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Benefits for the person you care for

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit that helps with the extra costs that disabled people face as a result of their disabilities. DLA is not means-tested, and it is tax free. You don’t need to have paid any National Insurance contributions (NI) to claim DLA.

In April 2013, a benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) started to replace DLA for working-age adults (aged 16 to 64) with a disability.

You can now only make a new claim for DLA if you're claiming for a child under 16. For more information, see DLA for children on GOV.UK.

Claiming PIP

From June 10 2013, anyone aged 16 to 64 who wants to claim a disability benefit must now claim PIP. Most DLA claimants will not be assessed for PIP until at least October 2015, but claimants in some areas are already being asked to claim PIP.

DLA has two parts: mobility and care. People can receive just one component, or both together. The care component is paid at three different rates and the mobility component is paid at two rates.

Whether someone qualifies for DLA, and what rate they're paid, will depend on the amount of personal care they need or the level of their mobility difficulties outdoors.

Qualifying ages for DLA

Claiming DLA if you've reached pension age

If you’ve reached pension age and haven’t claimed DLA before, you should claim Attendance Allowance (AA) instead.

If you’ve reached pension age, and you had a claim for DLA that ended within the last year, you can make a renewal claim for DLA. If it’s more than a year since your DLA ended, you must claim AA instead.

If you've reached pension age and are already getting DLA

Once you have qualified for DLA, it’s possible to continue getting it after you reach the age of 65. However, there are some differences that can affect changes to a DLA claim if you’re 65 or over.

If you already get the mobility component and your mobility problems get worse, you can’t move to a higher rate of mobility component after you’ve reached pension age.

If you’ve reached pension age, you’re only getting the mobility component of DLA and you start to have care needs, you’ll normally only be able to start getting the DLA care component if you qualify for it at the middle or highest rate. If you would only qualify for the lowest rate care component, you won’t get this unless you can show that you qualified for it before your birthday.

The DLA care component has a six-month qualifying period for people who have reached pension age, instead of the usual three months.

To qualify for DLA, you have to show that have been disabled throughout the three months before the date DLA is due to start being paid. You must also show that you’re likely to satisfy the disability rule for at least six months after it starts.

DLA for care needs

Lowest rate care component

You will be paid the lowest rate of the DLA care component if you need attention, including help with washing, dressing, eating, help with communication, or prompting to do something. You qualify if this help is needed for a significant portion of the day (usually at least an hour in total) and you are unable to do something requiring physical and mental co-ordination, such as cooking a main meal.

Middle rate care component

You will be paid the middle rate of the DLA care component if, in addition to the requirements for the lowest rate, you also need:

  • supervision to avoid putting yourself or others in substantial danger
  • someone to be with you while they are on dialysis

You will qualify if this help is either:

  • attention needed frequently throughout the day
  • supervision needed for most of the day
  • prolonged or repeated attention during the night, or someone needs to watch over you at night
  • someone to be with you while they are on dialysis two or more times a week 

Highest rate care component

You will be paid the highest rate of the DLA care component if, in addition to the requirements for the middle rate, you are able to show that you have a pattern of needs that happen during both the day and the night.

DLA for mobility needs

To get the mobility component of DLA, a person's disability must be severe enough for them to have any of the following difficulties:

  • they are unable or virtually unable to walk, or have no feet or legs 
  • they are assessed as being both "100% disabled" because of eyesight loss, and not less than 80% disabled because of deafness, and need someone with them when they are outdoors
  • they are severely mentally impaired with severe behavioural problems and qualify for the highest rate of the care component
  • the effort of walking could threaten their life or seriously affect their health 
  • they need guidance or supervision from another person when walking outdoors in unfamiliar places
  • they have been certified as severely sight impaired and have visual acuity below a certain level

Lower rate mobility component of DLA

A person will get the lower rate of the mobility component of DLA if they need guidance (such as help avoiding obstacles) or supervision from another person when walking outdoors in unfamiliar places.

The mobility component takes into account a person's ability to walk outdoors. If they have problems walking indoors, that may count towards the care component of DLA.

They have to show that the guidance or supervision they need will in fact help them walk outdoors. For instance, if you are agoraphobic, but can be persuaded to go outdoors if someone is with you, then you may qualify.

Higher rate mobility component of DLA

A person will get the lower rate of the mobility component of DLA if they have a physical disability that affects their ability to walk outdoors. People with severe learning disabilities that have a physical basis may qualify for the higher rate of the mobility component.

