Disability Living Allowance & Attendance Allowance
Why DLA and AA are so important?
DLA and AA are arguably the most crucial income-maximising
benefits in the book! Though less generous than the special
disablement schemes (e.g. Industrial Injuries Benefits - always
check these first!), they are more widely applicable. DLA and AA
are so important because:
- They are always payable on top of other benefits.
- They do not overlap with any other non-means tested
- They are not counted as income in the calculation of means
- They are non-means tested and are not taxable.
- They can increase the amounts of means tested benefit
- They are payable to children as well as adults.
- They can be paid to people regardless of their ability to work
or even if they are in full time work.
- DLA can act to "passport" people through the Personal
Capability Assessment (for Incapacity Benefit and Income
- DLA can be retained by students and enable them to qualify for
The total effect of a successful DLA claim could mean an
increase in income of around £140 per week.
What are DLA and AA?
Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance are both
extra non-means tested benefits payable on top of any other
benefits in recognition of the extra costs of disability. Which one
you claim depends on your age when you first claim. If you are
under 65 you claim DLA and you can continue to receive it after
your 65th birthday. If you are over 65 when you first claim then
you claim Attendance Allowance.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is one benefit, but made up of
two components - Care Component and Mobility Component. You may
qualify for either or both components. BEWARE - a lot of people
only apply for Mobility (as they see walking outdoors as the main
limitation in their lives) when they probably have care needs as
Attendance Allowance (AA) is for claims first made after your
65th birthday. The conditions for AA are a restricted version of
those for DLA Care - no lowest rate and a longer qualifying time.
In addition, there is no help for Mobility needs that begin after
the age of 65. However if your mobility problems result from war or
military service you may be able to claim War Disablement Mobility
Supplement instead (there is no age restriction).
- DLA - Claimed by people under 65Difficulties must have lasted
for the previous 3 and next 6 months. Two 'components' - care and
mobility. Three rates of care and two of mobility.
- AA - Claimed by people of 65 and over. Difficulties must have
lasted for the previous 6 and next 6 months. Only care needs
addressed. Only two rates.
Rates of DLA/AA
Paid at one of three rates (for DLA Care) or two rates (for AA)
to people who have difficulties with personal care tasks or who
need supervision, as a result of a physical or mental condition. It
is not relevant whether help is actually provided, nor is it
necessary to have a carer to qualify.
||Day AND Night attention and/or supervision conditions OR
||Day OR Night attention and/or supervision OR
Attention for part of the Day OR
Cannot cook amain daily meal
DLA Mobility Component
Paid at one of two rates. The Higher Rate applies to those with
severe restrictions on their walking ability out of doors while the
Lower Rate applies to those who can walk, but need someone to
supervise or guide them in unfamiliar surroundings:
Unable or virtually unable to walk outdoors OR
deaf and blind OR walking would be dangerous to health OR
behavioural condition OR
||Can walk but need guidance, supervision and/or
re-assurance in unfamiliar surroundings
Who can claim DLA / AA?
Help with care needs - DLA Care Component is payable to anyone
who meets the conditions before their 65th birthday. Claims can be
made for children from birth.
The award is for long term difficulties - you must have met one
of the attention or supervision conditions for a qualifying period
of at least 3 months and be expected to continue meeting them for
at least another 6 months.
Attendance Allowance - is payable to anyone who meets the
conditions after their 65th birthday. The qualifying period is 6
months instead of 3. Awards can be made for life or a limited
Terminally ill - claimants will meet the conditions
automatically under Special Rules (see below) without having to
wait for the end of a qualifying period. If your disability arises
from war service or an industrial injury or disease, you may get
more benefit by claiming an equivalent benefit to AA and DLA Care
under the industrial and war disability schemes. That equivalent is
called Constant Attendance Allowance.
Help with mobility needs
DLA Mobility Component - is payable to anyone who meets the
conditions and claims before their 65th birthday. Claims for
children can be made from the age of 3 years for the Higher Rate
and 5 for the Lower Rate. If you are over 65 when you start having
walking problems you cannot claim DLA Mobility, although your
walking difficulties indoors will help towards Attendance
Allowance. However, if your mobility needs derive from war service,
you can apply for War Disablement Benefit (Mobility Supplement) at
Awards are for a limited period or for life. Although people
cannot claim mobility component for the first time after the age of
65, they can continue to receive an existing award for the rest of
Residence in the UK - You must be resident in Great Britain and
have been so for at least 26 weeks out of the last 12 months.
How to claim DLA & Attendance Allowance
Claim forms are available by sending in a tear off slip on a DLA
leaflet (DS704) or by phone on 0845 7123456 The form should arrive
with two dates stamped on the front cover: the date the form was
asked for and a date 6 weeks later. As long as you return the form
within the 6 weeks, any award will start from the day the form was
first requested. If the form goes in later, then benefit will only
be paid from the day the form is returned.
The DLA form is in two parts:
- Section One is the formal claim. It asks for things like your
name, address, doctor(s), list of disabling conditions and
medication, how you want the money paid and how someone can claim
on your behalf etc.
- Section Two is the one that takes the time. It is your
statement of your Care and Mobility needs. The Care Section goes
through the day and night with suggested areas of difficulty. There
is limited space for supervision needs. There are questions about
any limitations on your going out, hobbies that you have had to
give up and repeats the questions about any non-physical help you
need (e.g. guidance, prompting and encouragement).
Passporting through to DLA & AA
Special Rules for life threatening conditions
Special Rules apply to DLA or AA claims made by or on behalf of,
people who face life-threatening conditions. To apply under Special
Rules you must:
- be diagnosed as suffering from a progressive disease AND
- your death could reasonably be expected within 6 months as a
result of that disease.
This does not mean that you have a definite prognosis of under 6
months to live - in fact the doctor is not asked to give any life
expectancy on the form. The question is whether the chances are
that you might. You may live several years, but your illness could
take a sudden downturn causing your death within 6 months. Special
Rules awards are not withdrawn after 6 months, although they may be
reviewed after a while. The question would still then be "Could the
claimant reasonably be expected to die in the next 6 months?".
You do not have to wait for the 3 or 6 month qualifying period
to be completed and your claim should be processed within 10 days.
Special Rules claims can be made on behalf of someone else, without
them needing to know the prognosis. Special rules claims are always
paid automatically at the highest rate of AA or DLA Care, even if
you do not have any care needs at the time of the claim. Mobility
Component is not automatic under Special Rules - you will need to
fill in the Mobility pages of Section 2 but the claim will be
processed speedily and without any need for a 3-month qualifying
A claim under Special Rules is made by completing Section One of
a DLA or AA claim pack only (unless you also have Mobility needs
which you then list on pages 3 and 4 of Section 2) AND by
submitting a DS 1500 certificate signed by a doctor. This lists
diagnosis and treatment, but does not include any prognosis.
DLA Care and AA for Renal Dialysis
Anyone who undergoes renal dialysis on a kidney machine for two
or more sessions per week and requires attention or supervision
from another person during the course of the treatment
automatically satisfies the day time supervision condition for the
Middle Rate of DLA Care/ Lower Rate of AA, provided that the
dialysis takes place at home or as a hospital out patient without
assistance or supervision from the staff of the hospital. In
practice this does not happen very often, dialysis usually takes
place in hospital with the assistance of staff, so claimants are
rarely "passported" under this provision. People under going kidney
dialysis are likely to have care needs and can be awarded middle
care in the usual way - seek advice.
The effect on other benefits
An award of DLA or AA can have various knock on effects on other
benefits, by passporting you or a carer through some of the tests
for other benefits or giving entitlement to extra Premiums on your
Applicable Amount for Income Support, Income-based JSA, Housing
& Council Tax benefits also the disability elements for Child
Tax Credits. The effects are summarised in the table below.
(Higher Rate - Lower Rate plus)
- Disability Premium
- Child Tax Credit - disability
- Christmas Bonus
- Child Care Disregard
- Home Energy Efficiency Scheme Grant
- Working Tax Credit - disability test
- Orange Badge Scheme
- Motability Scheme
- Exemption from Road Tax
- Disability Premium
- Child Tax Credit - Disability Element
- Christmas Bonus
- No non-dependent deductions
- Home energy efficiency scheme
- CA - Carer's test
- Severe Disability Premium
- IS - carers exempt from signing on
- Tax advantages for some trusts
- Home Responsibilities Protection
- Exemption from "All Work Test
- "Independent Living Fund
- DLA Mobility - qualifying condition for severe mental
impairment route to Higher Rate
- Enhanced Disability Premium
- Child Tax Credit- severe disability
Claiming other benefits with your AA/DLA claim
AA and DLA claims can take a while to sort out - up to 6 weeks
to fill the form in, another 6 weeks to get a decision, even longer
if you need a revision and a further three months or so if you have
to appeal. Although an eventual favourable decision on your DLA/AA
claim will be backdated to your date of claim, you could lose out
on benefits which depend on you receiving AA/DLA - such as Carer's
Allowance and Income Support. A special rule means that if you
claim CA or Income Support at the same time as your AA/DLA, then
although your claim might be refused initially, that decision could
be revised once AA or DLA came through, and payments could be made
back to the start of the claim. This is not a problem if you
already get some Income Support. Once you get your AA/DLA award
resolved you can have your existing Income Support/JSA award
revised. Another special rule means that in this situation the
normal 1 month backdating limit on a revision does not apply, so
that you can get your extra Income Support/JSA back to the date of
How long does a claim last?
Awards can be made for an indefinite period, unless there are
grounds to think that the condition may get better in a shorter
period. For children, the longest award is usually made up until
the age of 16.The shortest possible award is 6 months. If your
condition deteriorates to the point where you feel that you should
be on a higher rate or it has become clear that you will have those
needs for a longer period (or life) then both the rate of the award
and the time for which it is awarded can be superseded - but beware
there is a risk to your current award - see under AA and DLA
Reviews and Appeals.
Living away from home?
|DLA Mobility Component
||DLA Care Component
- withdrawn after 28 days in hospitalDLA mobility is not affected
by stays in residential care.
- Hospitals: withdrawn after 28 days for adults, 84 days for
- Accommodation provided out of public funds: withdrawn after 28
"Linked" periods in care
The time period is for 28 continuous days. If someone comes out
of care, before the 28 days are up, then the clock stops ticking
and the DLA Care is unaffected. If they go back into hospital or
care within 28 days of coming out, the clock starts ticking again
- Jim is in hospital for 16 days. He comes out but has to go back
20 days later. The two periods in hospital will be linked - so the
"clock" restarts at 16 days on his return to hospital. He will lose
his DLA after 12 days in hospital - i.e. after a total linked
period of 28 days.
It is important to break the link when people are regularly in
and out of care (e.g. respite care):
- Geraint spends one week in 4 in respite care. The periods are
linked. After his fourth period of respite care he will have spent
28 linked days in care so DLA will stop during future weeks in
- Jackie also spends one week in four in respite care, but every
fourth time in respite care she has a gap of 29 days between stays.
This breaks the link, so Jackie continues to get DLA during weeks
Accommodation provided out of "public funds"
This includes: Local Authority Residential Care Homes and
Private Residential or Nursing Homes where Social Services is
contributing to the cost. It does not include: Foster Care nor
Private Care Homes where the claimant is self-funding (whether from
private income or benefits).
AA & The Care Component
What are the conditions for DLA Care/Attendance Allowance?
DLA Care is paid at one of three rates - and AA at one of two -
depending on the level of supervision or attention you reasonably
require. To qualify for AA or DLA Care (middle or Highest Rates)
you must be:
'so severely disabled mentally or physically that you require
from another person either …'By day:
- 'Frequent attention throughout the day in connection with your
bodily functions', AND/OR
- 'Continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid
substantial danger to yourself or others'.AND/OR
- 'Prolonged or repeated attention in connection with bodily
- 'Another person to be awake for a prolonged period or at
frequent intervals for the purpose of watching over you to avoid
substantial danger to yourself or others'.
If you meet either a day or a night condition, you will get DLA
Care (Middle Rate) or AA (Lower Rate). If you meet both a day and a
night condition you will get the DLA Care Highest Rate or AA Higher
For DLA Care Lowest Rate
There are separate conditions for DLA Care (Lowest) Rate. You
Be so severely disabled physically or mentally that you
- "require attention for a significant portion of the day whether
during a single period or a number of periods" OR
- "are unable to prepare a cooked main meal for himself if s/he
has the ingredients".
Note: There is no Lowest Rate version of the supervision
condition. The conditions are explained in more detail in the rest
of this chapter. Claimants demonstrate their needs by completing
Section 2 of the DLA/AA Claim form. Some claimants, however, are
"passported" through (below).
