Disability Living Allowance

Some children have disabilities or health conditions which leads to them needing more care, attention or supervision than a child their age who isn’t disabled. When this happens, you can claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) on their behalf.
Our Baby Steps guide provides details about when you could claim DLA, how to claim DLA, what to do if you disagree with the DWP decision about your DLA claim and what extra benefits DLA might entitle you to.

Key Features

  • Not income related and so does not take into consideration your, or your partner’s, earnings or any savings you may have

  • Paid 4-weekly in arrears

  • DLA is for children under 16
  • Your child must be eligible to claim public funds in the UK

  • DLA claims cannot be backdated so it is worth requesting the claim form as soon as possible
  • Not a taxable source of income

What is DLA?

DLA is a benefit which can be paid for children who have disabilities or health conditions which mean that they:

  • require more care, attention or supervision than a child their age who isn’t disabled, and/or
  • they have difficulty walking and/or,
  • they have difficulty getting around in unfamiliar outdoor places compared to other children their age who aren’t disabled

This is known as the ‘disability test’.

Your child does not need to have a physical disability to qualify for DLA and you do not have to a formal diagnosis however, this can help with a claim. Bear in mind, that your child might not qualify for DLA even if they have a medical condition if they do not need extra care, attention or supervision than another child their age without that condition. 

Your child must have met the disability test for 3 months before the claim is made and expect to satisfy the disability test for at least 6 months after the claim is made. 

In November 2022 there were 4,053 DLA claims in payment within Telford & Wrekin. 


As well as meeting the disability test criteria your child must also:

  • Be in England, Scotland or Wales at the time of application and lived here for at least 104 weeks out of the last 156 weeks (2 out of 3 years) unless you or your child are a refugee or unless your child is terminally ill
  • Be under 16 years of age at the time of the claim
  • Be eligible to claim public funds – you can check here if that applies

Different aspects of DLA

There are two elements of DLA – care and mobility. There are also different rates of these elements. Care has three rates: low, middle and high. Mobility has two rates: low and high.
These elements and rates are paid at different amounts. For 2023/24 they are:
Care component

Weekly amount                      4-weekly amount

Higher rate

£101.75                                     £407

Middle rate

£68.10                                       £272.40

Lower rate

£26.90                                       £107.60

Mobility component

Weekly amount                      4-weekly amount

Higher rate

£71.00                                       £284

Lower rate

£26.90                                       £107.60

There is no minimum age for the care component of DLA. However, as your child must meet the disability test for 3 months the youngest age DLA can be paid is from 3 months old. 

The minimum age for the mobility component of DLA is 3 years old if they qualify for the higher rate and 5 years old if they qualify for the lower rate. This is because at a younger age nearly all children require extra support and attention for their mobility whether they have a disability or not. 

What are the differences between the rates?

It can be confusing to try and work out what rates of DLA your child might be eligible for. DLA is not assessed on a point scoring system but based on the frequency and duration your child needs care, attention or supervision for.


Higher rate care can be paid if your child needs frequent care or supervision throughout both the day and the night, or
They are terminally ill and not expected to live for more than 12 months
Middle rate care can be paid if your child needs care or supervision throughout either the day or the night, or
They receive renal dialysis 2 or more times a week
Lower rate care can be paid if your child needs extra care for at least an hour throughout the day but not at nighttime


Higher rate mobility can be paid if your child is 3 years old or older and if one of the following applies:

  • They cannot walk
  • They have severe discomfort when they walk outside
  • Walking would put them in danger or would mean their health would get worse
  • They have no legs or feet
  • They are blind or severely sight impaired
  • They are both deaf and blind

You can also get higher rate care if your child is 3 years old or older and all the following apply:

  • They have a severe learning disability or other mental impairment that affects their intelligence and how they act with other people
  • That severe learning disability or mental impairment results in disruptive and dangerous behaviour, for example someone must watch over them to stop them hurting themselves or others
  • They’re entitled to the highest rate care component

Lower rate mobility can be paid if your child is 5 years old or older and both of the following apply:

  • They need someone with them to guide or supervise them on unfamiliar routes
  • They need more help getting around than a child of the same age who isn’t disabled or doesn’t have a health condition

As you can see, the mobility component is not purely about your child’s physical ability to walk. Many parents are surprised to find out their child could be eligible for the mobility component of DLA.

