Benefits for people with a learning disability and their carers

If you have a learning disability or you are caring for someone with a disability it is important to make sure you are getting the support you are entitled to. There are a range of benefits available and we’ve included information about the ones we believe are most relevant to people with a learning disability and their carers. For further information about benefits, please visit

Additionally, our Family Support Service may be able to help.


Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax free-free benefit for disabled people who need help with mobility or care costs.

DLA is ending for people who were born after 8 April 1948 and are 16 or over. It is now being replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) for all 16 to 65 year olds but remains in place for children.

You can only make a new DLA claim if you are under 16.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child under 16.

The child’s disability or health condition must mean one or both of the following apply:

  • they need more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability
  • they have difficulty getting about.

This can include anyone with a learning disability who can actually walk but is a danger to themselves or others when they are out in the community. This might be because they have very limited understanding of road safety or stranger danger or of the need to walk.

Your child may need an assessment to work out what help they need. DLA for children is a tax-free benefit made up of two components (parts).

Your child might qualify for one or both components. You can apply online, or call the Disability Living Allowance Helpline on 0345 712 3456. Textphone: 0345 722 4433. Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

When your child turns 16 you will need to apply for PIP. Their DLA will end if they decide not to apply for PIP. 

For further information about DLA for children and PIPs for young people over 16 you can download these guides:

Claiming Disability Living Allowance for Children
Personal Independence Payment and Other Benefits at 16
Step by Step Guide to Claiming DLA for Children under 16


Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.

PIP can help towards paying some of the extra costs disabled people face, such as paying for support around the home or using the money to pay for taxis to help you get around.

PIP is a non-means tested, non-taxable benefit, which you can spend in a way that best meets your needs. You can get PIP whether you’re in work or not. 

The rate you get depends on how the condition affects you, not the condition itself. You’ll need an assessment to work out the level of help you get.

Your rate will be regularly reassessed to make sure you’re getting the right support. Your disability or health condition You must have a long-term health condition or disability and face difficulties with ‘daily living’ or getting around.

You must have had these difficulties for 3 months and expect them to last for at least 9 months, unless you’re terminally ill (you don’t expect to live more than 6 months).

Daily Living Difficulties

You may get the daily living component of PIP if you need help with things like:

  • preparing or eating food
  • washing, bathing and using the toilet
  • dressing and undressing
  • reading and communicating
  • managing your medicines or treatments
  • making decisions about money
  • engaging with other people

Mobility difficulties

You may get the mobility component of PIP if you need help going out or moving around.

Videos explaining PIP

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched five videos to help people who are claiming, or are about to claim, PIP. The videos are also available with British Sign Language.

The PIP videos provide information on:

  • who can claim
  • how to claim
  • what supporting information needs to be provided when making a claim
  • the face-to-face assessment
  • the decision process.   

To apply, call the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim. Telephone: 0800 917 2222 Textphone: 0800 917 7777.

For further information, please visit


Employment Support Allowance

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) can be claimed by people who have a disability, illness or health condition that makes it difficult or impossible for them to work.  Citizen’s Advice has a good guide to what is involved if you think you may be entitled to claim it.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has produced an easy-ready guide


Carer's Allowance 

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers.

It is a benefit paid to help people who look after someone who is disabled. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. It is paid at a basic rate of £64.60 a week (from April 2018).

You may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you are 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week or more for someone who is ill or disabled.  You can get Carer’s Allowance if you are caring for someone who is in receipt of DLA or PIPs at the middle or highest rate for personal care.

Carers UK have good guides about Carers, Benefits and Carers' Rights under the new Care Act 2014: Looking After Someone, Assessments and the Care Act.

Contact a Family also have a downloadable Carer’s Allowance factsheet.


Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help people aged between 16 and 64 with their living costs. You may be able to get it in you’re on a low income or out of work.

Universal Credit was introduced in Reading Borough in December 2017. It is now a full service area.

It can be paid to people who are out of work and to those who are in work.

It is replacing most of the existing means-tested benefits for people of working age with a single monthly payment.

Universal Credit will replace the following:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit and the amount of Universal Credit you will get depends on your circumstances and your income.

You cannot claim Universal Credit if you have three or more dependent children. Apart from this, most people of working age can claim. Usually, you have to be at least 18 years of age to claim but special rules allow some 16 and 17 year olds to claim, including many disabled 16 – 17 year olds.

When you first claim Universal Credit you will not be paid any money until 5 weeks after you submit your claim, you will then be paid monthly.

Advance Payments

If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment you may be able to get an advance of your first Universal Credit payment.

You can ask for an advance payment of your Universal Credit if you are in financial hardship while you wait for your first payment, for example, if you can’t afford to pay your rent or buy food.

You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments, or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, for example, from your wages or other benefit you may be getting.

Alternative Payment Arrangements

Universal Credit aims to prepare claimants for the world of work. It also encourages claimants to take responsibility for their own financial affairs. To that end, Universal Credit is paid in a single monthly sum to households, who are expected to manage their own budgets, making housing costs a priority.

However, there are Alternative Payment Arrangements available.

A person with a learning disability including problems with literacy and/or numeracy is likely to be eligible for Alternative Payment Arrangements.

Claimants who are identified as needing additional support may be able to access:

  • The housing element of Universal Credit paid as a Managed Payment direct to the landlord
  • More frequent than monthly payments
  • A Split Payment of an award between partners

For more information, you can download a useful factsheet published by Contact a Family.