Extra conditions for Children
- Children can qualify for DLA Care from birth, although the
qualifying period means that they will not be paid until they are
three months old unless it is a claim under the Special Rules.
- In addition to meeting the conditions for the Care Component,
children under 16 must also show that their attention/supervision
needs are substantially in excess of the normal needs of a child of
- Children under 16 cannot qualify under the 'Cooking Test'
Children can also affect the care needs of their parents - e.g.
Someone who can't lift a baby or get out of a chair quick enough to
prevent danger to a child needs attention and/or supervision to
attend to and supervise their child.
What do these conditions mean?
"So severely disabled... that ...." - DLA and AA are sometimes
wrongly referred to as "benefits for the severely disabled",
because of this wording. However there is no separate test of
severe disability - the phrase merely means that you are
sufficiently disabled as to "require" (see below) help from another
person. Disability includes any long-term physical or mental health
Intermittent disability - You may not have the same level of
care needs all the time. If you have only limited needs for long
spells in between short spells of greater needs, then you are
unlikely to qualify. However, you could qualify if you have good
and bad spells during the same week or so.
When is it "Day" and when is it "Night"? - Night time begins
when "the household closes down" - e.g. when the carer, not the
disabled person, goes to bed. If the carer is kept awake beyond
their normal bedtime by the needs of the person they look after,
then that should count towards night- time. In the case of a child,
any assistance required after the child has gone to bed, but before
the carer goes to bed will contribute towards the Daytime not the
Night-time qualifying criteria.
"That you require from another person" - House of Lords
judgement ruled that "require" covers "any help that a disabled
person reasonably needs to live as normal a life as possible" i.e.
people with disabilities have a right to a life not just an
existence. In the past the Department have argued that help has to
be medically required or to be for essential tasks to count, but
this has been ruled unreasonable. For example, it might not be
medically necessary to change a child's wet bedding, but it is
reasonably necessary. Help needed with communicating need not be
confined to essential business but includes help to participate in
social activity. However, it is reasonable for the DWP to suggest
ways in which the requirement for help can be reduced, but only
where these suggestions are reasonably consistent with a normal
lifestyle. For example, staying in a chair all day to avoid falls
or staying in night clothes all day to avoid the need to get
dressed are not reasonable. The effect on others in the household
is also relevant - locking away foodstuffs dangerous to one child
was not reasonable when other children might expect reasonable
access to that food. If special equipment - e.g. a commode - is
suggested then it is relevant as to whether that equipment is
available to a normal household on a low income and whether any
help would be needed to use the equipment - e.g. to empty it.
Finally, you don't have to be getting any help to have a reasonable
requirement for it. You might struggle on alone, eventually
managing to do a task, with pain, difficulty or slowness or you may
cope by restricting your life to avoid as many difficulties as
possible - but you still have a reasonable requirement for help.
However any help that is actually provided is strong evidence that
it is required.
Attention or supervision?
"Attention" involves some service of an active nature while
"Supervision" is merely watching over in case of danger and "may
be" precautionary and anticipatory' yet never result in
For example, someone keeping an eye on you when walking because
you are likely to fall is supervision, but if they offer a
steadying hand that is attention. It is possible to be both
supervising and attending at the same time. Most claimants will
have a mixture of attention and supervision needs, although some
will need far more of one than another.
The distinction can be important as:
- attention doesn't have to be needed for as much of the time as
supervision to qualify.
- attention doesn't have to prevent any risk of substantial
danger - unlike supervision. For a long time it was thought that
attention had to be physical help - which meant a lot of people
with sight problems or mental health problems were thrown onto the
tougher supervision conditions. However, recent rulings (see below)
have extended the scope of attention.
- is some active service involving personal contact with the
disabled person carried out in their presence.
- has to be in connection with a person's bodily functions.
"in connection with bodily functions" - This is an archaic way
of saying that attention has to be to do with personal care task -
i.e. assistance with anything to do with your body and its workings
- as opposed to domestic tasks like doing the washing, cleaning the
"Bodily functions" includes things like:
- Using stairs
- Managing incontinence
- Getting in/out of bed
- Sitting & rising
- Turning in bed
- Brushing hair
- Walking indoors
- Getting to/using toilet
- Taking medication
Help with shopping, cooking and housework (or as Lord Denning
put it "other work that a wife or daughter normally carries out as
part of her domestic duties" - sic!) does not count.