How to claim DLA

You can claim DLA in two different ways – by phone and then returning the form to the DWP or by downloading the form and sending it to the DWP.

We would advise that you start your child’s claim by phone instead of downloading the form. This is because when you phone the DWP that day counts as the start date for the claim. If you download the form yourself and send it back, the start date for the claim is the day the DWP receive and process the form. This could mean your child misses out on a few extra weeks of DLA payment and you could miss out on other benefits or benefit top ups if their claim is successful.

For example, if you phone the DWP on the 23 May, that date is the start date of the DLA claim even though you may not return the form until June.

If you download the form on 23 May and send it to the DWP after taking some time to complete the form and they receive it on the 14 June, the 14 June will be the start date of the claim.

If you want to start your child’s DLA claim by phone you can call the DLA helpline on:

0800 121 4600 (telephone) or 0800 121 4523 (textphone)

You can also use Relay UK with an app or textphone if you can’t hear or speak. You can type what you want to say then 18001 then 0800 121 4600. You can find out more about Relay UK here.

The phone lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, except Bank Holidays and calls are free from both landlines and mobile phones.

If you want to download the form online, you can do so here.

You can also look at the form using the link above to find out what type of questions are asked so you are familiar with the information you will need to provide once it arrives.

Once your child’s form arrives you will be given a date to return it by. This is usually about 6 weeks.

You should be given an envelope to return the DLA form in but if you do not receive one or misplace it the address to return the completed form is:

Disability Benefit Centre 4
Post Handling Site B
WV99 1BY

You may be waiting for some extra information from your child’s school or doctor. We would advise you to send the completed form before the end of the 6-week deadline and let the DWP know you will be sending further information and a rough estimate of when you expect this to be.

You should get a letter from the DWP after about 2 weeks confirming they have received the DLA form.

You should get a decision letter from the DWP after about 3 months although this can vary.


Once the DWP make a decision about your child’s DLA claim they will write to you with the outcome. The decision letter will tell you if an award has been made, what rates your child will receive and how much this will be. It will also say what date the claim starts from.

Alternatively, the DWP may say that they cannot award any DLA and they should give some explanation as to why. 

If you disagree with a decision, you can challenge it. For more information see our page here.

Other benefits and DLA

Sometimes people worry that their income or benefits will decrease if they successfully claim DLA for a child. This is not the case, and you may be able to get an increase in other benefits you already claim or become entitled to benefits you weren’t eligible for previously.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is made up of different elements. If you have a child, you should already get the child responsibility element. If your child is awarded any rate of the care component of DLA, then you can also get an additional element within UC – Addition for Child’s Disability.
This is £146.31 per month if your child has been awarded lower or middle rate care or either rate of mobility or is £456.89 if your child has been awarded higher rate care.
If you provide at least 35 hours per week of care to your child, you could also receive the Carer Element of UC in your award which is £185.86 per month.
This does not definitely mean that your UC award will increase by these amounts, but these amounts will be added into the calculation when working out how much UC you will get and is likely to result in you receiving more UC than previously.

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is different to the Carer Element of UC although they are similar.
Carer’s Allowance can only be paid if your child has been awarded the middle or higher rate of the care component of DLA. You must also provide at least 35 hours per week of care and:
Be aged 16 or over
You’ve been in England, Scotland or Wales for at least 104 out of the last 156 weeks (2 of the last 3 year) (this does not apply if you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection status)
You normally live in England, Scotland or Wales,
You’re not in full-time education
You’re not studying for 21 hours a week or more
You’re not subject to immigration control
Your earnings are £139 or less a week after tax, National Insurance and expenses
The amount of Carer’s Allowance is £76.75 per week and can be paid either weekly or four-weekly.
Any payments of Carer’s Allowance will be deducted from your UC award or legacy benefits pound for pound. It may still be worth claiming Carer’s Allowance if you want to have it paid on a different schedule to your UC payments. It also gives you Class 1 National Insurance Credits which could entitle you to claim some contribution-based benefits in the future.
Claims for Carer’s Allowance can be backdated for up to 3 months.
As of November 2022, there were 3,604 Carer’s Allowance claims in payment in Telford & Wrekin.