Advice: ‘Do I qualify for Disability Living Allowance?’

Pat Hutchinson MBE.
Pat Hutchinson MBE.
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By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB

Q: I am a 40-year-old man and I have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which affects my whole body. For the past year I have needed help with getting washed and my walking is very limited. Would I qualify for Disability Living Allowance?

A: Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for disabled children and adults under 65 years old, to help with extra costs you may have because you are disabled. It is not based on your disability but the needs arising from it. For example, if you need someone to help look after you. You must have had these needs for three months and expect to need this help or have these difficulties for at least another six months.

To get the care component of Disability Living Allowance, your disability must be severe enough for you to either:

• need help with things such as washing, dressing, eating, getting to and using the toilet, or communicating your needs

• need supervision to avoid you putting yourself or others in substantial danger

• need someone with you when you are on dialysis

• be unable to prepare a cooked main meal for yourself (if you have the ingredients), if you are aged 16 or over

There are three rates of care component depending on how your disability affects you. You can get Disability Living Allowance for your care needs even if no one is actually giving you the care you need, even if you live alone.

If you have mobility needs: To get the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, your disability must be severe enough for you to have any of the following walking difficulties:

• because of a physical difficulty, you are unable or virtually unable to walk without severe discomfort, or at risk of endangering your life or causing deterioration in your health by making the effort to walk

• you have no feet or legs

• you are assessed to be both 100 per cent disabled because of loss of eyesight and not less than 80 per cent disabled because of deafness and you need someone with you when you are outdoors

• you are severely mentally impaired with severe behavioural problems and qualify for the highest rate of the care component

• you need guidance or supervision most of the time from another person when walking out of doors in unfamiliar places

There are two rates of the mobility component depending on how your disability affects you.

If you are claiming for a disabled child: Your child must need a lot more help or supervision than other children of the same age.

Special rules apply if you are terminally ill: If you have a progressive disease and are not reasonably expected to live for more than six months, you can get Disability Living Allowance more quickly. You can get the highest rate of the care component whatever your care needs are. And you can get the care component and (if you meet the conditions) the mobility component, without waiting three months.

• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or log on to www.adviceguide.org.uk

Call Newtownabbey CAB, Dunanney Centre, Rathcoole on 028 9085 2271 or email enewtownabbey@citizensadvice.co.uk