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Danni's rules on claiming DLA

Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:12 pm

I've noticed in my travels across the internet that many people try and claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their disabilities or long term illness, but their application gets refused despite having a genuine entitlement. I'm very lucky in that the three times I've applied for DLA I've received my full entitlement without appeals (higher care, lower mobility). My rules can't stop your application being refused, but they can make it a little less likely, and may also help if you need to get a reconsideration or appeal.

Before I start, a quick explaination on what the different levels and components of DLA mean.

The care component is for your care needs, basically how you need help or supervision to live your life.

Lower care is for people who just need a small amount of care or help during the day, or need help to prepare and cook a main meal if you're over 16 (this means a meat and two veg type meal, not sticking something in the microwave). That means you can claim this if you need help with chopping vegetables or forget you're cooking and burn your food, or can't tell if your food is cooked, or can't get everything organised to be cooked at the same time. This assumes you already have the ingredients.

Medium care is for people who need care or supervision frequently during the day, or at night. If you're under 16 this means you need more than other children your age.

Higher care is for people who need care or supervision frequently during the day and during the night. I get this as I need a lot of help both day and night.

The mobility component is for people who need supervision or care when out and about, or who can't walk.

Lower mobility (which I get) is for people who can walk okay, but need someone to be with you in case you get lost (more than most people), get anxious or have panic attacks, walk into the road, have no awareness of danger, and things like that.

Higher mobility is for people who either can't walk at all, or can only walk a very very short distance without pain. Basically, it's for wheelchair users or those who can only manage very short distances with walking sticks or a walker.

So, these are my rules:

1) Do not fill in the forms yourself. I was incredibly lucky in that even though I filled in the forms myself the first two times I got my award, but I had help and a booklet telling me how to fill them in (from my local mental health charity). Get someone who knows what they're doing to fill them in- a charity for your disability/illness, an experienced social worker (who knows you), or the Citizen's Advice Bureau. If you want to have a go at the forms yourself, write your answers on a piece of paper, and have someone check your answers who has experience to make sure you haven't missed anything (this could help save time, so it's worth doing if you're confident, following my other rules).

2) Remember, it's not about your disability as such, but how much help/care you need. It is possible to get DLA without a diagnosis (though it helps) as all they're interested in is how much help you need, for how long, and when. In my case, my diagnoses (Asperger's Syndrome and agoraphobia) don't sound too bad, but once I got into the details it shows I need help during the day, at night, and when I go out (I really need someone around 24 hours a day, though at the moment I don't get it). You don't have to be receiving the help, just to need it. You can get DLA if you live alone, are working or studying, so long as you need someone to help you live. Unfortunately, shopping doesn't count (unless it's a leisure activity- crazy I know).

3) Answer each question as if it's your worst day, then explain how it fluctuates. Try not to say you have good days, but that you have better days. For example: On my worst days I cannot get out of bed at all without encouragement. On better days it may take me about half an hour. At the bottom of each question it asks how often a problem affects you. Be honest, but don't underestimate. Most people with disabilities/long term illness have developed coping strategies, but the person reading the form won't know this so explain what it's like.

4) Answer each question as fully as you can. First say what you have difficulty with, why you have this difficulty, and how having someone help you can help. The last bit is important as that's what they're basing the DLA on. You will probably have to repeat yourself several times, but it's hard to give too much information, yet it can be very detrimental to your claim not to give enough information.

5) Get as much supporting information as you can. Reports or supporting letters from any doctors, social workers, occupational therapists who are involved in your care all help. The more information they have, the easier it is to make a decision.

6) If you can, get the statement from someone who knows you filled in by a professional involved in your care. This could be your consultant, social worker, OT, or even GP. For some reason, it seems to carry a lot more weight if filled in by a professional than by a friend, partner or carer, even if they do know more about your day-to-day needs.

7) Let your consultant/OT/social worker and GP know that you're claiming DLA, and the reasons why. If you have no care from a consultant, social worker or any medical professionals, it is especially important to let your GP know, as they'll probably be asked to write a letter about your needs. If you're anything like me, your GP may not know the full extent of your needs, so make an appointment to make sure they know, and to tell them you're claiming DLA. After all, if you say you need help with cooking, how is your GP going to know this to support your claim unless you tell them?

8) Try to mention everything, even if it's embarrassing or upsetting. Yes, filling in a DLA claim form is difficult, and in many ways upsetting as you are concentrating on what you can't do, rather than what you can. Try not to underestimate your difficulties though, even if you have found ways around them. On my last DLA claim form, it was mentioned that I need someone to be awake for me at night to stop me going and "wandering" alone at night. Despite my arguments with my social worker about this, I allowed it to be on the form as apparently most people think going for a walk in the middle of the night alone is dangerous, and that I just can't see the danger. Other things that were mentioned included how I went for a long time without bathing or cleaning my teeth, because I'd forget, and that I need someone to remind me (I now have a way of prompting myself with the bathing, but it's a workaround, and cleaning my teeth still doesn't happen very often).

9) Try not to do it all at once. It's a hard form to fill in, and because it's upsetting and long it would probably be easier to answer in a few questions at a time. You may also remember things that should be mentioned if you go away for a while. Try and get the form back within the time limits though or you may lose benefit.

10) Keep a copy of your completed form once you've finished. Yes, it's a lot to photocopy, but it's worth it as even if you've done everything right they may refuse it, and it's easier to appeal against a decision if you know what you've written. You can also refer to it when you reapply, making it easier next time.

11) Once it's done, try not to worry about it. This is a hard one, but it can take several weeks for them to decide (they may be contacting GPs and Doctors and people) though you should get a letter quite soon afterwards to say they've received your form.

12) If they refuse, appeal. For some reason, even claims that meet the qualifying criteria several times over are refused, but the majority of appeals are successful, especially the face to face ones. Written appeals tend to be less successful. If you have an expectation that they'll refuse first time and that you'll have to appeal, this won't come as such a shock.

Okay, I think that's it, but if I've got anything wrong, missed anything out or something is very confusing, let me know. This is being cross posted on my blog at and Dyspraxic Teens, so I'll keep an eye on both places. If it's helpful, also let me know :)


Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:42 pm

Fantastic thread, Danni!

Can I add another thing?

If you are at school, and they need supportive evidence from a teacher- make sure they choose one who knows you well and has taught you quite a bit. 4 years ago my DLA was stopped and then lowered because my old senco 'guessed' that I did not have problems at home.


Great stuff!

Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:12 pm

Vicky should read your long post!

Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:43 pm

I wrote this when I found out about Vicky's refusal. I also have a pretty good idea why it was refused (though it shouldn't have been).

Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:08 pm

Why do you think it was refused?

Sun Jul 20, 2008 12:49 pm

A lot of applications are being refused at the moment, and the form probably wasn't in DLA-speak (you have to phrase everything in a specific way or it doesn't seem to count).
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