Claiming Disability Living Allowance Benefits

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free social security benefit intended for adults and children with a long-term illness or a disability like ADHD. Here's how it works.

Disability Living Allowance

If you live in the U.K. with a child who suffers from ADHD and you have to take more care of them than you would have to for a non-sufferer, or an adult who has major problems with employment: they or you may qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - this is, however, dependant on various criteria including mainly the question of how much extra care does the child need compared to others of the same mental age. This includes supervision/safety issues as well as personal care. (E.G. if a child is 10 and has ADD/ADHD, they may be compared to another child with the mental age of 7, as it is generally regarded that children with ADHD are approximately 3 years behind in their emotional development than their peers of the same chronological age. This means that if a child of 10 cannot be allowed to go out without supervision, they would, in fact, be compared to a child of 7 who may not actually be allowed to go out without supervision.)

Therefore when applying for DLA, you must be aware that although other children of the same chronological age may have no problems in a certain area in which your child does, this does not mean they will qualify for DLA unless they have more difficulty than another child of the same mental age group. The best thing to keep in mind is to compare the things your child has difficulty with to another child of approximately 3 years younger than your own child and then, if this younger child would still have no problem with the task, then this may well qualify your child for DLA.

It's basically divided into two areas, mobility allowance and care allowance. Each one has it's own levels which you have to qualify for. For example, our Richard is quite mobile but needs constant supervision in crossing roads etc., so he currently qualifies for the lowest mobility rate. In terms of the care allowance, he needs to be watched over virtually 24 hours a day, even with medication. He needs constant supervision (more about this later) with dressing, washing, going to the loo etc. etc. He therefore qualifies for the higher rate care allowance.

The forms for DLA are long and quite daunting. It could be said that they appear to have been designed solely for physical handicaps rather that mental ones, as the questions don't appear to lend themselves to easy answering when considering the latter. Take time to complete the forms. Try to break it up and complete sections over several evenings. Don't skip any questions because you think they don't apply. Read them again and again just to make sure you can't put something. I was a Claims Manager before leaving my career to look after Richard and believe me these forms are similar, in that the Benefit Authorities like all questions to have an answer, even if it's 'Not Applicable', rather than leave them blank or, worse still, put a line through them.

Look at your child as though you were filling in the form for a stranger and complete the questions accordingly. Really ask yourself, how does this apply rather than does this apply? For example, Richard can go to the toilet unaided, so why do I say he needs constant supervision. Because, if you sometimes don't remind him he looks as though he needs to go, he'd quite happily stand there and let it run down his leg. If he has a bath, apart from the normal struggle of getting a teenager to actually take a bath, I need to make sure he washes under his arms etc., etc., or he'd just get part way into the water, get straight out and make a half-hearted attempt at drying himself. In other words, if I wasn't there, he wouldn't think to bother. This goes for dressing and many other activities. He can cross the road, but many is the time he's suddenly strode away from me and quite oblivious to the danger, darted across the road, with cars swerving to avoid him. I think you get the picture.

If after filling the form in you get rejected, try, try, try again. Don't give up if you think you qualify. It really is an extra boost, especially if you're on income support or similar benefit. You can be working to claim it as well, as it is for the child and not for you.

There has also recently been some research carried out into DLA and ADHD, the abstract of which is below:

The Role of Disability Living Allowance in the Management of ADHD


Objective To explore the use of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by families of children and adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and to discuss the implications for clinicians involved in their treatment.

Study design Opportunistic survey of patients attending ADHD clinic.

Setting Urban area in the north-east of England. Subjects A total of 32 carers of children being treated for ADHD with methylphenidate.

Intervention Semi-structured telephone interviews about receipt and use of DLA.
This involved open and closed questions and a multiple-choice section.

Results In total, 19 out of the 32 families were receiving DLA.
They chose to use it mainly to replace clothes and furniture and to provide diversions and activities for the children concerned.
Some families were unaware of potential eligibility for DLA, whereas a few had chosen not to apply.
OOnly one family's application for DLA had been unsuccessful.
Carers were unanimously positive about the extra income.

Conclusions Families view DLA as an important means to replace damaged items and to fund recreational activities to contain over-activity.
Families receive little formal guidance on ways of using DLA money to support children with ADHD.
Virtually no specific training in benefits awareness is provided to general practitioners and child health specialists, who are often asked to judge the child's level of impairment or incapacity. Applying for DLA may affect the therapeutic relationship for good or ill.
There is a need for professionals in contact with children with ADHD to inform families of the possibility of receiving DLA and support them in applications. As diagnosis and treatment of ADHD becomes more commonplace, more families are likely to be entitled to claim DLA. This has definite implications for the social security budget.

B J Steyn, J Schneider and P McArdle
Child: Care, Health and Development, vol. 28, 2002, p.523-528br> Document Type: Research article ISSN: 0305-1862

Some Adults with ADHD May Also Qualify for DLA or Incapacity Benefit

This is also dependent on a number of things including generally a medical by the Benefit Agency Doctors - Consideration is also considered for things like the ability to attend and achieve daily tasks and the ability to hold down employment. Some people with ADD/ADHD have difficulty in holding down a job due to the problems they have with attention, focus and general time keeping and things like this. Check with the local Benefit Agency Office for details or you can find more information and criteria for both these Benefits on the Benefit Agency Website at where there are also application forms, which can be downloaded.

Speaking to the Disability Officer at the local Job Centre is certainly worthwhile as they will be able to help with employment issues including speaking to potential employers and seeking to sort out certain accommodations with the employer before starting the job so that the employer knows about the condition and how it can impact on the work and with colleagues. The Disability Officer has a lot of experience in working with employers and helping to secure various accommodations, which can help to enable the person with ADHD, succeed in the employment stakes.

To get the forms contact your local benefits office. The Benefits Agency have web pages at that are well worth a look at.

There is also a great site full of really helpful information about all benefits at this is very well worth checking out as they have far more than general information but also do training and look at implications of various appeals cases.

Another helpful site is at; this is very well worth checking out as they have specific information for ADHD and children as well as other general information.



APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 5). Claiming Disability Living Allowance Benefits, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: May 7, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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