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Check if you can get DLA for your child

This advice applies to England

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 your child:

  • needs more care, attention or supervision than a child of the same age who isn't disabled, or
  • has difficulty walking or getting around outdoors in unfamiliar places

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

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.

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.

Other circumstances that affect your eligibility

If your child's under 3

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

If you’re not from the UK

If your child is subject to immigration control, your immigration status could be at risk if you apply for DLA. If you or your child aren’t UK citizens, it’s a good idea to contact your nearest Citizens Advice to get advice before you apply.

You’ll need to prove different things about your life here if you’re from the EU or European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. You’ll need to do this if you’re from Switzerland too.

You’ll need to give evidence to show:

  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’
  • you’ve lived in England, Scotland or Wales for 2 out of the last 3 years - this is called the ‘past presence test’

Check if you’re habitually resident

It’s best to check if you’re habitually resident first. You’ll then need to show you can pass the past presence test.

If you’re a returning UK resident

You’ll need to give evidence to show the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’.

Check how to prove you’re habitually resident.

Regardless of what your immigration status is, your child must have lived in in England, Wales or Scotland for a certain amount of time to be eligible:

Your child’s ageHow long they need to have been in England, Wales or Scotland
Under 6 months 13 weeks in the past 6 months
6 months to 3 years 6 months in the past 3 years
3 years or over 2 years in the past 3 years

You might be able to apply if you’ve spent time living in another EEA country - or you're a refugee or immediate family member of a refugee. It’s best to contact your nearest Citizens Advice or call the DLA helpline to check.

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 a family’ charity - they're experts in DLA for children.

Contact helpline
Telephone: 0808 808 3555
Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5pm
Calls are free from all phones in the UK.

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