If you have a disabled child or a child with a long term illness, what state benefits and help are you entitled to? Most parents find they have extra costs associated with having a disabled child, so any help could make a difference.
State benefits and help for parents with a disabled child
If you have a disabled child, you may be entitled to some state help. But the benefits system is very complex, the rules change frequently and the claims process can be difficult and time-consuming.
- The government’s Gov.uk website has information about Help if you have a disabled child, which is designed to co-ordinate the help a family with a disabled child may be entitled to.
- A number of the charities that represent people with disabilities also produce advice factsheets or have online resources that you can download. The Gov.uk site has a section with information about support groups for parents of disabled children.
SAVVY TIP: Charities such as Contact run helplines that will talk you through the procedure and explain what the questions really mean.
Disability Living Allowance
This used to be the main benefit paid to disabled children (and adults). Children under the age of 16 will continue to receive and and can apply for it. However, they will have to claim the personal independence payment (PIP), which is replacing disability living allowance for adults, when they reach 16.
- Disability Living Allowance or DLA is not means tested, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a higher earner and is made up of different components, which can be paid at different rates.
- The care component is available for children who need help with looking after themselves, for example with washing, eating or dressing. It can be paid at a lower, middle or higher rate.
SAVVY TIP: There’s information about Disability Living Allowance for children on the government’s Gov.uk site. There’s also some useful information about Disability Living Allowance on the Contact website.
- The mobility component is available for children who need help getting around.
SAVVY TIP: If your child needs specialist equipment, such as a motorised wheelchair, they may be eligible for help from the NHS. However, children can face a long wait. The charity Whizz-Kidz helps around 750-800 children every year by providing motorised wheelchairs and trikes. It’s a small charity with limited resources, but it might be worth approaching.
Benefits for carers
If your child gets Disability Living Allowance at either the middle or highest care rate, you may be eligible for the Carer’s Allowance, which is currently worth £66.15 a week (in tax year 2019-20). It’s not much, but it’s worth claiming if you’re entitled to it. There’s information about claiming Carer’s Allowance on the Gov.uk website.
- If you’re working, you can’t earn more than £123 a week in the tax year 2019-20, although you’re allowed to take tax, National Insurance, care costs while you’re at work and half your pension contributions off your weekly wage.
- You have to care for your child for at least 35 hours a week.
SAVVY TIP: If you claim one of these benefits (which means you’re not eligible for Carer’s Allowance, Carers UK says it’s still worth putting in a claim as you may qualify for the Carer Premium. This isn’t a benefit payment, but means you get extra money if you claim council tax benefit, income support etc.
The rules on claiming Carer’s Allowance are different if you’re in Northern Ireland. There’s information about Carer’s Allowance on the NI Direct website.
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