Extending the scope of attention
In the past, it was widely accepted that attention had to
involve physical contact and had to be closely connected with a
bodily function. This view has been changed by two major House of
Lords judgements. The Mallinson case in April 1994 concerned a
blind man. The main effects of this judgement are:
- The fact that a disability is so severe that a function cannot
be exercised, does not prevent attention being received in
connection with that function, if it provides a substitute method
of providing that function. So help with reading and writing (which
do not of themselves count as bodily functions) do count as help
with the function of seeing.
- Contact need not be physical contact, it can be established by
the spoken word - e.g. encouraging someone to get up, telling them
their clothing doesn't match or suit the weather conditions.
The Halliday/Fairey case in April 1997 concerned a deaf person.
The House of Lords has ruled that:
- Attention which enables someone to engage in a reasonable level
of social activity (and that could include many daytime activities)
- Bodily functions did not just include help that was essential
to living as opposed to merely desirable. Attention can include
"any help that enables a person to as far as possible lead a normal
These two decisions don't just affect those with a sensory
impairment, but open up possibilities for people with mental health
problems or learning difficulties who might manage physically to
complete care tasks, but need encouragement or guidance to complete
them successfully or regularly, or to socialise with others.
"Continual supervision by day or prolonged/repeated watching
over by night to avoid substantial danger" The supervision
condition was broken down into four parts by a Commissioner's
decision called R(A)1/83:
- There has to be a substantial danger as a result of the
claimant's medical condition. Substantial means considerable or big
- i.e. the danger would have a substantial effect on you - e.g.
asthmatic/epileptic attacks, lack of awareness of common dangers in
Alzheimer's, mental health problems or learning disabilities.
- It must be reasonable to guard against the danger - i.e. the
likelihood of the risk and the consequences if it happens. The more
likely the risk, the less severe its consequences have to be. The
risk may only have to be one off if the likely consequences are
severe - e.g. a child running into the road, someone who is
tetraplegic caught in a house fire or someone falling and hitting
their head against a radiator.
- The supervision must be reasonably required. It does not need
to be medically required. If supervision is provided this should be
taken as strong evidence that it is reasonably required. However as
with attention, the supervision may still be needed even if it is
not currently provided.
- The supervision must be continual. This is something less than
continuous or non stop, but more than occasional or spasmodic -
e.g. the kind of supervision provided by a project worker in a
small hostel for people with mental health problems. The
supervision must be required at regular intervals throughout the
Someone can be supervising you while getting on with something
else. They could be in a nearby house, if some sort of alarm system
is installed - as long as they can get to you quickly should an
emergency arise. It is even possible to supervise someone while
asleep, which is why the night time condition specifically says
watching over - i.e. having to be awake. Any active help needed -
e.g. soothing back to sleep, encouraging someone to eat/wash
properly - should be counted under the easier attention
Expressing likely supervision needs
Supervision needs are often less easy to quantify. Demonstrate
that the condition could give rise to substantial danger and
include any previous occurrences - e.g. falls, wandering at night
etc. Show why someone else has to be there and why simpler ways of
avoiding risk won't work - e.g. inability to self-administer a
nebuliser/oxygen during an attack. Likely areas of supervision need
- Monitoring condition/medication.
- Avoiding self neglect: ensuring a reasonable diet and personal
- Finances: Help with handling money, ensuring utilities are not
disconnected, food is available all week.
- Falls: Moving obstacles, being on hand if someone falls.
- Emergencies: Supervision against medical or physical
emergencies resulting from the disability (e.g. asthmatic/epileptic
attacks) or a danger from behavioural problems or confusion or
physical inability to escape - e.g. in a fire.
- Inability to care for others: A parent may need help to help
them safeguard and attend to their child.
The Claim form does not give a lot of space for supervision, so
add sheets if necessary. Explain:
- When and why supervision is needed.
- The likely consequences of lack of supervision (e.g.
deterioration, the danger to self/others, aggression, violence,
theft, prison, loss of services water, gas, electric etc.).
- How supervision has a positive effect (e.g. helps keep someone
in the Community, decreases hospital admissions, helps someone deal
with crises etc. and hence avoid danger).
