Disability Living Allowance is a weekly stipend of money (paid every 4 weeks) to support the costs of raising a child with additional needs. I am surprised how often I meet families of children with additional needs who have not applied for Disability Living allowance (DLA). When I ask them why they haven’t, more often than not it is because they think it isn’t meant for them. I have begun to realise that people are missing out on (desperately needed) support because of a few myths floating around. Let’s debunk those myths and get on the right track!
Myth: I earn too much
Many families assume that if they are eligible for other income related benefits (e.g child tax credit) they won’t be eligible for DLA. This simply isn’t true. DLA is calculated purely on the amount of care a child requires and is not related to family income at all. Supporting a child with disability incurs additional expense, it just does! Whether it’s paying for private therapy sessions, robust sensory toys or that specific pair of supportive shoes they need. Having that bit of wiggle room in the budget can only ever be a good thing. Some families really need the money week on week to provide much needed essentials for their child, others are able to save up their DLA for a larger purchase when needed. If DLA helps to cover some of the specific additional expenses then this frees up money in the budget for things that benefit the whole family.
Myth: My child is not disabled enough
I know, even writing that sentence I feel a little sick. But honestly, this is what people say. There are two components to DLA. One is based on mobility whilst the other is based on level of care. Sometimes parents assume that if their child is able bodied, they will not qualify for support. Understandably, the level of support for those with greater need is higher. (But wouldn’t it be great if there was more money in the pot overall? I will save you a full political rant … for today at least!)
Some families will be eligible for both the mobility and care component whilst others will only meet criteria in one aspect. Ask yourself – does my child need more care than other children of their age? If the answer is yes, then it is definitely worth looking into DLA. For some families, if they are eligible for DLA they might also be eligible for a carer’s allowance.
Myth: Others need this more that I do
If we look hard enough there are always be someone more in need than us, even when we are in times of real challenge in our lives. This doesn’t mean that the challenges you face as a family are any less valid, or any less worthy of receiving support. Everybody wants the very best for their child. You don’t need to feel guilty about wanting that for your child too. It really is ok to give yourself permission to make the most of every possible opportunity you can.
Myth: My child is too young
Several families I have worked with have assumed that DLA is for older children. Perhaps because toddlers and pre-schoolers require a high level of care due to their age anyway. Typically developing older children are usually expected to be more independent and able to support with some of their own day to day care needs (dressing, brushing teeth, feeding themselves). Parents find it easier to list examples of how their school aged child needs more care than other children their age. That doesn’t mean that a young child with developmental delays doesn’t need extra care that would meet the criteria for DLA.
Myth: The application process is difficult
Well, the application form is probably a little on the long side! However, many families would have most of the necessary information handy and would quickly find any extra bits that are needed. It takes a while to fill the form in but if it means getting extra support for your child each week, then it seems to be a no brainer to invest that time (and bit of hassle). There are people that can help you to fill in your DLA form if you are worried about it or are finding it tricky including :
- Citizens advice bureau
- Health visitor
- School family support or home-school link worker
There are some great tips here for filling out your DLA form https://skybadger.co.uk/2018/08/20/dla-form-a-step-by-step-guide/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu5-mwf3Y5QIVhrHtCh3_dgumEAAYAiAAEgLwJvD_BwE
If you would like more bespoke support with a DLA application email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Billingham is a specialist teacher and one half of Confident Kids, a unique Early Years service. They equip parents and carers with expert knowledge and the practical tools they need to offer their little people the very best support they can.