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Disability Living Allowance

You can no longer make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance unless you live in Northern Ireland or you’re under 16 years old. This page explains what will happen if you’re already getting Disability Living Allowance and changing to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It also has information about how to apply for Disability Living Allowance if you live in Northern Ireland.

On this page:

About Disability Living Allowance

This is a benefit for people who have a physical or mental disability and need help to care for themselves, help with getting around, or someone to supervise them to remain safe. It’s similar to Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance

Who is Disability Living Allowance for?

If you live in Northern Ireland, where Personal Independence hasn’t been introduced yet, you can still make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance. You can no longer make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance in England, Wales and Scotland because it’s being replaced by Personal Independence Payment.

People already getting Disability Living Allowance

Everyone who’s on Disability Living Allowance and was aged under 65 on 8 April 2013 will eventually be moved on to Personal Independence Payment over a period that’s expected to last to 2017. The date this happens for you will depend on why your claim has to change. Your claim will need to change:

  • when you renew it (on the expiry of your existing fixed term award)
  • if you need to amend it because of a change of circumstances, for example, because your health is worse or your illness has become terminal
  • because you turn 16
  • if you’re invited to claim Personal Independence Payment by the DWP

Personal Independence Payment will eventually be introduced for all existing Disability Living Allowanceclaimants throughout the UK who were under 65 on or before the 8 April 2016. 

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If you’re already getting Disability Living Allowance and become terminally ill

If you’re getting Disability Living Allowance at the lower or middle rate and your illness becomes terminal, it counts as a change in circumstances. It may mean you qualify for the benefit at the highest rate instead.

You’ll need to make a claim for Personal Independence Payment under the special rules. It’s a good idea to claim as soon as possible because new claims for Personal Independence Payment cannot be backdated.

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How to claim Personal Independence Payment if you’re already getting Disability Living Allowance

Being invited to claim Personal Independence Payment

The DWP will send you a letter telling you to start claiming Personal Independence Payment. You have four weeks to respond. 

You won’t be able to stay on Disability Living Allowance, but as long as you claim Personal Independence Payment by the date given on the letter, your Disability Living Allowance continues while you’re assessed for Personal Independence Payment. You may be able to get more time for claiming, so if you do need more time, contact the DWP and explain why.

Second invitation to claim Personal Independence Payment

If you don’t claim Personal Independence Payment after the first invitation from the DWP, you’ll be sent another letter asking you to claim this benefit. If you don’t claim by the date given on the second letter, your Disability Living Allowance will be suspended. 

The DWP must write to tell you that your Disability Living Allowance has been suspended and give you another four weeks to claim Personal Independence Payment. As long as you claim Personal Independence Payment by the date given, your Disability Living Allowance payments will start again. If you don’t claim Personal Independence Payment during this period, your Disability Living Allowance entitlement ends. You can still make a claim for Personal Independence Payment after this, but you won’t be paid Disability Living Allowance in the meantime.

Getting the decision

When you get a decision about your claim for Personal Independence Payment, your entitlement to Disability Living Allowance ends four weeks after the next Disability Living Allowance pay day. You’re Personal Independence Payment entitlement will start to be paid after this. Even if your Personal Independence Payment claim has been turned down, your Disability Living Allowance entitlement still runs on for four weeks.

If your claim is rejected

If you’re refused Personal Independence Payment or you disagree with the DWP’s written decision, you have one month to ask for the decision to be reconsidered. This is called mandatory reconsideration. If you’re not happy with the outcome of the reconsideration, you have another month to appeal.

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Claiming Disability Living Allowance if you live in Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland, where Personal Independence Payment hasn’t been introduced yet, you can still make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance. Personal Independence Payment will be gradually introduced into Northern Ireland from 20 June 2016.

The special rules for people living with a terminal illness  

If you’re living with a terminal illness you may be able to get Disability Living Allowance under the special rules. This means if you’re not likely to live for more than six months, your claim will be fast-tracked and if you qualify you’ll get the benefit at the highest rate. This timeframe is set by the Social Security Agency (SSA).

The assessment process

You can call the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 220 674 and ask for a claim pack or you can download a claim form from the nidirect website  . It’s usually better to phone the helpline, rather than use the online form, because your claim can be backdated to the date of your call. 

The Social Security Agency (SSA) will issue a date stamped claim form, which will come with a postage-paid envelope addressed to the Disability Benefits Centre that will be handling the initial claim. If you return the completed claim form within six weeks, the date you phoned and asked for the form counts as the date of claim. If you take longer than six weeks to return the completed form, explain why on the form. If the delay is reasonable, the time limit can be extended. If not, the date of claim is the day the completed claim form reaches the Disability Benefits Centre.

 If you download a claim form from the nidirect website, the date of claim is the day the completed form reaches the Disability Benefits Centre. There is no possibility of backdating a claim for Disability Living Allowance to an earlier date. 

If you’re claiming under the special rules, you’ll be asked to send a factual statement (called a DS 1500 report) from your doctor or consultant to the DWP when you make the claim. Your doctor should have copies of the DS 1500 form. 

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Can someone else claim on my behalf?

Someone else can make the first phone call to claim on your behalf, for example a family member or a support worker. You’ll still need to be with them when they do so unless they’re making a claim for you under the special rules.

If you have a terminal illness (as defined by the SSA) you don’t have to make the claim or be present when the claim is made or know the claim is being made. Another person, including your doctor, can claim Disability Living Allowance on your behalf, for example if you’re not well enough to complete the claim form, or haven’t yet been told the full nature of your condition.

If you qualify under the special rules

You’ll be awarded Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate and it will be backdated from your date of claim. Awards are usually made for three years so they can be looked at again if you live longer than originally expected. 

If the SSA decides that you don’t meet its criteria for terminal illness, it will to consider your claim under the ordinary assessment for the benefit.

The assessment process if you don’t qualify under the special rules

In your claim form you must set out how you need care, help or support with things like:

  • getting in and out of bed
  • bathing
  • going to the toilet
  • dressing
  • eating
  • dealing with medication 

The benefit may also be paid if you need supervision to prevent danger to yourself or others. 

You should also give details about how your disability or condition causes you any difficulty getting around outdoors – this may mean you can be awarded extra money for the mobility component. The SSA may send a doctor or healthcare profession to assess and report on your needs. The process can take weeks or months. 

How much could you get?

Disability Living Allowance has two components: 

 Care component for help with care or supervision:

  • lowest rate: £21.80 a week
  • middle rate: £55.10 a week
  • highest rate: £82.30 a week

 Mobility component for help with getting around:

  • lower rate: £21.80 a week
  • higher rate: £57.45 a week

If your claim is accepted

Disability Living Allowance is normally paid direct into your bank account every four weeks in arrears. It can be paid weekly in advance if you have qualified under the special rules. You can spend it on what you like and you don’t have to spend it on disability-related needs. Payment normally stops if you go into hospital or a care home for 28 days or longer.

If your claim is rejected – next steps

If you’re refused Disability Living Allowance or you disagree with the SSA’s written decision, you have one month within which to ask for the decision to be reconsidered. If you’re not happy with the outcome of the reconsideration, you have a further month to appeal.

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Useful links

Advice NI  
Citizens Advice  
Debt Action NI  
nidirect   – Disability Living Allowance in Northern Ireland

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