What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?
We know that many deaf people and families of deaf children don't consider deafness to be a disability. However, even if you don't consider your deaf child to be disabled, they may still be eligible for disability benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You can also use this information if you live in Northern Ireland, some of the names of institutions are different but the law and the process is the same. If you live in Scotland, your child may be eligible for Child Disability Payment (CDP).
Read stories from families who have successfully applied for Disability living Allowance (DLA) and appealed decisions.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a disability benefit for children under 16 who are deaf or disabled. DLA helps towards some of the extra costs of raising a child who needs more looking after than another child of the same age without disabilities.
It’s not means-tested or taxable, which means that you can apply regardless of how much you earn, how much money you have in savings or any other benefits you may already receive. Getting DLA can also make you eligible for additional financial support, including help with transport and heating costs. There are no rules about what you can spend the money on.
There are two parts to DLA – the care component and the mobility component.
You can claim the care component if your child needs more help or supervision compared with a child of the same age without disabilities. For deaf children, this can include help with things like hearing, speech, lip-reading, making themselves understood and extra help at school. Extra supervision they may need to keep them safe, for example with young children to stop them putting their hearing technology in their mouth, is also relevant.
The care component is £26.90, £68.10 or £101.75 a week.
You can claim the mobility component if your child is at least five years old and needs more supervision when walking outdoors than a child of the same age without disabilities. If they have additional needs that cause physical problems with walking, you can claim from age three.
The mobility component is £26.90 or £71.00 a week.
Read Holi's story.
You can apply for DLA for your deaf child at any time before they turn 16. If you’re applying for the mobility component, your child must be at least five years old (or three years old if they have additional needs that cause physical problems with walking).
If you’re applying for DLA before your child is three years old, be really clear about all the extra help you give. All babies and toddlers need lots of care and attention, so it can be difficult to describe what you are doing that is over and above this. However, many deaf babies and toddlers need constant supervision because they are at risk of choking on their hearing technology – hearing aid batteries, for example, or require a lot more support to understand speech and learning language. This might make you eligible for the middle rate of the care component.
To claim DLA your child must be eligible according to DWPs eligibility rules.
Contact and Turn2us have a benefits calculator you can use to find out what benefits and financial help you may be eligible for. The calculator starts with a few short questions to find out if the calculator is suitable for your circumstances.
Residence and immigration rules
Citizen's Advice have more information about:
- the residence and immigration rules that apply
- whether your immigration status lets you get benefits.
If you're unsure whether you or a member of your household are British Citizens, you can:
You can make a new claim for DLA either by printing off the DLA claim form and submitting it to DWP, or you can call the Disability Living Allowance helpline to request a paper form or book a face-to-face appointment. The method you choose will have an impact on when any potential DLA payments will start.
Printing off the DLA claim form
Requesting a paper form or face-to-face appointment
You can call the Disability Living Allowance helpline at DWP for free on 0800 121 4600 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) to request a paper form and a prepaid return envelope or book a face-to-face appointment. If you phone for a paper form, there will be two dates stamped on it. The first is the date you requested the form and the second, six weeks later, is the date you have to return the completed form. If you return the form by the second date, any DLA your child is awarded will start from the first date (the date you requested the form).
If you're a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can contact the helpline by textphone on 0800 121 4523 or via Relay UK on 18001 then 0800 121 4600, and BSL video relay service on a computer or mobile or tablet.
If English isn’t your first language, you can contact DWP to get help in your chosen language. However, you have to apply in English.
Filling in the claim form can be a long and potentially upsetting process. Take your time and reach out for support. If you need help accessing or filling in the application form, you can call the Disability Living Allowance helpline at DWP for free on 0800 121 4600 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) to book a face-to-face appointment.
Alternatively, if you have questions about how to fill in the form for your deaf child, you can contact our free Helpline to talk to a helpline officer or to book a virtual benefits advice appointment.
The way Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) assess whether you should get DLA, and how much you should get, is based on a series of legal tests. Your claim will be assessed based on the information you provide on the claim form and any additional information you submit in support of your claim. Information you include in the form that isn’t relevant to the legal tests won’t be considered by DWP.
Remember, the person making the decision about your claim isn’t medically trained and may not understand deafness. When you fill in the form, you have to show that your child needs much more attention or supervision than a hearing child of the same age.
Attention is the practical help that you give to your child. For example, help with fitting, removing and maintaining hearing aids and cochlear implant processors, and help with communication and language development.
Supervision is watching over your child to avoid danger to them or another person. For example, making sure your child is safe when crossing the road.
If your child can’t do things that a child their age would normally be expected to do, give details on the form. If you know a hearing child of a similar age, it may help to make a comparison. Think about all the things you do that you wouldn’t need to do if your child was hearing and write these on the form.
It may be helpful for you to keep a diary for two or three days to show what a ‘typical day’ is like for you and your deaf child. Include this in your application. Try to record each time you give your child more attention and supervision because of their deafness. Note down how long it takes to provide extra care.
We’ve created example diaries to give you some ideas of what to include:
We've listed some examples of what extra attention or supervision can be.
- If your child is very young or a baby, making sure they don’t put parts of their hearing technology in their mouth.
- Cleaning, refitting, and looking after the hearing technology your child uses.
- Attracting your child’s attention before speaking to them.
- Repeating things because they haven’t heard you.
