Caring for a child or young person with a special educational need or disability can involve extra or unexpected costs. There are various sources of financial support available to help with these costs, details of which can be found in the sections below.
Visit the government's Help if you have a disabled child website for general information.
If your child or young person has a special need or a disability then they may be entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This is a tax-free benefit which can help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:
- Is under 16
- Has difficulties walking or needs more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability
The DLA rate depends on the level of help your child/young person needs. They may need an assessment to work out whether they are entitled to DLA and how much they will receive.
More detailed information, as well as the DLA claim form, can be found on the Government’s DLA webpages.
As parents/carers, you might also qualify for Carer’s Allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a child who gets the middle or highest care rate of DLA (for more information please see our ‘Carer’s Allowance’ section).
DLA can only be claimed for children/young people under the age of 16 years; those over the age of 16 must apply for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) instead (please see our section on ‘Personal Independence Payment’).
As parents/carers, you might qualify for Carer’s Allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a child/young person who gets the middle or highest care rate of DLA.
Carer’s Allowance is taxable and can affect your other benefits.
More detailed information on eligibility and the effect on other benefits, as well as a link to the online application system and paper application forms, can be found on the Government’s Carer’s Allowance webpages.
You might be entitled to additional tax credits if you care for a child/young person who is disabled. Information on tax credits can be found on the Government’s Tax Credits web pages.
Young people who have received the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and who turned 16 years of age on or after 7th October 2013, will be able to claim a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is the new financial benefit that is replacing the DLA for individuals aged 16 to 64 years.
Parents should be sent a letter before their young person turns 16 years of age. This letter will explain what will happen to the young person’s DLA, as well as how and when they will be able to claim the PIP.
An online PIP checker is also available, to find out what will happen to the DLA once a young person turns 16.
Please note: a young person’s DLA will end if they decide not to apply for PIP. An application still needs to be made even if the young person has been granted an indefinite or lifetime DLA Award. The DLA will continue to be awarded for at least 28 days after a decision has been made about the PIP claim.
Children and young people who have been awarded DLA under the rules for people who are terminally ill usually will not be affected by PIP.
Students living in England who are accessing higher education can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if they have a:-
- Long-term health condition
- Mental health condition
- Specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia.
The amount of support received through the DSA depends on individual needs rather than on income. The DSA is paid in addition to other sources of student finance, and does not have to be repaid.
The DSA can help with numerous costs, such as:-
- Specialist equipment (e.g. computer software)
- Non-medical support, such as a note-taker or a reader
- Additional travel costs incurred due to a disability
- Other costs related to a disability, such as photocopying.
Information on the application and assessment process for DSA, as well as the timescales for applications, is detailed in the Student Finance England guide.
Further details of the DSA can be found on the Government’s DSA webpages.
If you have a disabled child/young person then you may be entitled to a grant to help to pay for changes to your home. These changes could include:-
- Widening doors and installing ramps
- Improving access to rooms and facilities – for examples stair lifts or a downstairs bathroom
- Providing a heating system suitable for their needs
- Adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.
A Disabled Facilities Grant will not affect any other benefits which you receive.
Further details, including the application process, can be found on the Government’s Disabled Facilities Grant webpages.