. Note: this leaflet gives a brief summary of Disability Living Allowance and is for guidance only. It does not cover all situations, nor is it a full statement of the law. Sources of further, more detailed information are given at the end of the leaflet.
Who gets Disability Living Allowance?
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit for people under the age of 65 who have a long-term illness or disability, either physical or mental. It is paid in respect of two types of needs - one is care, the other is mobility. The benefit has two parts based upon these needs. One part is called the Care Component if you need help with personal care. The other part is called the Mobility Component if you need help with getting about. You may qualify for a Care Component, Mobility Component, or both.
- The Care Component is payable at three rates (lowest, middle and higher).
- The Mobility Component is payable at two rates (lower and higher).
The component awarded will be the one appropriate to your needs. Neither component is payable until you have needed help for three months. You must also be expected to need help for at least a further six months. (However, there are special rules if you are terminally ill. See separate leaflet called Benefits for the Terminally Ill.)
Your entitlement to DLA is not usually affected by your finances, savings, or by any other income that you may be getting from work, other benefits, etc.
Care Component: who qualifies?
The Care Component takes account of how much care you need. It makes no difference whether or not you are actually getting that care.
This is payable if you need some attention in connection with your bodily functions. For example, this might include help with eating and drinking, washing and dressing, or using the toilet. If you are over 16, it may also be payable where you are unable to prepare a cooked main meal. This might be because you cannot, for instance, turn a tap, carry a pan of hot water, or you lack the mental ability to plan a meal.
This is payable if you need more substantial care. For example:
- Frequent attention throughout the day in connection with your bodily functions.
- Or continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid substantial danger to yourself or to others.
- Or a lot of attention during the night in connection with your bodily functions.
- Or to be watched over for much of the night.
Help needed with jobs like housework, shopping or gardening does NOT count.
Payable if you need the same sort of care as for the middle rate, but need it for 24 hours a day.
Mobility Component: who qualifies?
Payable if you need someone to provide guidance or supervision when you are outside on unfamiliar routes.
Payable if you have severe mobility problems. For example:
- If you cannot walk or are virtually unable to walk.
- Or if you have a double amputation, or were born without legs or feet.
- Or if you are deaf or blind.
- Or if you have a severe learning disability or severe behavioural problems and get the highest rate of the Care Component.
The Mobility Component takes account of how much help you may need to be mobile. It makes no difference whether or not you are actually getting that help. However, it is usually not paid if you cannot be moved, or could not appreciate going out. For example, if you were in a coma.
What if I am away from home or my circumstances change?
To be eligible for DLA you will normally have lived in the UK for at least six months in the previous year. The benefit is changed in certain circumstances. For example, it may be stopped if you are admitted to hospital for four weeks or more. The Care Component is stopped if you go to live in a care home that is funded by the state. The rate may change if your disability gets better or worse.
Are there any age restrictions?
DLA has to be claimed before you reach 65. However, once awarded, DLA continues to be paid after you reach 65. It continues for as long as you satisfy the conditions. However, if you are 65 or over and develop care needs, you may be eligible for Attendance Allowance. (See separate leaflet called Attendance Allowance.)
To qualify for the Care Component, children must need much more care than other children of the same age. For the Mobility Component they must need much more outdoor guidance and supervision than other children of the same age.
How much is Disability Living Allowance?
DLA is tax-free. Payment is usually made directly into a bank account, building society account, Post Office account, or National Savings account. The April 2012 rates are:
- Care Component
- Lowest rate - £20.55 per week
- Middle rate - £51.85 per week
- Highest rate - £77.45 per week
- Mobility Component
- Lower rate - £20.55 per week
- Higher rate - £54.05 per week
Note: the rules for benefits can sometimes become complicated. The amounts shown above are a guide and your circumstances may affect the amount that you get. You may even be entitled to an increase in certain other benefits if you receive DLA.
How do you claim Disability Living Allowance?
You need, or someone on your behalf needs, to complete a claim form. To get a claim form:
- Telephone the Benefit Enquiry Line (details below) to request a form.
- Or go to the Directgov website (details below). This is a government site where you can download a claim form.
- Or, if you live in Northern Ireland, you can go to the website of the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland (details below) which has a claim form online.
- Or get one from your local Jobcentre Plus office or local social security office.
The form can be signed by someone on your behalf if you are too sick or disabled to do so. There is also a section on the form which can be filled in and signed by someone who knows how your disability affects you, such as a carer, professional care worker, or doctor.
Children under 16 will always have claims made by, and payment made to, an adult appointed to act on their behalf. This is usually a parent or guardian.
A medical examination is not often necessary. However, you may need to be seen by a doctor for assessment if it is not otherwise possible to obtain a clear picture of how your illness or disability affects you.
If you are not sure if you qualify, then seek expert help and advice. See below for sources of help and advice. If you still remain unsure - then claim! The worst thing that could happen is that your claim will be refused. Many people who are entitled to benefits do not get them because they do not claim as they think that they are not eligible for them.
Also, consider asking advice from one of the sources listed below about all your benefit entitlements.
A note for carers
If you care for someone who is being paid Disability Living Allowance, or is intending to claim for it, you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance if the care component is at the middle or highest rate. You may wish to consider claiming for this at the same time. (See separate leaflet called Carer's Allowance.)
Further information, help and advice
Directgov provides information from across UK government departments on topics ranging from travel safety and parental leave, to special educational needs, local NHS services, and benefits. The site also brings together an increasing number of online government services - including being able to download and/or complete certain benefit claim forms online.
Department for Work and Pensions
Their website provides a list of claim forms that you can download or fill in online for benefits, allowances, pensions, etc - www.dwp.gov.uk/eservice/
Contact details of their local offices (Jobcentre Plus offices and other 'social security' offices) can usually be found in the phone book under 'Jobcentre Plus'.
Or, find out about local offices and much more from the website www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau
Provides independent advice on many issues including benefits. Listed in the phone book under 'Citizens Advice Bureaux'. Also, see their excellent website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Disability and Carers Service
This is part of the Department for Social Development for people living in Northern Ireland. Telephone:
- Disability Living Allowance: 028 9090 6182
- Attendance Allowance: 028 9090 6178
- Carers Allowance: 028 9090 6186
Textphone: 0800 243 787
Benefit Enquiry Line (BEL)
England, Wales and Scotland - Tel: 0800 88 22 00 Textphone: 0800 24 33 55 Northern Ireland - Tel: 0800 220 674 Textphone: 0800 243 787 For people with disabilities, their carers and representatives. It is part of the Department for Work and Pensions. BEL offers confidential advice and information on benefits and how to claim them. In addition they can also send out an extensive range of leaflets and claim packs, and help you to complete a claim form over the phone.
Further reading & references
- Disibality Living Allowance, Directgov
|Original Author: Dr Tim Kenny||Current Version: Hilary Cole||Peer Reviewer: Ros Jones|
|Last Checked: 14/06/2012||Document ID: 4469 Version: 42||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.