Special cases of supervision needs
There is a separate 4 part test for falls suggested in R(A)3/89,
but this is only a guideline:
- Are the situations when someone falls predictable?
- If they are can the claimant reasonably be expected to avoid
the risk of falling or to put themselves at risk only when
supervised? NB staying in a chair all day is not reasonable.
- If the falling is unpredictable, or cannot be reasonably
avoided, will a fall give rise to substantial danger? Someone may
be unable to save themselves in a fall or may not be able to summon
help. They may have other conditions (e.g. heart, asthma) that may
be worsened by the shock of a fall.
- Is the substantial danger too remote? Evidence of actual
occurrences or general stumbling is important.
The Department argued that someone's blackouts were so
unpredictable as to stop anyone else intervening. But if the
presence of another person is sufficient as to reduce the amount of
danger (e.g. by catching someone on the stairs) then that may be
Mental health claims were previously largely on the grounds of
supervision. However, since Mallinson & Halliday, it is now
possible to count a lot more of the support as attention. It has
been ruled that:
- Someone does not need to have been admitted to hospital to be a
danger to themselves or others.
- Support, comfort and re-assurance to potential suicides counts
as supervision. There may be as much danger in a suicide bid that
was clearly not intended to succeed as one that was.
Some claimants liable to fits / attacks without warning may need
continual supervision, even though attention between the fits is
not required. Even where there is a warning of a fit, a person may
need continual supervision to help them if they suffer confusion
after a fit. An epileptic parent may need supervision so that
someone else can look after the child in the event of an attack -
Epilepsy and asthma can be a very difficult area. Fits may lead
to other needs - e.g. incontinence through fits or be related to
other disabling conditions. Think beyond the danger of fits to
other limitations that may be imposed on daily activities through
fatigue, breathlessness and confusion.
The DLA Mobility Component
What is DLA Mobility Component?
DLA Mobility Component is extra help for people who have
difficulty getting around out of doors. It is paid at one of two
rates, which are based on very different conditions, rather than a
reflection of different degrees of help needed - as is the case
with DLA Care/AA.
Problems walking around indoors, whether in your own home or in
other people's homes, during social activities, count towards DLA
Care or Attendance Allowance. You must have had the mobility
problems for at least 3 months and be expecting to have them for at
least a further 6 months in order to qualify - so you can't usually
claim if you have a broken leg. Awards of DLA Mobility can be made
for a limited period or for an indefinite one.
Upper Age Limit - A new claim for DLA Mobility can only be made
up until your 65th birthday. This rules out a lot of people whose
mobility problems only begin in later life. However, if you are
awarded DLA Mobility before the age of 65, you can continue to
receive it for life - but you won't be able to ask for a
reconsideration (i.e. to change from lower rate to higher rate)
after the age of 65.
DLA Mobility and children - Children can be paid the Higher Rate
from their 3rd birthday, the Lower from their 5th. There are no
special extra conditions for under 16s for the Higher Rate - cases
are decided on the same criteria as for adults. However, for Lower
Rate, children must show considerably greater need for supervision
or guidance than other children of their age.
DLA Mobility and "Special Rules" - While AA & DLA Care are
automatically awarded at Higher Rate for those claiming under
"Special Rules" for life threatening conditions, there is no
automatic qualification for Mobility Component in these cases. You
would still need to show that you meet the normal mobility
conditions and complete the mobility parts of section 2 of the
claim form. However your mobility claim will be dealt with within
10 days rather than the usual 3 months and the criteria may be
applied more generously.
What are the conditions?
- You must be "suffering from a physical disablement" and your
"physical condition as a whole" must be such that
- You are unable to walk, OR
- You are virtually unable to walk, OR
- The exertion required to walk would constitute a danger to
life, or would be likely to lead to a serious deterioration in
- You have no legs or feet (from birth or through
- You must be BOTH 80% deaf AND 100% blind.
- You must be severely mentally impaired AND have severe
behavioural problems AND be in receipt of DLA Care - Highest
- You are able to walk, but are so severely disabled mentally or
physically that you are unable to use your ability to walk without
supervision from another person.
What do these conditions mean?
