Tips for claiming DLA

It’s one of the questions I get asked a lot : “Is it worth applying? What if they turn me down? What if I say the wrong thing?”

Well, the worst ‘they’ (The DWP) can say is ‘No’. So give it a go. DLA (disability living allowance) is there for us to help our children and make a difference to their lives; for some of us, that might mean paying for private speech therapy sessions, or sensory toys; for others, it might mean running the family car. It is a provision that is there for us so there’s no harm in applying.

Here’s a few tips to help:

  • Request the application form over the phone. That way, it will be backdated to when you made the phone call (as long as you send it back within six weeks). Otherwise, it will be dated from when they receive the form.
  • Don’t expect the decision maker to know anything about autism or other special needs. Chances are, they don’t. Write an idiot-proof guide to your child’s difficulties and additional needs. Use key phrases such as “This is more support than another child of Adam’s age would need” or “This is far greater than the care needs of  a typical nine-year old”. They have to see there is a difference and the needs are additional in order to award DLA.
  • Describe your child’s worst days. This is stated on the form but many parents don’t want to ‘over-exaggerate’ their child’s needs. Believe me; you are not exaggerating- you are used to coping with additional needs. There’s also the space provided to say how often your child has a ‘bad day’; you might want to use phrases such as “5 out of 7 days, Kieran is unable to dress himself without verbal prompting and reminders.” This gives the decision makers a clearer picture.
  • Include all the relevant paperwork. It probably may not be read, but have it there. Include a massive bundle to show that you’re not just chancing your arm, that this is a real child with real needs.
  • Photocopy your form and your evidence before you send it. Just in case it gets lost and you have to do it all over again.
  • Send it recorded delivery. Yes, there’s a free postage envelope, and yes, most of us are on a budget but better to be safe than sorry.
  • Ask for help. Speak to someone at your child’s school or nursery who can help you fill it in if you are struggling or e-mail me/ special needs support groups/ local children’s centre / citizen’s advice bureau/ national autistic society.
  • Keep a diary of your child’s behavior. Send that in with the form and the evidence; it gives the decision maker a better idea of the challenges our children face.

Remember, you are doing this for a good reason: you are trying to help your child and give them the best support you can.

Have you had success or hassle trying to claim DLA? Let me know in the comments or PM me.

Further information and advice:

National Autistic Society

GOV.UK Disability Helpline

Citizen’s Advice Bureau- DLA information

© Peta Slaney, 2020, All Rights Reserved.

Peta Maria Slaney

SEN advisor. Mum. Writer. Spoonie. Shakespeare buff. INFJ. Bibliophile.

3 thoughts on “Tips for claiming DLA

  1. I’m not familiar with DLA, but I can share advice my family was given when applying for programs to help my sister: “talk about what it’s like on a bad day, not on a good day.”

    Usually, we focus on the positives, the gains, and the reasons to smile. However, when it comes to getting help, it won’t get our loved ones the help they need.

    It took a few tries, but my sister did get into the program we applied for. She gets great services now.

    1. Exactly! Oftentimes, we are so used to living with our challenges that we don’t see them as being particularly difficult. It’s something I find most parents struggle with emotionally when completing the forms: the realisation of the additional needs their child has and how it impacts everyday life.
      In the UK, the DLA forms provide space to describe how a need varies, which is important if you have someone who has good days and bad.

      1. Yes, we’re so used to focusing on the good. It’s weird to focus on the bad. If I were to do so with my sister, it would almost feel like a betrayal. However, I may be her caregiver in 10 years or so, so I should be prepared for what that’ll involve.

        I didn’t know the forms did that in the UK. I don’t know the details of the forms in the US where I live. I’m sure my parents will help me when it’s time for me to understand it.

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