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 benefit.
  • They are not counted as income in the calculation of means tested benefits.
  • They are non-means tested and are not taxable.
  • They can increase the amounts of means tested benefit payable.
  • 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 Support).
  • DLA can be retained by students and enable them to qualify for Income Support.

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 well.

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.

DLA Care AA Conditions
Highest Higher Day AND Night attention and/or supervision conditions OR
Special Rules
Middle Lower Day OR Night attention and/or supervision OR
Renal Dialysis
Lowest N/A

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:

DLA Mobility Conditions
Higher

Unable or virtually unable to walk outdoors OR
deaf and blind OR walking would be dangerous to health OR
behavioural condition OR
double amputee

Lower 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 period.

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 any age.

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 their life.

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 period.

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.

DLA Mobility
(Lower Rate)
DLA Mobility
(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
DLA
Care Lowest
DLA Middle
Care/Lower AA
DLA Highest
Care/Higher AA
  • 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 claim.

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 children
  • Accommodation provided out of public funds: withdrawn after 28 days.

"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 e.g.:

  • 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 care.
  • 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 in care.

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

By night:

  • 'Prolonged or repeated attention in connection with bodily functions', AND/OR
  • '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 Rate.

For DLA Care Lowest Rate

There are separate conditions for DLA Care (Lowest) Rate. You must:

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 that age.
  • Children under 16 cannot qualify under the 'Cooking Test' condition.

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 problem.

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 intervention".

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.

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 house.

"Bodily functions" includes things like:

  • Breathing
  • Communicating
  • Washing/bathing
  • Eating
  • Using stairs
  • Managing incontinence
  • Hearing
  • Getting in/out of bed
  • Shaving
  • Drinking
  • Sitting & rising
  • Turning in bed
  • Seeing
  • Dressing/undressing
  • 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) can count.
  • 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 life".

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.

Supervision

"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 day.

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 condition.

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 include:

  • Monitoring condition/medication.
  • Avoiding self neglect: ensuring a reasonable diet and personal hygiene.
  • 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

Falls

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.

Blackouts

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 sufficient.

Mental health

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.

Epilepsy

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 - R(A)5/81.

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.

Age limits

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?

Higher Rate

Physical problems:

  • 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 health, OR
  • You have no legs or feet (from birth or through amputation).

Sensory problems

  • You must be BOTH 80% deaf AND 100% blind.

Behavioural problems

  • You must be severely mentally impaired AND have severe behavioural problems AND be in receipt of DLA Care - Highest Rate.

Lower Rate

  • 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 reasons.

"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 impairment route.

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

  1. 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.
  2. Virtually unable to walk
    This means that your ability to walk must be so limited as regards:

    "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.

  3. 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 immediate.
  4. 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.
  5. 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%.
  6. 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 property, 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 verbal contact.
  • 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'.

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Last Updated: 26.06.2009 at 10:34

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