The higher rate mobility component of DLA is paid if a person's disability is severe enough for them to have any of the following walking difficulties:

  • they are unable or virtually unable to walk (this may be due to symptoms such as breathlessness, dizziness or pain)
  • they have no feet or legs 
  • they are assessed to be both 100% disabled because of loss of eyesight, and not less than 80% disabled because of deafness, and they need someone with them when they are outdoors 
  • they have a severe mental impairment with severe behavioural problems and qualify for the highest rate of care component 
  • the effort of walking could threaten their life or be likely to lead to a serious deterioration in their health
  • they have been certified as severely sight impaired and have a visual acuity of less than 3/60 (meaning they can only read the top line of an eye test chart from three metres away)
  • they have been certified as severely sight impaired and have a visual acuity of between 3/60 and 6/60 (meaning they can only read the top line of an eye test chart from six metres away), a complete loss of peripheral vision, and severely restricted central vision (sometimes called tunnel vision).

Your walking ability may vary from day to day. It can be useful to keep a diary, so that you can describe both good and bad days.

If you normally use an aid, prosthesis or medication, that will be taken into account.

Claiming DLA for a terminal illness

The law on DLA says that someone is regarded as terminally ill if they have a progressive disease and their death from that disease can reasonably be expected within six months.

Although there must be a reasonable expectation that death will occur within six months, AA will normally continue to be paid for three years under the special rules. At the end of this time, the claimant may be asked for further information about their health and how it affects them, so that their entitlement can be reassessed.

If your claim is accepted under the special rules, you will automatically qualify for the highest rate care component of DLA. You will not automatically qualify for the mobility component of DLA. However, if you satisfy the disability rules for either the lower or higher rate of the mobility component, you will not have to wait for the usual qualifying period.

If you are claiming under the special rules for terminal illness, it's a good idea to discuss the claim with your GP or consultant. They will need to complete a form (called DS1500), which asks for information about the claimant's diagnosis and treatment. The DS1500 form should be sent to the Disability Benefit Centre with a DLA claim form. You can get a claim form:

When claiming under the special rules, the questions about help with care do not have to be completed. However, if a claim is being made for the mobility component of DLA, then the questions about mobility need to be completed.

Making a claim on behalf of someone else

A claim can also be made on another person’s behalf by a carer, family member, friend or a professional. The person who is terminally ill doesn't have to sign the claim form. They will simply be notified that they have been awarded the benefit and payment will be made to them.

DLA and children

To receive DLA, a child under the age of 16 must satisfy all of the rules that someone over the age of 16 would have to satisfy. They also need to demonstrate that they need a lot more attention and supervision than other children of the same age. However, if they have a terminal illness, these rules do not have to be satisfied. Because of these extra rules, there is a separate DLA claim form for children.

Babies do not qualify for DLA until they are three months old.

If you are under 16 and terminally ill, you can make a DLA claim under special rules that ensure the claim is dealt with quickly.

DLA care component

The only way that someone under 16 can qualify for the lowest rate care component is if they need attention for a significant portion of the day.

There is no minimum age for the care component, but because of the three-month qualifying period, the component cannot be paid until your baby is three months old (unless they are terminally ill).

DLA mobility component

The higher rate of the mobility component can only be paid from the age of three. The lower rate of the mobility component can only be paid from the age of five.

The three months before a child’s third or fifth birthday can count as the qualifying period, so DLA can be paid from the third or fifth birthday onwards.

To qualify, you have to show that the child needs a lot more guidance or supervision than other children of the same age.

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Comments

The 9 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Lantern Of The Path said on 26 May 2014

I hope somebody helped sick_depressed out.

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my little pixie said on 11 March 2012

My 9yr old has bilateral high frequency hearing loss,learning difficulties,behavioural difficulties,dyslexia and is awaiting testing for autism, he has aggressive mood swings,personal care issues and no road awareness ect i have applied for dla for him 2 times now, having been refused twice i have one case awaiting a
request to go to upper tribunal,second awaiting a tribunal date and about to submit yet another claim, we have the backing of our M.P,consultant,doctor (gp) and school along with pages of reports ect.....the fact i need to keep fighting for him is making me ill,i am stressed,tired suffer from fybromyalgia and wonder what am i doing so wrong to not warrent the help my son is entitled to :-(

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sick_depressed said on 16 November 2011

OMG the site wouldn't upload my message, so I kept repeating the process, sorry about the messages being more than one.

