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Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Key information

Disability Living Allowance is money for people who have extra care needs or mobility needs (difficulty getting around) as a result of a disability. There are two parts called components, the care component and the mobility component, you may qualify for one or both of these.

Applies to: Northern Ireland

You can no longer make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in England, Scotland or Wales as it has been replaced by Personal Independence Payment.

If you already receive DLA and were aged between 16 and 64 on 8 April 2013, you will eventually have to make a claim for Personal Independence Payment instead, even if you have been given an indefinite or lifetime award of DLA. See our Personal Independence Payment information sheet for more details.

If you live in Northern Ireland PIP is expected to be introduced during the 2015/2016 financial year.

Age rules: You must be 16 or over but under 65 when you first claim.

If you have a child with an illness, injury or disability, see Disability Living Allowance - claiming for children. If you are 65 or over see Attendance Allowance

Type of benefit: Non means tested

Taxable: No 

Administered by: Disability and Carers Service



You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does DLA help?

You must have had the care and/or mobility needs for at least three months before you claim Disability Living Allowance and expect to have them for at least six months after.

Care needs

You have care needs if you need help with things like getting dressed, going to the toilet or cooking a main meal for yourself. Or you must be supervised so you do not get hurt. It could include help outside the home. It does not matter if you do not actually get this help as long as you can show you need it.

Mobility needs

You have mobility needs if you cannot walk or you walk with difficulty. Or you cannot walk outdoors or on an unfamiliar route without help from someone else most of the time. This can be because of a physical or mental disability.  It does not matter if you do not actually get this help, as long as you can show you need it.

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Rules for people who have a terminal illness

If you have a terminal illness and your doctors say that you are reasonably expected to die within six months there are special rules which mean you can get the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance straight away - you do not have to have care needs for three months before you claim or expect to have them for six months after.

You will need to ask your doctor/healthcare professional for a form called a DS 1500 and fill in the special rules section of the DLA claim form.

If you have difficulty walking, you must also fill in the mobility section of the form.

Another person, such as your partner, relative or friend, can apply for DLA on your behalf without your knowledge under the special rules. Even if someone else makes the claim for you, the money will be paid to you.

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How much does it pay?

There are two parts of DLA. You could get either or both components.

Care component: This is paid at one of three different weekly rates depending on your care needs:

Higher          £81.30 (£82.30 from April 2015)

Middle          £54.45 (£55.10 from April 2015)

Lower           £21.55 (£21.80 from April 2015)

Mobility component: This is paid at one of two different weekly rates, depending on how difficult it is for you to get around:

Higher £56.75 (£57.45 from April 2015)

Lower  £21.55 (£21.80 from April 2015)

If you receive DLA you also qualify for a Christmas Bonus each year. This is usually £10. You do not need to make a claim for the bonus it is paid automatically. It does not affect any other benefits you might get.

If you qualify for the higher rate of the mobility part of DLA, you could also get help to buy or lease a car under the Motability scheme.

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How do I make a claim?

Northern Ireland

You can get a Disability Living Allowance claim pack by:

The Benefit Enquiry Line can also arrange for someone to help you fill out the claim form if needed.

See the NIdirect website for more information on how to claim Disability Living Allowance.

England, Scotland or Wales

You can no longer make a claim for Disability Living Allowance if you are aged 16-64, see Personal Independence Payment instead.

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The period of your award

If you request a claim pack over the phone, the date of your phone call will be treated as your date of claim as long as you send your form back within six weeks of that date.

If you download a claim pack, the date the form is received will be the start date for your claim.

If you are awarded DLA, the award will run for either a fixed period (eg from 10 July 2013 to 9 July 2015) or will be indefinite.

Most initial awards are for a fixed period. You will be invited to re-claim before the award expires.

Even if you have an indefinite award, the Disability and Carers Service may randomly select your claim for a periodic review. This is where they send you a review form to check if your condition or need for help has changed.

Challenging decisions

If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim you can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or appeal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

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Change of circumstance

You must report changes in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement to this benefit.

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Help to buy or lease a car (Motability)

There is a scheme called Motability available to you if you, or your child, are getting the higher rate mobility component of DLA.

This helps you to buy a car on hire purchase or lease one as the hire purchase or lease payments are covered by your DLA high rate mobility component which is usually paid direct to Motability.

You usually have to pay a deposit but might get help to pay this. 

If you lease the car, then insurance, breakdown cover, and repairs are included. Mileage up to a certain limit is included in the price as well.

If you cannot drive, or prefer not to drive, you can name up to two other people as drivers

Motability also offers a contract hire scheme for powered wheelchairs or scooters.

For more information, see the Motability website (link opens in a new window) or phone: 0845 456 4566.

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Further help

You can get further advice from the Disability Living Allowance Helpline. You can call them on: 08457 123 456 

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Benefit Cap and Disability Living Allowance

If you, your partner or your child receive Disability Living Allowance, you will be exempt from the Benefit Cap.

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Last updated: 13 February 2015

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