What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance is a tax-free benefit for disabled children and adults to help with their extra costs you may have because of your disability.  It is an award not based on your disability but on the care you need because of your disability.


Who can get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

You may get DLA Care Component if:

You have a Physical or Mental Disability, or both

Your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or have walking difficulties or both

Care needs include:

Need help with things such as washing, dressing, eating, getting to and using the toilet or communication needs

Need supervision to avoid you putting yourself or others in substantial danger

Need someone with you when attending dialysis

Be unable to prepare a cooked main meal for yourself (if you have the ingredients), if you are 16 or over

You are under 65 when you claim

If 65 or over you may be able to get attendance allowance

If you are terminally ill (life limited)


Mobility Component

To get the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, your disability must be severe enough for you to have any of the following walking difficulties, even when wearing or using an aid or equipment you normally use:

  • because of a physical difficulty, you are unable or virtually unable to walk without severe discomfort, or at risk of endangering your life or causing deterioration in your health by making the effort to walk
  • you have no feet or legs
  • you are assessed to be both 100 per cent disabled because of loss of eyesight and not less than 80 per cent disabled because of deafness and you need someone with you when you are out of doors
  • you are severely mentally impaired with severe behavioral problems and qualify for the highest rate of the care component
  • you need guidance or supervision most of the time from another person when walking out of doors in unfamiliar places

There are two rates of the mobility component depending on how your disability affects you:

Lower rate

If you need guidance or supervision out of doors.

Higher rate

If you have any other, more severe, walking difficulties.

From April 2011, certain categories of severely sight impaired people are also eligible to claim the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.

You need to be certified as severely sight impaired by a consultant ophthalmologist and be aged between three and 64 on 11 April 2011.  You must also:

  • have a best corrected visual acuity of less than 3/60
  • have a best corrected visual acuity of 3/60 or more, but less than 6/60
  • have a complete loss of peripheral visual field and a central visual field of no more than ten degrees in total

You may be entitled to only the care component or only the mobility component, or you may be entitled to both.


Is DLA means tested?

No disability living allowance is not means tested it is a non contributory or income based benefit.


Where do I apply for DLA?

 Contact the disability living allowance branch at castle court, Belfast

Telephone 02890906182


Can I get help to fill out a DLA form?

Yes the Autism Network NI has produced a CD which is designed to help you understand their conditions and therefore help you fill in the answers to the questions asked, when applying for DLA for children with Aspergers syndrome. Cost £5. We are working on the Adult Forms at present.  Your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Welfare Rights can also provide assistance.


Helpful information when applying for DLA.

In Northern Ireland there has been a review of disability living allowance, this review has meant that many of those receiving the benefit have had their benefit withdrawn.

The DLA agency is contacting G.P.ís and schools for information instead of the professionals dealing with the person.

Due to this situation we have been in contact with other charities and asked what information they are giving to those people who are experiencing these difficulties with the DLA benefits agency.


The advice we have been given from Disability Action is :

Do not give details of your G.P. on the DLA form (unless your G.P. knows about the Childs/ your condition and is aware of the Childs/your difficulties).

Always tell the G.P. before you apply for DLA and ask them what they will be putting on the form.

Do not give details of the school. (Unless the school knows about the Childs condition and is aware of the Childs difficulties many schools do not).

Always tell the school before you apply for DLA and ask them how they will be answering the DLA agency.

Include a note advising the DLA benefit office that you do not give them permission to contact the G.P. or school ( if your G.P. or School is not aware of the difficulties) explaining that if they wish information on your condition/s or your Childs condition/s that you give them the permission to contact the specialist/s.

You have the right to withhold your Phone number.

Include reports from the specialist dealing with you or the childís condition/ conditions.

If you receive a letter from the benefits office asking once again for the contact details of the school. Write back explaining that you are having difficulty with the Childs school i.e. providing adequate support and that you feel the school would not provide a non bias opinion of the Childs needs and difficulties and that you feel that they lack the specialist training to answer their questions. But that you once again ask that they contact the specialist/s dealing with the child.

If you receive a letter from the DLA benefits office asking for the details of your G.P. inform them that the G.P. is a general practitioner and that they have no specialist knowledge of the condition/s and that you request them to contact the specialist dealing with the your or your Childs condition/s.

Always keep a copy of completed DLA form, all letters and medical reports.

