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Disability Living Allowance - can you claim?

Disability Living Allowance - sometimes referred to as DLA - is a tax-free benefit for children and adults who need help with personal care or have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally disabled.

You may get DLA if:

You can get DLC whether or not you work and it isn't usually affected by any savings or income you have.

If you are alreadying getting DLA when you reach 65, it may continue if you still have care or mobility needs.

How much do you get?

DLA has two parts called components:

Some peoople will be entitled to receive one component, others may get both. Both are paid at different rates depending on your disability.

If you have care needs

To get the care component of DLA, yur disability must be severe enought for you to:

There are three rates of care component depending on how your disability affects you:

You can get DLA for your care needs even if no one is actually giving you the care you need, even if you live alone.

If you have mobility needs

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

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

How to claim

Claim straight away because if you delay you may lose benefit. You can get a claim pack by:

Other useful contacts

Claiming for an ill or disabled child

Your child must need a lot more help or supervision than other children of the same age. You can claim for care needs before a child is aged three months, but benefit will not normally be paid before the child reaches three months.

You can claim for mobility needs when your child is:

How DLA is paid

DLA is normally paid directly into any account of your choice that accepts Direct Payment of benefits. This might be a bank, building society or other account provider. You may be able to get someone else to collect your DLA if you wish. For help with this, contact your account provider. If you would like more information about how you can be paid by other means, contact the office dealing with your claim.

Special rules

If you have a progressive disease and are not reasonably expected to live more than six months, there are special rules to help you get DLA more quickly and easily. You can get the highest rate of the care component immediately without waiting until you have needed help for three months.

You can make a claim for someone under the special rules without them knowing or without their permission. If they satisfy the relevant conditions, they will get a letter saying that they have been awarded DLA, but special rules will not be mentioned.

Medical examinations

You will not usually need a medical when you claim for DLA. But some people may be asked to have a medical examination. This is usually because more information about your disability or illness is needed before a decision on your claim can be made.  The examination involves an interview and sometimes a medical examination with a doctor who has completed specialised training in disability and benefit awareness.

The examination is likely to be different from what you would expect from your own doctor. The Medical Services doctor's examination is not to diagnose or discuss treatment. It is to assess how your condition affects you and the doctor may not need to carry out a physical examination.

Effect on other benefits and entitlements

If you start to get DLA, it might increase the amount of other benefits or credits you're entitled to, such as Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. DLA is normally ignored as income for working out these income-related benefits and credits.

What else you need to know

To get DLA you must be resident in Great Britain, or be treated as living here, and meet certain other conditons about your residence. Changes to your circumstances can affect the amount of DLA you get or whether you get it. For example, this could be a stay in hospital or if your disability gets worse or better. The office dealing with your claim can answer any questions you have about claiming and receiving DLA.

Attendance Allowance

If you are aged 65 or over, you cannot start claiming Disability Living Allowance, but you may be able to get Attendance Allowance (AA).

AA is a tax-free benefit for people aged 65 or over who need help with personal care because they are physically or mentally disabled.

Who can get Attendance Allowance?

You may get attendance allowance if:

Father of four Dean Third has been unable to work since being diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in 2005. Here he talks about the benefits he has been able to claim

I had worked hard to make my way up from an engineer to middle management and was earning £28,000 a year and had a company car.

My job included carrying ladders on most jobs. So after my diagnosis it became clear that I would not be able to do such a manual job, at least in the short term. But to be honest it was the last thing on my mind at that time.

Providing sick pay was something that my employer was not happy about and I got the bare minimum the law would allow. And because I was claiming Statutory Sick Pay, the rules did not allow me to claim Income Support.

I was quick to apply to my local authority for Housing Benefit (as I had a landlord to pay) and Council Tax Benefit. The forms were long and I found myself going over the same information again and again. You have to contact your council as soon as you realise you have a problem because they will not back date these benefits.

My company soon decided I would not be able to my job anymore and dispensed with my services with just one month's pay. Without going into the ins and outs of this, I was paid £27 after their deductions - a normal month's money would have been about £1,600.

Not wanting my family to go hungry, as soon as I got my notice I contacted the benefit agencies. My first point of contact with the JobCentre Plus and they advised me who to contact regarding Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance.

The Government has centralised many benefit services. For Incapacity Benefit you need to make sure that you have up-to-date sick notes from your GP or hospital or they will not pay. And after six months they will send you for a PCA (personal capability assessment). The first one I had said that I was able to work. (You must remember their job is to get people off benefits and back into work whether you are ready or not).

I disagreed with this so I appealed. While on appeal you get Income Support instead and this is affected by whether your partner is working or not. I won the appeal and my Incapacity Benefit was reinstated. Four weeks later I had another PCA. The doctor at this one was more understanding and signed me off until February 2007.

I tell them how it is for dilated cardiomyopathy sufferers. We may look a million dollars but it's how we feel inside that counts.

The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was applied for in the same way but the form was relatively easy to fill in and understand. I find that with this condition one day I am up and the next day I am down. The authorities need to know this and the worse case scenario.

A mobility and a care component can be applied for. The latter you can claim if you have a carer, whether that is your partner or someone who comes in to help. I applied for the first part and received the full allowance that is in excess of £42 per week. This takes approximately 12 weeks to process but will be back-dated to the date your apply.

It is possible to trade in your weekly allowance for the use of a car under the Mobility Scheme. The amount of your benefit depends on the car that is used. I have a Vauxhall Zafira. On this the tax is looked after and so is the insurance, servicing, tyres and repairs. You are under contract for three years. However, all my DLA is used on this, but with four young kids I would be at a loss without it.

I have also registered with my local authority as disabled and have a blue badge and free bus pass. As I like to try to walk, I can then hop on a bus if I get stuck.

The Cardiomyopathy Association's Registered Charity Number is 803262.
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