Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit that many people with MS claim because it can be awarded if you have mobility problems, difficulties with personal care or if you require supervision from another person.
DLA is not means-tested, it is tax free and available to people who claim before the age of 65. It is not based on N.I. contributions and it can be paid on top of other social security benefits. You can receive DLA even if you are working and receiving wages.
If you are awarded DLA and have a carer, the carer may be able to claim Invalid Care Allowance for looking after you. DLA is awarded on the basis of the effect that MS symptoms have on your daily life. You must have had problems for at least 3 months before the benefit can be awarded and your problems must be expected to last for at least another six months. This may not always be the case with relapsing remitting MS.
DLA is divided into two different components: the mobility component and the care component. You can be awarded one or the other or both together.
The mobility component (paid at two rates) is usually for someone who cannot walk out of doors without guidance or supervision from another person most of the times, or if someone is unable to walk or virtually unable to walk outdoors due to their symptoms.
The care component (paid at three rates) for people who have personal care needs related to your MS. Physical as well as psychological/mental problems should be taken into account. The care component may be awarded if you have problems doing things like getting out of bed or out of a chair, getting washed and dressed, cooking, taking medications, walking up and down the stairs, using the toilet, etc or if you need supervision to make sure you are safe. The rate awarded will depend on the extent and frequency of your problems.
When filling in a claim pack for DLA it is important not to underestimate your needs and the difficulties you may have. You may find it useful to keep a diary of your needs and mobility problems especially if these fluctuate over time. You need to explain the problems you have in a lot of detail. The person deciding on your claim may not know much about MS and you need to be very specific about how MS affects you individually. If your claim for DLA is refused, it is possible to challenge the decision by requesting a revision or an appeal.
Disability Alliance Advice Line 020 7247 8763
DLA - are you missing out?
Steve Donnison and Holiday Whitehead explain that you don't have to be disabled to claim for Disabled Living Allowance. The article linked below appeared in the July-August 2002 issue of MS Matters.
You can also download a free guide to claiming DLA from the Barton Hill Advice Service website - http://www.bhas.org.uk/