If you are turned down for DLA ask them to review your case.

If the review of your case does not help you access DLA ask to make a complaint.

If all else fails you have a right to ask for a disability living allowance appeal Tribunal to be heard.


What are the rates for DLA BENEFIT?



Disability Living Allowance is in two parts - the care component and the mobility component. You may be able to get just one component or both.


 Care component      

 Weekly rate

 Highest rate


 Middle rate


 Lowest rate



 Mobility component

 Weekly rate

 Higher rate


 Lower rate


What is DLA reform

The reform of disability living allowance (DLA) will mean that DLA will be replaced by a personal independence payment (PIP) for those of working age from April 2013.

As yet there are no plans to extend PIP to children under 16 or claimants who are over 65. However migration from DLA may apply to these groups at a later date.

Part 4 of the Welfare Reform Bill 2011 currently going through Parliament contains proposals to introduce PIP.




Incapacity Benefit is now called Employment and support allowance (ESA)

Who can apply for ESA?


You may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance if any of the following apply to you:


  • Your Statutory Sick Pay has ended, or you cannot get it
  • You are self employed or unemployed
  • You have been getting Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and have not gone back to work for your employer because you have an illness or disability which affects your ability to work.
  • You are under state pension age


You must also either:


  • Have had an illness or disability which affects your ability work for at least four days in a row (including weekends and public holidays)
  • Be unable to work for two or more days out of seven
  • Be getting special medical treatment


If you are aged between 16 and 20 (or under 25 if you were in education or training at least three months immediately before turning 20), you must:


  • Have been too ill to work because of an illness or disability for at least 28 weeks (this limitation only applies to contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance)
  • Have been too ill to work before you turned 20 ( or 25 if you were in education or training at least three months immediately before turning 20)


If you are eligible to apply you then begin the following process




This is paid for the first 13 weeks of your claim while a decision is made on your work capability assessment.











Between weeks 9-13 of this phase, you will attend a work-focused interview with a centre plus adviser.


A doctor appointed by the Department for Social Development (not the customerís own GP) will carry out Work Capability Assessment of the customerís eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance and their capability for work-related activity.


If they deem that you are able to undertake some form of work-related activity a ĎWORK RELATED ACTIVITY GROUPí In the main phase.


If you are in the WORK RELATED ACTIVITY GROUP, you will regularly see your personal adviser to discuss your work prospects.  They will give you advice with:


  • Your job goals
  • Your skills, strengths and abilities
  • Steps you can take to help find suitable work
  • Your ideas, problems and any other work related issues you want to talk about.



The main phase starts at week 14 of your claim, if the work capability assessments shows that you are capable to work your weekly rate will go up to









If you refuse to go to the work focused interviews, or to take part fully in the work focused interviews, it may affect your entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance.


If they deem that you are unable to undertake any form of work-related activity, then you will enter the Support Group from the beginning of week 14 of the claim.


The main phase starts at week 14 of your claim, if the work capability assessment shows that your illness/ disability DOES limit your ability to work your weekly rate will go up to









PLEASE NOTE in most cases you will not receive any money for the first 3 days of your claim.  These are called Ďwaiting daysí.

Depending on your circumstances you may be able to get more money if you get income-related Employment And Support Allowance.

You can only get extra money for your Husband, Wife or Civil partner if you get income-related Employment And Support Allowance.


We have been informed by Disability Action that it is also possible to top up these amounts with income support. We would advise you to contact your local Benefits office and enquire if this is possible.


Carer's Allowance


Who is entitled to Carerís allowance?


         Anyone who looks after someone who is disabled.

         You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person that you care for.


Who can get Carers allowance?


         Anyone who is aged 16 or over and spends at least 35 hours a week caring for a person getting Attendance Allowance, or Disability Living Allowance (at the middle or highest rate for personal care),



Who cannot get Carer's Allowance?


  • You cannot get Carer's Allowance if you are in full-time education of at least  21 hours a week
  • Earn more than £100 a week after deductions i.e. Income Tax.
  • You receive the state retirement pension.
  • You receive other state benefits i.e. income support.


How much do I get for carers allowance?

  • The weekly rate is £55.55.
  • You may be entitled to get an additional amount for your husband, wife or civil partner, or someone living with you who looks after your dependent child /children.