Check if you can get DLA for your child
It’s very common for a parent to think they won’t be able to get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their child when they can.
DLA isn’t just for children who are physically disabled. It can be given for a wide range of medical conditions including behavioural and mental health conditions as well as learning disabilities and developmental delay. You might be able to claim even if you wouldn’t describe your child as ‘disabled’.
You can get DLA if at least one of the following applies to your child:
- they need a lot more care, attention or supervision than a child of the same age who isn't disabled
- they have difficulty walking or getting around outdoors in unfamiliar places, compared to a child of the same age who isn't disabled
Your child must have been disabled or had the condition for at least 3 months, and you must expect it to last for 6 more. You don’t need a formal diagnosis from a doctor to apply, but this can usually help.
If your child is terminally ill and not expected to live more than 6 months, you can apply right away regardless of how long your child has had difficulties for. Read more about applying for a terminally ill child.
If your child is terminally ill but their doctor expects them to live more than 6 months, you should talk to an adviser.
Your child needs to be under 16 for you to claim DLA - if they're 16 or over you'll have to claim Personal Independence Payment.
If your child's under 3 years old
It can be difficult to get DLA for a baby or an infant because all children of that age need a lot of care. But, you should still apply if your child needs more care, attention or supervision than a child of the same age who isn't disabled or doesn't have a health condition.
For example, most babies would be expected to wake during the night. But if you have to get up to give them a treatment such as an inhaler 2 or 3 times a night, then this means your child needs more care and attention than a baby who doesn’t need an inhaler.
If your child is under 3, you won't be eligible for the 'mobility component' of DLA - read more about components and how much DLA you can get.
Your earnings and other benefits
DLA isn’t means tested, so it doesn’t matter how much you earn or how much money you might have in savings.
Any other benefits you might be getting won’t be affected. In fact, getting DLA could mean that:
- you can get other benefits, or
- you can get a higher rate of the benefits that you currently get
Read more about extra help and support if you’re getting DLA.
If your child has lived outside of the UK
You must be in England, Scotland or Wales when you make the claim.
The UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man needs to be your child’s main home. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’.
If you’re the child’s parent or guardian and your child lives with you, you’ll also need to be habitually resident. Check how to prove you’re habitually resident.
Your child must also have lived in Great Britain for a minimum amount of time - this is known as the ‘past presence’ test. The past presence test doesn’t apply if:
- you or your child is a refugee
- your child is terminally ill
If your child has come from Ukraine because of the invasion
The past presence test doesn’t apply to your child if they:
- were living in Ukraine by 31 December 2021
- left Ukraine because of the invasion
- have a visa that gives them the right to stay in the UK
Great Britain is England, Wales and Scotland. It doesn’t include Northern Ireland.
How long your child needs to have lived in Great Britain depends on their age:
- if your child is aged 3 or older, they need to have lived in Great Britain for 6 months in the last year
- if your child is aged between 6 months and 3 years, they need to have lived in Great Britain for 6 months in the last 3 years
- if your child is aged 6 months or younger, they need to have lived in Great Britain for 13 weeks
The time spent in Great Britain doesn't need to have been in one go. For example, if your child is 3 and has lived in England for 3 months, the USA for 3 months, and Wales for 3 months, they would be eligible.
If your child hasn’t lived in Great Britain for enough time
They might be eligible if they’re dependent on a parent who has either:
- worked and paid National Insurance in the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein for 6 months in the last year
- claimed benefits in the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein for 6 months in the last year
Your child might also be eligible if they’re dependent on a family member who has a ‘genuine and sufficient link’ to the UK.
A family member has a genuine and sufficient link if they:
- have lived in the UK for nearly 2 years
- work or are self-employed
- have close family in the UK who they rely on for care and support
- get certain benefits in the UK
The rules in this area are complicated and it’s best to get advice before you apply. Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.
If your child or their parent gets a pension or benefit from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein
Your child’s eligibility for DLA could be affected. The rules in this area are complicated and it’s best to get advice before you apply. Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.
If your child isn’t a British citizen
The rules depend on your child’s situation
If you or your child are from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein
You can normally only claim DLA for your child if they have one of the following:
- British citizenship
- pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
- indefinite leave to remain
If you’re waiting for a decision from the EU Settlement Scheme
You can claim DLA for your child if both of the following are true:
- they had a right to reside in the UK on 31 December 2020
- you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme for them by 30 June 2021
Your child’s right to reside depends on things like your work, family and personal situation. You can check if they had a right to reside.
Clients with a different immigration status
Your client can also claim DLA for their child if the child has limited leave to remain with a condition that lets them claim public funds - this is rare.
If none of these apply to your child, you might be able to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme. You’ll need to have a good reason for missing the deadline of 30 June 2021. Find out more about claiming benefits if you’re from the EU.
Exemptions from the right to reside and habitual residence test
Your client might be exempt - for example, if they were the victim of trafficking.
If your child is ‘subject to immigration control’ or they have a visa that says ‘no recourse to public funds’
You shouldn’t apply for DLA - if you do, it might affect your child’s right to stay in the UK.
If your child has come from Afghanistan since 15 August 2021
Your child might be able to get DLA if they came to the UK through one of these schemes:
the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, ARAP
the Afghanistan Locally Employed Staff Ex-Gratia Scheme (ALES)
the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, ACRS
Your child also might be able to get DLA if all of the following apply:
they came to the UK from Afghanistan because of the fall of the government on 15 August 2021
they’ve been given ‘leave to remain’
it doesn’t say ‘no public funds’ on their immigration papers
you’re habitually resident or have passed the past residence test
You might get asked to prove your child’s immigration status. You’ll need to show one of the following:
- a document showing they have come to the UK through one of the schemes
- a stamp or visa in their passport
- a letter from the Home Office that shows when they arrived and why
Before you try to get DLA for your child, talk to an adviser.
If your child is a refugee
Your child is eligible for DLA if they are a refugee or the immediate family member of a refugee.
Get help and support
You can talk to your nearest Citizens Advice for help understanding if you can claim DLA. You can also talk to a specialist at the ‘Contact’ charity - they're experts in DLA for children.
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.