There are a range of benefits available to families with children, and some benefits which are paid for children with disabilities in particular. This information is for parents of children aged under 16.
We also have information about benefits for autistic adults, and information about benefits for young autistic people (aged 16-20).
Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can be claimed for children who have additional care needs or difficulty with walking which are caused by a disability or health condition. DLA is a non-diagnosis specific benefit, so having a diagnosis of autism will not automatically lead to an award, but many children on the autism spectrum do qualify for the benefit. It is also entirely non-means tested, so your income and savings are not taken into account. DLA can be awarded at several different rates depending on the level of additional care that the child requires, ranging from just over £20 up to over £130 per week.
To apply for DLA you will need to complete a detailed application form. You can order a form by ringing the Department for Work and Pensions on 08457 123 456 or 0800 220674 in Northern Ireland. You can also download the application form online.
For more details, see our information about DLA for Children. You can also read our information about mobility benefits, care benefits and our tips for parents and carers.
If you are awarded DLA for your child, you may also be able to claim Carers Allowance for yourself. Carers Allowance is a benefit that is paid to carers who care for a child who has been awarded DLA at the middle or high rate (there are other qualifying benefits if you care for an adult). The carer must not be earning over £110 per week and must be spending at least 35 hours a week caring. Claims for Carer’s Allowance are made on form DS700.
In England, Wales and Scotland you can download a claim form or get one by calling the Carers Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321.
In Northern Ireland you can download a claim form or get one by calling the Disability and Carers Service on 028 9090 6186.
For more details, see our information about Carers Allowance.
Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit
Tax Credits can be paid to parents of children and to people who are working.
If DLA is awarded for your child you can get additional amounts of Child Tax Credits. To claim Tax Credits, call the Tax Credits Helpline on 0345 300 3900.
Housing Benefit and help with Council Tax or Rates
If you pay rent and have a low income and savings of under £16,000, you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit. Some people on a very low income get all their rent paid. Some people who are working or have some savings get some money towards the cost of their rent.
There are various different schemes that can reduce the amount of Council Tax that you have to pay. Council Tax Support is a means tested reduction of your bill. Council Tax discounts are reductions that are not means tested and depend on who is living in the property. The Disability Reduction scheme can reduce the bill where the home has been adapted for a disabled person.
In Northern Ireland you can get means tested help to pay your rates, and it is also possible to qualify for a non means tested disability reduction for adapted properties.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax are administered by your local authority and by the Housing Executive and Land & Property Services in Northern Ireland.
Income Support is a means tested benefit that can be paid to people who have a low income and meet certain criteria. Carers and lone parents of children aged under five can claim Income Support if their income and savings are low enough. To claim Income Support call 0800 0556688, or in Northern Ireland contact your local social security office.
For more details, see www.gov.uk/income-support
The current British Government intends to gradually abolish means-tested benefits including Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Income Support and replace these new benefits with Universal Credit. Universal Credit started to apply to a very small number of new benefit claimants in 2014. The introduction of Universal Credit has been a lot slower than planned. As of October 2014 just 0.03% of eligible benefit claims had been put on the Universal Credit system. If Universal Credit continues to be introduced it may replace current means-tested benefits by 2023. i
Challenging Benefit Decisions
If you disagree with a decision about your benefit, you have the right to challenge the decision. There are strict time limits which apply. For more information, see our information on benefit appeals and reconsiderations.
Our Welfare Rights Adviser
provides advice and information about benefits.
Quick link to this page: www.autism.org.uk/benefitsforparents