For both Higher and Lower Rate
Benefit from enhanced locomotion - In each case, you must be
able to benefit from "enhanced facilities for locomotion" i.e.
trips out. In effect, this last condition only excludes people who
are in a coma and/or those who cannot be moved for medical
"Out of doors", "Regardless of personal circumstances"
The first three tests are taken regardless of your personal
circumstances - e.g. living on top of a hill, no bus route
available, distance from shops, employment etc. However "out of
doors" does include uneven surfaces, and coping with obstacles and
some degree of incline. Walking ability is also considered using
any walking aids.
For Higher Rate only
Physical cause - The first four conditions relate to your
physical ability to walk by putting one foot in front of the other.
The source of your walking limitation must be physical or organic -
e.g. your legs don't work, severe back pain on walking, risk to
health. These are usually directly related to ability to walk,
although it could include:
- interruptions resulting from diagnosable brain damage if these
are such as to make someone virtually unable to walk.
- a physical disability which prevents the co-ordination of mind
and body. However behavioural problems alone will not qualify
unless they fit into the narrow criteria of the severe mental
The remaining three conditions relate to people who are
physically able to move their legs, but are unable to use their
ability without the assistance of someone else. So you might have
no problems with your legs but qualify for the higher rate through
being blind and deaf or through severe behavioural problems or
qualify for the lower rate.
The Conditions in More Detail
The Higher Rate conditions
- Unable to walk
This means exactly what it says you have no ability to walk at all.
"Walking" means putting one leg in front of the other - so if you
have one leg and can get around quite well on crutches you are not
actually walking so you would qualify.
- Virtually unable to walk
This means that your ability to walk must be so limited as
"the distance over which and/or the speed at which and/or the
length of time for which and/or the manner in which you can make
progress on foot without severe discomfort,"
that you can be said to be virtually unable to walk.
Distance is not defined - claims have been refused at 50 yards
and allowed at 300 yards! A recent ruling suggests that the
condition should apply to anyone who can't walk 50 or 60 yards
without severe discomfort and should not apply to those who can
manage over 90 yards without severe discomfort unless they have
other difficulties with speed, balance, gait etc.
Severe discomfort is something less than actual pain, and
includes breathlessness, dizziness, vertigo, muscle spasms, fatigue
etc. Any distance that can only be walked in severe discomfort
should be ignored.
- The exertion required to walk
This condition applies to people for whom walking can be dangerous
e.g. those with heart, chest or lung problems or haemophilia. Here
the question is not so much the distance you can walk, but the risk
to life or health from the exertion of walking. Any deterioration
in your health brought on by the effort of walking need not be
permanent (or even last 6 months), nor does it have to be
- A double amputee
This is someone who has no legs or no feet, or whose legs have been
amputated at or above the ankle. They will automatically satisfy
the virtually unable to walk test. The ability to walk using
artificial prostheses is irrelevant.
- Deaf and blind
You must have both visual and hearing impairment. Blindness is
assessed as 100% - i.e. less than 6/60 using both eyes and any
glasses and deafness at 80% - where absolute deafness is 100%.
- Severe mental impairment
You must fulfil all three criteria. You must:
- have arrested or incomplete development of brain which includes
severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning, AND
- have behavioural problems causing extreme unpredictable and
disruptive behaviour requiring another person to be present
whenever they are awake to guard against damage to people and
- be getting the highest rate of the DLA Care Component.
The Lower Rate condition
Guidance and supervision
The lower rate is payable to people who are able to walk, but
who because of a physical or mental health problem, need someone
with them in unfamiliar surroundings to supervise or guide them and
keep them safe. A Commissioners decision - CDLA/42/94 - ruled:
- Guidance or supervision must be considered within the context
of enabling the claimant to take advantage of the faculty of
walking, not the avoidance of danger to self or others - i.e. not
as hard a test as DLA Care (supervision).
- Guidance means direction or leading, whether physically or by
- Supervision means accompanying the claimant and at least
monitoring them for the need to intervene to prevent their ability
to walk from being compromised. No need for this ever to have
resulted in action so far.
- If a claimant gets re-assurance from the presence of another
person, this may amount to supervision of their mental state.
Children under 16 have to satisfy an additional disability test.
They must show that they require 'substantially more guidance or
supervision from another person than persons of their age in normal
physical and mental health would require'.
Last Updated: 26.06.2009 at 10:34