For New Parents : Benefits

Please click on a FAQ below to expand.

For more information, please see our families and carers section.

1. What is the Carer’s Allowance?

You can claim the Carer’s Allowance (CA) if you look after someone who gets the middle or higher rate of the care component of DLA, for 35 hours or more a week, and you aren’t working and earning more than £102 a week, and you’re not a student. A partner’s earnings or savings are ignored.

Claim for the Carer’s Allowance within 3 months of the decision to give Disability Living Allowance to your child, and your CA will be backdated in full.

See our Carer’s Allowance page for more information or contact the Benefits advisers at the DSA on +44 (0)333 1212 300.

2. I’ve just had a child with Down’s syndrome. What benefits can I claim?

You need to find out about:

3. Does everybody with Down’s syndrome get Disability Living Allowance?

Yes, in our experience – eventually. About one in 5 have a problem with their claim. If you are having trouble claiming, see Guidelines for claiming Disability Living Allowance or contact the Benefits advisers at the DSA on +44 (0)333 1212 300 .

4. When should I claim Disability Living Allowance for my child?

This is one of the hardest questions to answer, because it depends on each individual child’s situation. You should claim when you feel that your child’s needs are a lot greater than those of most other children of the same age.

The earliest it is possible to claim is when your child is 3 months old and in some cases, a claim should be made then (for children with medical problems, such as a heart defect, or babies with feeding problems.) Probably most claims should be made somewhere between 6 and 12 months old. See Guidelines for claiming DLA for more detailed information on the DLA rules or contact the Benefits advisers at the DSA on +44 (0)333 1212 300.

5. Why have I been refused Disability Living Allowance for my child?

Many parents claim DLA for their child at some time during her/his first year. Then they are upset and confused when they get a refusal from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), saying “your child doesn’t have any more needs than any other child of the same age.” This can feel like a very personal and insulting attack, as they have just been told that their child has a lifelong disability.

Why does this happen?

The rules for DLA are not “common sense” or logical. They are defined in legislation, where words and phrases have a very specific meaning. So, for example, the phrase “your child does not have any more needs than any other child of the same age” actually refers to a complicated definition of whether your child’s needs are “substantially greater” than those of most other children of the same age. Parents know that their child has greater needs, but the DWP is trying to fit individual children into their system of definitions. And often they behave as if their definitions are “reality”!

The DWP need a lot of information to make a proper decision on DLA. Unfortunately, the claim form is not actually very clear about the level of detail that they need. This means that decisions are made wrongly based on insufficient information.

Decision makers do not have a good enough understanding of people with learning disabilities. They do not really grasp the information they are given about an individual child.

Making a DLA decision for a child involves comparing that child with other children of the same age. Decision makers are not medically trained, and often they are confused about or simply ignorant of “normal” child development.

It is possible that you have claimed before your child’s needs are “substantially greater” than those of most other children of the same age. However, in our experience, it is more common for children to be wrongly refused.

If you’ve been refused DLA for your child, there are steps you can take. See Guidelines for claiming DLA or contact the Benefits advisers at the DSA on +44 (0)333 1212 300 .

6. Can my child get the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA?

Yes, some people with Down’s syndrome get the higher rate of the mobility part of Disability Living Allowance. However, they are a minority. It is the most difficult rate to qualify for. If your child has problems with walking, or serious behavioural problems, they may qualify. See Guidelines for claiming DLA or contact the Benefits advisers at the DSA on +44 (0)333 1212 300.

7. What will happen to my child’s benefits when they reach 16?

Most young people have a renewal of their Disability Living Allowance when they reach 16. Yes, unfortunately, this means filling in the form again. The form will be different as it is the adult form. But if your child’s needs haven’t changed, they should continue to get the same amount of DLA.

This year Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has been introduced and will eventually replace DLA for those age 16 – 64. This is being done in stages. Anyone who is renewing a DLA claim for someone who reaches age 16 on or after 7 October will be invited to claim for PIP rather than DLA.

Anyone else age over 16 and who’s award runs out after 24 February 2014 will be invited to claim PIP rather than DLA. Please see our DLA guidelines 16+ for further details.

They can also claim other benefits in their own right. Most young people with Down’s syndrome can get:

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – ESA replaced Incapacity benefit from 27 October 08.

Those already receiving Incapacity Benefit will eventually be asked to claim ESA.

However, if they claim Employment and Support Allowance, please note that you will stop getting Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for them. If the whole family is on benefit (Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance, for example), you may be better off NOT claiming ESA for your child with Down’s syndrome. Check if you are in this situation. See our Benefits section or contact the Benefits advisers at the DSA on +44 (0)333 1212 300.

8. I’d love to take my family on holiday but I can’t afford it. Is there any financial help?

The Down’s Syndrome Association is not able to give financial help to individual families. However, there are organisations that are able to give grants. One of the best known is the Family Fund Trust. They can help with needs to do with a child’s disability (including holidays). The grants are means-tested. Children with Down’s syndrome do receive help, but each case is considered individually.

The Family Fund Trust
Unit 4
Alpha Court
YO32 9WN

Tel: 0845 130 4542

There are many other organisations that give grants for a wide variety of needs, though be aware that many receive far more requests for help than they are able to meet. If you need financial help for something that would make dealing with your child’s disability easier, see our Financial help from other charities or contact the Benefits advisers at the DSA on +44 (0)333 1212 300. We may be able to help you find suitable grant-giving organisations.

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