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sick_depressed said on 16 November 2011

I'm sitting here in the early hours of the morning as I cannot sleep thinking about the benefit I am recieving. I suffer with depression, clostrophobia, anxiety, OCD and agrophobia. Right now the most frustrating thing for me is the fact that I am unable to go out on my own, I cannot travel on any public transport buses, trains, taxi's etc..I have suffered in this way for over 7 yrs.With the benefit I'm recieving I cannot afford to run a car. The anger I have is that people who can walk less that 50 mtres are given the higher rate mobility allowance and with that they can purchase a car with free road tax and insurance, but someone like myself who cannot go out on their own or travel on any kind of public transport recieves no help. Yes I can walk, but im unable to do so, cos of my mentall illness, I'm basically physically disabled in the brain. i have been awarded the lower rate mobility, which gives me no chance of even getting a disabled badge to help me go out with a friend in their car, as with my agrophobia and clostrophobia and panic attacks I can't be in closed in places IE car parks.... I am sitting here with tears in my eyes as it's been 7 yrs I've literally been a prisoner in my own home! I feel the DLA should take people like myself with a huge medical record at my GP and help us to be able to go out. Yes I can go out with someone beside me, but how far can I go when I can't get into any kind of transport, unless I'm driving it ( I need to know i'm in control of the vehicle and driving relaxs me and makes me stop thinking of my problems, which I have)
I really do think DLA should read up on medical records and take people like myself more seriously.

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sick_depressed said on 16 November 2011

I'm sitting here in the early hours of the morning as I cannot sleep thinking about the benefit I am recieving. I suffer with depression, clostrophobia, anxiety, OCD and agrophobia. Right now the most frustrating thing for me is the fact that I am unable to go out on my own, I cannot travel on any public transport buses, trains, taxi's etc..I have suffered in this way for over 7 yrs.With the benefit I'm recieving I cannot afford to run a car. The anger I have is that people who can walk less that 50 mtres are given the higher rate mobility allowance and with that they can purchase a car with free road tax and insurance, but someone like myself who cannot go out on their own or travel on any kind of public transport recieves no help. Yes I can walk, but im unable to do so, cos of my mentall illness, I'm basically physically disabled in the brain. i have been awarded the lower rate mobility, which gives me no chance of even getting a disabled badge to help me go out with a friend in their car, as with my agrophobia and clostrophobia and panic attacks I can't be in closed in places IE car parks.... I am sitting here with tears in my eyes as it's been 7 yrs I've literally been a prisoner in my own home! I feel the DLA should take people like myself with a huge medical record at my GP and help us to be able to go out. Yes I can go out with someone beside me, but how far can I go when I can't get into any kind of transport, unless I'm driving it ( I need to know i'm in control of the vehicle and driving relaxs me and makes me stop thinking of my problems, which I have)
I really do think DLA should read up on medical records and take people like myself more seriously.

Sad_depressed

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archerdogs2 said on 06 October 2011

I know what you are saying my mum has PSP as well.My sister and i have been lookiing after her for the passed 7yrs. She is wheel chair bound and we have to hoist to take her from chair to bed ect.No disability allowance as she was over 65yrs when we were told of her illness. Mum is 88yrs and we have had to buy a car to able to get her out .One that we can put her in when she is still sitting in the wheel chair. We both help care for mum with a carer in the morning for half an hour and one of an evening. We also stay at night with her one of us at a time. Not sure if we can even get the blue badge now, as they are saying if you only get the AA allowance, you may not get it.What do they what us to do with people with this terrible illness?Just leave them in a chair waiting to die? Is there any help out there for them?

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cappo said on 01 June 2011

hi ann try to get the help of your local cab or age uk (previously age concern) they shouid be able to help you with appeal forms and represent you at an appeal hearing if necessary,most appeals are upheld,give it a try.

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Rob Finch said on 09 March 2011

Ann Raynor,

We cannot provide advice on these pages. However, please get in touch with our free confidential helpline on 0808 802 0202 to talk through the issues or email your query via http://www.carersdirectenquiry.nhs.uk.

You can find information on challenging a Disability Living Allowance decision here: http://www.nhs.uk/CarersDirect/moneyandlegal/disabilitybenefits/Pages/DLAandAAchallenges.aspx.

You might also want to look at the page about Attendance Allowance (for over 65s) which has special rules for people who have a terminal illness: http://www.nhs.uk/CarersDirect/moneyandlegal/disabilitybenefits/Pages/AttendanceAllowance.aspx.

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ann raynor said on 06 March 2011

i care for my husband who has a terminal illness he has a rare disease progressive supranuclear palsy he cannot walk he is wheel chair bound,he is 67 we applied for disability allowance when he was 64 he was turned down as we were told he would be well by the time he was 65 but that was not the case my husband had deteriated more,he has months to live i can not get mobility so i can take my husband out any where ,is there any one out there who can help me is, there any way i can get this overturned and get them allow disability as it was there discision in the first place to say he would be well again,Ann

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Page last reviewed: 25/11/2014

Next review due: 25/11/2016

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