Benefits and Tax Credits for Families with Disabled Children
Benefits are complex. The following is a general guide to some benefits which parents or carers who work (or wish to work) and care for disabled children may need to be aware of. It is advisable to seek specific advice about your own family’s circumstances, particularly if you are not normally resident in the UK or were born outside of the UK.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP): Children, three months-15 years, can claim DLA. Adults of 16 and over can claim PIP. DLA and PIP can both be claimed by people who have substantial care and/or mobility needs, although the exact criteria are different. A child’s care needs have to substantially greater than a non-disabled child of the same age. DLA and PIP are ‘passports’ to other benefits and services. DLA and PIP, claimed for you or your children, do not depend on income so are not affected when you move into or out of paid work.
CA can be claimed by parents and carers if they earn less than the earnings limit and they care for someone receiving the daily living component of PIP or middle or higher rate care component of DLA. The earnings limit is after tax, National Insurance and some pension contributions and childcare costs have been deducted. If you are thinking of taking up lower paid work you may want to consider the effect it could have on your entitlement to CA.
UC is being introduced gradually by post code. Once on UC, you stay on UC even if you then move into a category of people not yet covered by it. It will eventually replace income based Job Seekers Allowance, Income based Employment Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support and Housing Benefit.
CTC can be claimed by people responsible for a child. WTC can be claimed by a lone working parent or a couple of which one or both work. They are calculated together. The basic amount you are awarded is tapered off as your income increases. Be sure to tell HM Revenue & Customs if your child gets DLA/PIP and at what level. This could increase the basic award.
You can also include 70% of your childcare costs (registered or approved childcare) in the calculation up to £175 a week for one child, £300 a week for two or more children. This applies if you are a lone working parent, if the non-working parent is incapacitated or a carer for a disabled person, or if you both work. The detail and the calculations are complex. You may need to get personal advice. (If you, your partner or a child you claim for are disabled you may be entitled to extra tax credits. Seek advice.)
If your disabled child, having been assessed by your local authority, is entitled to services, you can choose to have DP and buy the services yourself. DP are for the stipulated services and are not affected by what you earn.
These are grants from the local authority for disabled people or carers of disabled people, to help make changes to your home. If your local authority provides a grant to alter your home to suit your disabled child’s needs it is not affected by your income.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction (help with the council tax from your local authority) depend on your income. If you move into work, you may, depending on your income, still be entitled to such help but you need to inform your local authority for the benefits to be recalculated based on any changes to your income.
The Family Fund gives discretionary grants to families with severely disabled children under 18. They have their own definition of ‘severely disabled’. The grants are for things not supplied by statutory authorities. Families on certain benefits can apply – the benefits include Universal Credit, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit and Housing Benefit. See www.familyfund.org.uk.
You can qualify for help with health costs, for example prescriptions and sight tests, if you receive some benefits such as Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, and Guarantee credit of Pension Credit. Some people on Universal Credit may be entitled, and you may also be able to apply for help if you are on a low income.