Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 1: Benefits and tax credits
6. Disability living allowance
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6. Disability living allowance

Disability living allowance (DLA) is a benefit for people with mobility problems and/or care needs as a result of a disability. For claimants aged between 16 and 64, DLA is being replaced by personal independence payment (PIP – see Cross reference). New claims for DLA can now normally only be made by claimants aged under 16. 

DLA has two components:

a care component, paid at either the lowest, middle or highest rate; a mobility component, paid at either the lower or the higher rate.

You can get either the care component or the mobility component, or both. DLA is not means tested and you do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get it.

The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the administration of DLA.


Who can claim disability living allowance

You qualify for DLA if:Footnote you are under age 16 when you first claim. Those aged between 16 and pension age may be able to claim PIP and those who have reached pension age may be able to claim attendance allowance; and you satisfy certain UK residence and presence conditions, and are not a 'person subject to immigration control'. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details; and you satisfy the disability test for the care component (see below) and/or the mobility component (see Cross reference); and you have satisfied the disability test for the last three months and are likely to continue to do so for the next six months (unless you are terminally ill).


Disability test: care component

To get the care component, you must have a physical or mental disability which means you need the following kind of care from another person. What is important is the help you need rather than the help you actually get.

You get either the lowest, middle or highest rate.

You get the lowest rate if you need attention in connection with your bodily functions (see Cross reference) for a significant portion of the day. This attention might be given all at once or spread out. It should normally add up to about an hour or more, or be made up of several brief periods.

You get the middle rate if you need care either during the day or during the night, but not both. You get the middle rate if you meet one (or both) of the day care conditions or one (or both) of the night care conditions.

You get the highest rate if you need care both during the day and the night. You get the highest rate if you meet one (or both) of the day care conditions and one (or both) of the night care conditions. Alternatively, you should get the highest rate if you are terminally ill. This means that you have a progressive disease and can reasonably be expected to die as a result within six months.

There is no lower age limit for the care component. If you are under 16, you must show that your need for attention or supervision is substantially in excess of the normal needs of other children of the same age without a disability or similar to those of a younger child without a disability.


Day care conditions

You need frequent attention throughout the day in connection with your bodily functions (see below). This means you may qualify if you need help several times (not just once or twice), spread throughout the day. If you need help just in the mornings and evenings, for instance, you might get the lowest rate.

You need continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid substantial danger to yourself or others. The supervision needs to be frequent or regular, but need not be literally continuous.


Night care conditions


You need prolonged or repeated attention at night in connection with your bodily functions (see below). You should qualify if you need help once in the night for 20 minutes or more. You should also qualify if you need help twice in the night (or more often), however long it takes.

In order to avoid substantial danger to yourself or others, you need another person to be awake at night for a prolonged period (20 minutes or more) or at frequent intervals (three times or more) to watch over you.


Attention with bodily functions

This is help from someone to do personal things you cannot do entirely by yourself. Bodily functions are things like breathing, hearing, seeing, eating, drinking, walking, sitting, sleeping, getting in or out of bed, dressing, undressing, communicating and using the toilet. Any help in connection with an impaired bodily function counts if it involves personal contact (physical or verbal in your presence) and it is reasonably required.


Disability test: mobility component

You can get either the lower or higher rate mobility component.

The lower rate is for people who can walk but who need guidance or supervision. You qualify if you are able to walk, but because of your mental or physical disability you cannot walk outdoors without guidance or supervision from someone else most of the time.

You can still qualify if you are able to manage on familiar routes. If you cannot manage without guidance or supervision on unfamiliar routes, or you cannot manage anywhere, you should qualify.

The higher rate is for people who cannot walk or have great difficulty walking because of a physical disability. You qualify if:

you are unable to walk; or you have no legs or feet; or you are virtually unable to walk. This takes account of the distance you can walk before you feel severe discomfort. There is no set distance at which you pass or fail the test. Some people have passed who can walk 100 metres; others have failed who can walk only 50 metres. The speed at which you walk and how you walk also count; or the exertion required to walk would lead to a danger to your life or could cause a serious deterioration in your health; or you are deaf and blind; or you are severely visually impaired.

Someone who is severely mentally impaired may also qualify if s/he gets the highest rate care component and meets other conditions. This can help a child with severe learning disabilities and disruptive behaviour to get the higher rate mobility component even if s/he is physically able to walk.

You have to be at least age three to get the higher rate mobility component and at least age five to get the lower rate mobility component. For the lower rate, you must need substantially more guidance or supervision than a child of your age without a disability would normally need.


Disability living allowance for over-16s

Some people aged 16 or over are currently getting DLA. All existing DLA claimants, except those who were already 65 on 8 April 2013, will be invited to claim PIP. Their existing DLA awards will end. See CPAG's Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.


Amount of benefit
Weekly rate £
Care component
Lowest rate 22.65
Middle rate 57.30
Highest rate 85.60
Mobility component
Lower rate 22.65
Higher rate 59.75

7. Employment and support allowance

Employment and support allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who have limited capability for work because of illness or disability. There are two types – income-related ESA (see below) and contributory ESA (see Cross reference).

'Limited capability for work' is assessed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), usually at a medical examination.

The DWP is responsible for administration of ESA.


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