- Teachers needing to repeat what other children have said in class.
- Additional help with learning to make sure they don’t fall behind their peers.
- Being within touching distance of them when outside because they can’t hear road traffic.
In the form, you’re asked to write down how often you help your child and how many minutes this takes each time. It’s important to say how often each day you help your child, if you can. If you can’t say how long it takes because the time varies or it’s difficult to measure, leave the minutes box blank and explain this in the box underneath.
One of the legal tests for the care component of DLA is how much supervision a child needs. A child will be entitled to the middle rate of the care component if they require ‘Continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid substantial danger to himself or others.’ (Himself can mean any gender.) This is set out in the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 – Section 72 (SSCBA s.72(b)(ii)).
Continual supervision means frequent or regular, but not non-stop. Your child does not need to be supervised every single minute.
This legal test is relevant to deaf babies and young children who need to be supervised because of the risk of substantial danger from swallowing all or part of a hearing aid or cochlear implant processor, which contains a small button battery. This also includes potential risk to other children, who may pick up or swallow parts of hearing aids or cochlear implant processors if they’re removed or fall out, for example when children are playing.
It’s recommended that parents include the information sheet about button battery safety from the audiology department at Great Ormond St Hospital with their claim if relevant to their child.
Including supporting information in your application is very important as it helps you show DWP how your child’s deafness affects them and the extra support they need. If your child has additional needs, long-term conditions or disabilities in addition to their deafness, include their care and mobility needs in the same application form.
To provide DWP with an accurate picture of you and your child’s lived experience, you should include:
- medical reports or letters of identification, such as hearing test results, audiograms, ABRs, discharge letters from hospitals, or cochlear implant mapping reports
- details of any other conditions your child may have , their severity and the effect they have
- a daily diary of the additional care and attention your child requires because of their deafness and/or their additional needs
- test results or certificates, care or treatment plans, and therapies or adaptations
- social care or social work assessments
- educational support plans or reports or letters from your child’s school
- the supporting information form filled out by someone who knows or cares for your child.
We have instructions for friends, family and professionals on how to write a supporting letter for a DLA claim.
Any supporting evidence you send DWP should be a photocopy as they can’t return original documents, and you should submit any supporting evidence with your claim form. If you’re waiting for any pieces of supporting evidence, write what it is in question 89 and send it to DWP once you’ve received it: Freepost DWP DLA Child.
Make sure you write your child’s full name, date of birth and National Insurance number (if they have one) on each piece of evidence so it can be linked to your claim.
You should receive a decision from DWP about eight to twelve weeks after your form has been received. If your application has been successful, the letter will include the date of your first DLA payment and how long your award is for. In some cases, DLA will be awarded indefinitely (with no end date) but most of the time it will be awarded for a fixed period of three or five years.
DLA can’t be backdated. However, if you called the Disability Living Allowance helpline to receive a paper copy of the form, and you return your form within six weeks, your claim will start on the date of your first call. Meaning you’ll be paid DLA for the time it took for you to fill in and return the form, and for DWP to make their decision.
If DWP do not award you DLA, or you feel you have been awarded the wrong amount, because they’ve made an error or missed important evidence you submitted with your claim, you can ask them to look at your application again. This is called a mandatory reconsideration. It’s important to remember that when asking DWP to look at your DLA award again, there is a risk that it can go up or down, stop completely or stay the same.
In your request for a mandatory reconsideration, you need to explain what part of DWP’s decision you think is wrong and why. You can include evidence, but this should be new and not already included in your DLA application. They will send you a mandatory reconsideration notice with their decision.
Asking for a mandatory reconsideration
You can ask for a mandatory reconsideration by phone, by letter or by filling in and returning a mandatory reconsideration form. It’s better if you do this within a month of the date on the decision letter. However, mandatory reconsiderations can be asked for up to 13 months after the date on the decision letter. You will just have to give a reason explaining why the request was delayed.
DWP will usually accept a late request for mandatory reconsideration if you give a good reason.
If DWP do not accept your late request, you do not lose your appeal rights. The law only requires that you ask the DWP to look at the decision again first. If the DWP refuse your late request, you can go straight to appeal the decision to an independent tribunal.
If you’re still unhappy with your DLA decision after a mandatory reconsideration, you can ask for an appeal within one month. If you miss this, you can still appeal but you will have to explain why your request is late, and your appeal may not be accepted.
Your appeal is decided by the First-tier Tribunal, which is independent of DWP. You can choose whether to attend the tribunal in person, have a remote hearing by phone or video call, or have the appeal decided on the papers. If you have a hearing, you will be asked questions about your child. Your child will not attend or be asked any questions.
If you attend the hearing in person, you might get the decision on the day. Otherwise, it will be sent to you in the post after the hearing.
DWP may choose to review your current DLA award to make sure you are being paid the right amount. A review is not the same as a mandatory reconsideration.
They will ask you to provide more information about the impact of your child’s disability and may request updated supporting information. They may decide to stop your DLA or change the amount you have been awarded. You can apply for a mandatory reconsideration of a review decision.
Most DLA awards are given for a fixed amount of time, usually three or five years. If your child’s DLA renewal date is coming up, DWP should automatically send you a renewal pack with a new claim form.
A renewal is different from a review. For a DLA renewal you need to fill in the new claim form as if you’re applying for DLA for the first time. Treat it as an entirely new application.