Parents of disabled children

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for adults and children who need help looking after themselves or who have difficulty walking because they are physically or mentally disabled. DLA can be paid on top of earnings, benefits or tax credits and savings are not taken in to account. An award of DLA can lead to extra payments of Tax Credits, Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

In terms of eligibility your child must need a lot more help or supervision than other children of the same age. The DLA is split in to two parts - mobility and care, where each has different rates of funding (low-high).

You are able to claim for mobility needs if your child:

  • is unable, or virtually unable, to walk (from age three)
  • is assessed to be both 100% disabled because of loss of eyesight and not less than 80% disabled because of deafness  (from age three)
  • is severely mentally impaired with severe behavioural problems and qualifies for the highest rate of care component (from age three)
  • needs guidance or supervision when walking out of doors (from age five)

You can claim for care needs before your child is aged three months, but benefit will normally only be paid for children three months or older, except in special circumstances.

For further information or to request a claim form please contact the dedicated benefits enquiry line on 0800 88 22 00, textphone: 0800 24 33 55 (8.30am to 6.30pm from Monday to Friday and 9.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday).

You can also contact your local Jobcentre Plus or go on the GOV.UK site for other ways to claim. You can download the 'Disability Living Allowance for children' leaflet below.

Carer's Allowance

Carer's Allowance is the main state benefit for carers, which is paid to someone aged 16 or over providing care to a disabled child or adult.

If your child gets Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate, and you are caring for them for 35 hours a week or more, you may be able to get Carer's Allowance. Other benefits may also affect your eligibility. You should make a claim for Carer's Allowance within three months of the date you get a decision on your child's DLA, so that you don't lose any benefit.

If you are caring for a disabled child and would like further advice and support please contact the Salford Carer's Centre on 0161 883 0217 or email You can get a claim form by contacting the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 88 22 00 or the Carer's Allowance Unit on 01253 856 123. Alternatively, you can apply online. The 'Carer's Allowance' leaflet can be downloaded below.

Carer's Flexible Grant

If you look after someone who cannot manage without your help the Carer's Flexible Grant could help you take a break from caring. You have to be aged 18 or over and be a carer to apply for the grant. This includes you if you are the parent and carer of a disabled child. The grant is not means-tested. For details on how to apply for the grant and the different ways it can be used, please visit the Carer's Flexible Grant pages.

Extra Tax Credits for Disabled Children

If your child has a disability, or if you're responsible for a child with a disability, you may qualify for extra tax credits, to help cover the cost of looking after them.

You are eligible for extra tax credits if your child is blind or is receiving Disability Living Allowance and you may also be eligible for an additional sum if your child is severely disabled and receives the highest rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance.

To find out more about how much you may get and to request a claim form please call the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900, textphone 0845 300 3909 (open 8.00am to 8.00pm, seven days a week). For further information on tax credits please visit the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website or GOV.UK.

Direct payments

Direct payments are a way of arranging social care services for disabled children and young people and their families. Direct payments can be made to those with parental responsibility for a disabled child, giving them greater choice and flexibility over how, where and when support services are arranged. The local authority will decide whether a child is eligible by carrying out an assessment of needs called a Community Care Assessment. It is now mandatory for local authorities to offer the choice of direct payments and because direct payments come under the Children Act 1989 they should safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the same way as direct services.

As a parent you can use direct payments to buy a placement at a nursery offering specialist support, for short breaks, equipment, for personal care or to provide assistance for your child to attend an activity or after school club. It could also be used to employ a person to support and care for your child as a day or overnight carer.

For information, advocacy and support please see our direct payments page.

For impartial information and advice on money matters, please visit the Money Advice Service website.

Downloadable documents

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