Find out more about Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children

Many parents of children with disabilities or additional needs are unaware of the financial support they may be able to access to help with any additional costs.

Children under 16 with a disability or additional needs may be eligible to receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) depending on their level of care needs or mobility needs.

Depending on household circumstances, entitlement to DLA for a child can open up eligibility for other benefits or have a positive effect on existing entitlements to other benefits such as Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Carers Allowance.

What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children?

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children is a tax-free benefit made up of two components – the Care component and the Mobility component. The child might qualify for one or both components.

To be eligible for DLA, the child must be under 16 and the child’s disability or health condition must mean at least one of the following apply:

  • they need much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability
  • they have difficulty walking.

They must have had these difficulties for at least 3 months and expect them to last for at least 6 months. If they’re terminally ill (that is, not expected to live more than 6 months), they do not need to have had these difficulties for 3 months.

Care component

 If a child is entitled to the care component, the weekly rate they get depends on the level of looking after they need:

  • lowest rate £24.45 – require help for some of the day
  • middle rate £61.85 – require frequent help or constant supervision during the day, supervision at night or someone to help while they’re on dialysis
  • highest rate £92.40 – require help or supervision throughout both day and night, or they’re terminally ill.

Mobility component

 If a child is entitled to the mobility component, the weekly rate the child gets depends on the level of help they need getting about:

  • lowest rate £24.45 – for children who are 5 years old or over and who can walk but need help and or supervision when outdoors
  • highest rate £64.50 – for children who are 3 years old or over and who cannot walk, can only walk a short distance without severe discomfort, could become very ill if they try to walk or are blind or severely sight impaired.

If your child is under these ages and you already claim DLA (the care component) for them, you should be sent a claim pack to add the mobility component 6 months before they turn 3, and then 6 months before they turn 5. At this time, you can then apply for the mobility component if you think they’re eligible for it.

For more information on Disability Living Allowance and the application process visit the NI Direct website.

What happens when a child on DLA turns 16?

 When your child reaches the age of 16 they can start to apply for certain benefits in their own right. A 16 year old stops being entitled to DLA and becomes entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) instead, however this is not an automatic process. They will have to apply for PIP themselves or someone else can act on their behalf as an ‘appointee’. For more information about being an appointee visit NI Direct.

Your child will be sent get a letter inviting them to apply for PIP and should be received:

  • shortly after their 16th birthday
  • when they leave hospital, if they were in hospital on their 16th birthday
  • about 20 weeks before their DLA award ends, if they were awarded DLA under the rules for people who are terminally ill.

Your child’s DLA payments will stop unless they apply for PIP by the date given in the letter.

If they apply by the date given in the letter, they’ll continue to receive DLA until their claim is assessed.

For more information on Personal Independence Payment and the application process go to:

Further information

If you think that any of the benefits referred to in the article may affect you or members of your family and would like further advice on how this could affect any entitlement to financial support now or in the future, contact our Family Benefits Advice Service for free, impartial and confidential advice. Call us on Freephone 0800 028 3008 or email – we are here to help.