When you have a child there’s no doubting that financially it’s a large commitment, one that you can’t really comprehend. Some people try to save up and make sure they can “afford” a child before they have their first, or subsequent children. Some things inevitably you cannot predict; how many days off sick your child will have, for example, and when both parents (or the only parent) work this can further complicate things.
There’s a lot of controversy around Child Benefit at the moment. Up until now everyone has been entitled to claim it – and I imagine a good percentage of the population has. There’s never been any (or much) question about whether we should, in effect, be paid to have children. It’s not really been seen as a “benefit” by the large majority – the way that say income support is. It’s been acceptable to claim because it’s “for the children” and you can (could) still claim it whilst working. In fact you can technically claim it still but have the money taken off you – but it protects the National Insurance Credits.
In fact, I don’t really understand people being so negative towards people on Benefits – without actually knowing the situation and what causes people to claim. They may say about how the “system” is wrong, but I’m sure people don’t want to be in this situation, and instead of “benefit bashing” them then maybe it be should petitioned for a “better system.”
So why is it that parents of children with a disability have to justify claiming disability living allowance? Or maybe I’m wrong, and there isn’t a stigma. There’s no “but you decided to have a child” so why should you have money for caring for them (those whose children need consistent supervision, so receive middle rate care, are also entitled to money for a carer, carer’s allowance). Many people will not claim for their children, and agree with the people who say it is not morally right. It is up to you to decide how much your child may suffer without this help. Can you afford not to take the help for this unexpected extra financial pressure? This benefit is also non-means-tested related – meaning you can work and claim it.
Disability Living Allowance rates vary between £21.80 and £139.75 a week, to help with the extra costs caused by a disability. From 8 April 2013, a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment started to replace DLA for disabled people aged 16 to 64. (Over 16s can still have their parents claim for them, but the DWP will want to see you and your “child” to determine whether they need you to or not).
Don’t feel bad for claiming. And in reality, if the Department of Work and Pensions decided that your child does not need extra care then they will turn your case down. And is it really morally wrong to seek help – as long as the money is actually going on the child’s needs? So I really urge you to apply. It can only benefit your child.
On speaking to a friend, I can also understand how it is unfair on parents whose children are off school/ill a lot but do not meet the DLA criteria but cannot get help. I completely agree that they should (if their children are being effected by their illness in the same or similar way to a child who is eligible for DLA but cannot claim because they don’t fit the 9 months criteria below) be able to claim “something” to help. Maybe this is something the Government could consider.
When filling out the form consider:
Days when your child is sick – how you’ve had to pay for childcare regardless of whether your child attends or not – but more often than not they don’t attend because they are ill. Or going backwards and forwards to school to check if they are okay, or pick them up early. Time off work to look after your child because they are ill, to attend meetings, medical appointments. This is over and above what ‘other’ children are – and is related to the disability (such as a heart problem, bad chest etc). How about extra medication? Fetching it from the doctors/chemist, making sure it hasn’t run out, making sure it’s given at the right times.
How trips to hospitals – especially miles and miles away, cause greater expense in fuel, parking, days off work, sorting out other child care. Never mind the emotional upset and worry it can cause. Again make sure you relate this to the disability – for example needing to travel to specialist places.
Extra equipment – from wheelchairs, to special pushchairs, down to sensory blankets, special plates, etc. Really think about things you have bought that your child could not deal without. It’s not only the equipment that you do have, it’s about the equipment that could improve their quality of life, so that it is more in line with their peers.
Clothes – if your child needs their clothes replacing (maybe they suck holes in them because they are a sensory seeker); or maybe they need specialist clothing because they cannot do buttons, zips, or need to be specially designed because they are physically disadvantaged and need special clothes designed.
Social Groups – that if you didn’t encourage them, take them, support them – then they would isolate themselves. Remember to say why this is important – for self-esteem, social development etc. That again this costs time and money. You may have to buy a uniform for them and then they may only do it for a short time. I appreciate, again, that this can happen with any child, but if they have a social and communication interaction disorder then this is more likely to happen.
Extra cleaning products – to tidy up after soiling or smearing for example, or because they are unable to eat without making a mess.
You do not need a diagnosis to have your claim accepted, and a diagnosis alone wont mean it will be accepted either. You need to have had the difficulties for 3 months and expect them to have them for a further 6 months. Therefore, they do not have to be “disabled” just have something that is “disabling” them for at least an expected 9 months – in either their care and/or mobility.
Remember it’s all about – what is the condition? – how does this effect them compared to their peers without the condition? How can this be treated? What would be the consequences if they did not receive the help? Always give examples to help back-up what you are saying. Make it clear how often and for how long your child needs the help. Make sure you include “evidence” – letters, reports, etc. Make sure you fill in all the contact details for all professionals you are seeing, prescription repeats to show medication.
If you ring them and have a paper form they will back date it until the date it was sent out. Personally I find it a very emotionally draining and long process to do the form and prefer to do it on my computer (you can do it online or print it off). Not only can I take my time but when it comes to renewal I can copy and paste over any things that have remained the same as last time. This is also easier if you make any mistakes.
Get someone to fill in the form where it says “Anyone else who knows your child.” I tend to go for the most professional/qualified person (in our case the paediatrician), but you may want to go for someone who understands your child’s needs more, or who can better explain them. Don’t worry if there isn’t anybody who can fill in the section – just send it off anyway. You can also send in supporting evidence after you have submitted the form.
As I say it is emotionally draining to think of all the ways in which your child is “different” and needs help. For me I don’t even like to think of my children as “disabled” so the name of the form itself is upsetting enough. Keep a diary, that way you can jot things down as examples for the form and wont need to think too hard about what they are. Maybe treat yourself – even if it’s just to a relaxing bath, for when you have filled out the form too.
Other sites of help: