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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 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 12 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 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

Your child must be in England or Wales when you make the claim. If your child lives in Scotland permanently, you'll need to claim Child Disability Payment instead - check how to claim Child Disability Payment on

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

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 been in the UK for long enough, check if there’s another way for them to pass the past presence test or if they can get DLA without passing the test.

If your child has a terminal illness

Your child doesn’t have to pass the past presence test if they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness and their doctors say they could die within 12 months.

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

Check if your child is habitually resident.

If your child is moving to Scotland permanently

You must tell the DWP if your child moves to Scotland. 

You’ll continue to get DLA for your child for the first 13 weeks after they move to Scotland. After that, you’ll get a Scottish benefit for your child called Child Disability Payment. 

Find out more about Child Disability Payment on

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

You can only get DLA for your child if their immigration status lets them claim public funds.

Your child can claim public funds if you have any of the following:

  • British or Irish citizenship
  • pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • indefinite leave
  • refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • right of abode

If your child has any other immigration status, check if their immigration status lets them claim public funds.

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.

Contact helpline
Telephone: 0808 808 3555
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 9:30am to 5pm
Tuesday, 10:15am to 5pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.


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