Talking about tomorrow


Main disability-related benefits

These are currently managed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – under 16

This is no longer available to adults. Children receiving DLA should apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when invited to do so: children who have not received DLA should apply directly for PIP.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – age 16–64

This is for disabled adults who find it difficult to carry out tasks related to independent living or who need help getting around outdoors. It isn’t means tested and will continue if someone starts work. There are three stages to an application:

  • Completing a short form on the phone with a DWP adviser. A parent can make the phone call, but unless you’ve been accepted as an appointee by the DWP your young person must be with you to confirm they are happy for you to speak for them.
  • A detailed written questionnaire about how the person’s disability affects them. You must return this within a month – you can ask for an extension, but it’s not guaranteed. You can include supporting evidence about someone’s condition. Avoid sending original documents, and keep a photocopy of the form so you remember what was said.
  • Most people have to attend a face to face consultation. You can ask for an assessment at home, but this isn’t guaranteed. You can go with your young person to support them, make sure they understand the questions, and help them answer if necessary.

Universal Credit (UC) – age 16 to pension credit age for someone who has “limited capability for work”

This new credit uses one payment to replace six other benefits, including income related employment and support allowance (ESA), housing benefit and income support. It doesn’t affect PIP. Universal credit is scheduled to apply to all areas of the UK by December 2018. It is means tested, based on the young person’s income and savings.

Young people claim online at They are asked to agree to a “claimant commitment” – many claimants are expected to look for work. If they can’t work they need medical certificates (“fit notes”) from their GP. The DWP sends a questionnaire to assess how someone’s condition affects them and there may be a face to face assessment to decide how much they will receive and if they should take steps to find work or become “work ready”.

People who receive the benefits universal credit is replacing will be moved onto universal credit gradually from 2019.

Carer’s allowance

This is the main benefit for someone looking after a disabled person. Many parents of disabled children and young adults qualify. You are eligible if:

  • You are 16 or over
  • You are not in full time education
  • You look after someone who receives the middle or highest rate of the care component of DLA, or either rate for the daily living component of PIP, for 35 hours a week or more (care overnight and at weekends counts)
  • You don’t earn more than £120 a week (£123 from April 2019) after certain deductions – only the carer’s earnings are taken into account, not other household members
  • You meet criteria linked to your immigration status and length of stay in the UK.

Appealing a decision

If you’re unhappy with a decision about benefits you can ask for a “mandatory reconsideration” within a month of the decision date. If you’re still unhappy after the revision you can appeal to an independent tribunal in writing, again within a month. Late appeals may be accepted, but this isn’t guaranteed. It’s useful to involve a support worker, benefit adviser or voluntary organisation to get help with preparing an appeal.