If you care for a disabled child, you and your child may be entitled to some financial assistance towards their care and support. However getting support is often complex and can cause frustration and stress.
Many are unaware of the benefits they may be entitled to claim for or when they should make a claim. Here we hope to inform you of your rights and give information on the benefits that your child may be entitled to.
There are several benefits that may be available and these include:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Carers Allowance
- Working and Child Tax Credit
- The Blue Badge Scheme
- Road Tax Exemption
- Direct payments - arranging your own care and services
- The Family Fund
EmploymentSome of the benefits are means tested and others are based on the needs of your child. It can also seem complex and complicated, therefore there are some good resources available to help you or come along to the group to meet and talk to other parents about their experiences and tips.
Disability Living Allowance
DLA is for people who have a disability or an illness and is paid to their parent/guardian until the age of 16, after which is it is paid to the child in their own right. It is not means tested and is also a tax free benefit. DLA is broken down into two parts - Help with Personal Care an Helping with getting around outdoors. Your child may be entitled to one part or both dependant on their needs. The childs needs must be in excess of what a child without disabilities of that age would need.
Help with Personal Care
The care component of DLA is set at three rates - Lower, Middle, Higher - and is designed for children who need extra care or supervision. To qualify for the lower rate component your child must require extra care for a significant portion of the day. For middle rate, they must need continual supervision or frequent care during the day OR prolonged or repeated care or supervision during the night. For higher rate, the care and supervision requirement must be across the day and night.
Help with Getting Around/Mobility
The mobility component of DLA is for children who have difficulties getting around and walking. It is set at two rates - Lower and Higher. Lower rate is only available to children over 5 years of age who need signficantly more help, guidance or supervision outdoors than any other children of their age. Higher rate is for children who have severe difficulties walking, cannot walk, severe mental or behavioural problems. This is available from the age of 3 years of age.
Keep a diary
It is recommended that you keep a diary of your child's daily care and supervision needs for a period of at least two weeks before you complete the application form. This is an invaluable way to keep relevant information about your child and will assist greatly when you come to fill out the form.
Applying for Disability Living Allowance
You can get a claim pack for DLA from the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 88 22 00, your local Jobcentre Plus office or local social security office. Ensure you request a DLA1 Child form.
You can also find more information including current rates and you can download the forms from the Directgov website.
If you request a form from the Benefit Enquiry Line, the date of request will be treated as your date of claim from which Disability Living Allowance can be paid, as long as the form you receive is returned within six weeks of that date. If you delay making a claim, you may lose out on benefit.
The person taking your call will not have your personal papers but will be able to give you general advice. This advice must not be taken as a decision about your claim.
If you request a form from your local Jobcentre Plus office or local social security office, the date of request will be treated as your date of claim from which Disability Living Allowance can be paid, as long as the form you receive is returned within six weeks of that date. If you delay making a claim, you may lose out on benefit.
Carers AllowanceIf your child receives the middle or highest rate care component of DLA, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance. This benefit is for people who are looking after a sick or disabled person. If you get the middle of highest rate care component for your child, care for your child for a minimum of 35 hours per week, you are not in fulltime education, and earn less than a certain amount per week, you may be entitled. There are some benefits that will prevent you from claiming Carers Allowance but even if this is the case, you may still get Carer Premium. For more information on Carers Allowance go to the Directgov website.
Working and Child Tax Credits
Child Tax Credit can be claimed by anyone with a dependant child whether you work or not and is paid in addition to Child Benefit. If you are eligible for Child Tax Credit and your child receives DLA care (lower or middle rate) you should be receiving a disability element to your tax credit calculation. If you are eligible for Child Tax Credit and your child receives DLA care (higher rate) you should be receiving a severe disability element to your tax credit calculation.
Working Tax Credit can be applied for if you have a child and you and your partner (if applicable) are working at least 16 hours a week. Also there are some exceptions if you dont work and care for children. It can sometimes help towards childcare costs but rules apply. Working Tax Credit is paid through your employer in your wages or by the Inland Revenue if you are self-employed. The child care element is paid directly to the carer
For more information on both tax credits including the rules and application forms go to the Inland Revenue website or call the helpline on 0845 300 3900.
The Blue Badge Scheme
The Blue Badge Scheme (formerly known as the Orange Badge Scheme) is designed to allow people with disabilities to park close to shops or other places they need to visit. It also entitles them to a designated parking place outside their home, and free parking in metered areas and on yellow lines. In Scotland you apply to the cheif executive of your local authority.
Motability is a scheme to help people with disabilities and those that care for them, buy or hire a car. To qualify you must be recieving the DLA Mobility component at the higher rate.
Further information is available from the motability website.
Road Tax Exemption
If your child is on the higher rate of the mobility component for Disablity Living Allowance and you have a vehicle that is being used for the direct purposes of the disabled person, you can apply for a Road Tax Exemption certificate by contacting the Disability Living Allowance Unit, on 0845 712 3456.
Direct payments - arranging your own care and services
If you have been assessed by your local authority as needing care and support services, you may want to choose direct payments. They allow you to buy in and arrange help yourself instead of receiving it directly from social services.
In 2001 the Scottish Executive set up and funded Direct Payments Scotland to increase the uptake of direct payments throughout Scotland. Find out more from Scotland's National Disability Information Service website.
The Family Fund
The Family Fund is financed by the government and administered by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The fund is for families with children under the age of 16 who are severly disabled. Grants can be made for such items as bedding, clothing, washing machines, holidays etc.
Tel: 0845 130 4542 for more details and an application form or write to The Family Fund, PO Box 50, York YO1 9ZX.