This blog post lays down the different types and categories of social security benefits that can be availed by people suffering from autism along with their caregivers. There have been significant changes in certain benefit policies, while others have reamines status quo. Likewise, there are terms and conditions to each. This blog will help to unriddle these complex provisions to give the reader a clear , concise idea of how to access benefits with the least hassle. 

Can you claim benefits for autism? 

Yes, children and adults who suffer from autism , along with caregivers and parents of autistic children can claim a range of benefits, depending on different living circumstances and criterion; much of the structure has been overhauled into the Universal Credits system, yet others remain outside it. It is therefore crucial that the outline is presented to the intended beneficiaries, so they can make an apt choice. 

The benefits across the spectrum include : 

  • DLA-Disability Living Allowance
  • Employment Support Allowance, Child Tax Credits, Income Support, Housing Benefits etc. most of which have been consolidated into a single means-tested benefit – namely the Universal Credit Scheme

Benefits for Children with Autism 

Children living with autism ( upto the age of 16) are eligible for the DLA- i.e. Disability Living Allowance, which does not depend upon the diagnosis of autism or any other disorder for its award. 

Children living with any diagnosis on the autism spectrum can claim benefits under it; moreover, it is non-means tested, which means that the beneficiary’s level of income and savings are not taken into consideration while granting the benefit.  

DLA payments comprise 2 different categories, which themselves are segregated in levels. The table below illustrates the provisions. 

Care componentHow much (weekly)
Higher rate£89.60
Middle rate£60.00
Lower rate£23.70
Mobility componentHow much (weekly)
Higher rate£62.55
Lower Rate £23.70

Care Component of DLA 

  • The higher rate provides for children who require care and supervision throughout the day and night , along with children who are terminally ill and not expected to live beyond 6 months. 
  • On the contrary, if the child needs care only for some hours of the day or night or requires renal dialysis, then the middle band applies 
  • The lowest band applied for children who only need a few or one hour of care during the day

Mobility Component of DLA – which has only two bands, unlike the care component 

  • The high rate is for children who are 3 and above who face severe physical difficulties such as inability to walk, lack of arms or legs, deafness or blindness etc. which puts them in extreme danger in the absence of a caretaker. 

This compensation band also applies to children with significant mental impairment or learning disabilities, that could cause them  to engage in disruptive or self-destructive behaviour thus necessitating constant supervision. 

  • The low rate applies to children who are 5 and above and are mobile, but still find it difficult to navigate by themselves or lose direction etc. i.e. they lack the mobility skills a similar child of the same age would possess if they weren’t autistic. 

Earlier Benefits ( prior to the  Universal Credit system) included: 

  • Child Tax Credits

For parents with autistic children

  • Housing Benefit :

For rent allowances for caregivers whose income and savings is below a certain level

  •  Income Support :

For parents with low income and 

  • Council Tax Discounts :

Inclusive of the Disability Reduction Scheme- for households in which disabled people reside/or have been repurposed in a disabled friendly manner. 

All but the DRS schere were means-tested, meaning that they depended on the income and savings level of the concerned parent(s). 

This has been replaced by the Universal Credit Scheme which is non-means tested and depends only on the disability and its severity just like the DLA , which awards the benefits at varying rates depending on the extent of the additional care the child requires.  

Hence new or renewed claims will fall under this new scheme, except under special , individually- decided circumstances. 

* There is also a new Motability Scheme, under which the parent of an autistic child can name up to two additional in which new cras, or even the benefits awards such as DLA can be exchanged to obtain a car that is fitted to the needs of the child, thus eliminating the need to wait for accessible transportation. For more information visit (How the Motability Scheme can help if you care for someone with autism). 

Benefits for Adults with Autism 

These benefits pertain to autistic adults between the ages of 16 and state retirement age.

Adults also qualify for DLA- Disability Living Allowance, although this is gradually being converted into a new scheme called Personal Independence Payment (PIP); hence those on the DLA will gradually be shifted to the PIP, unless they have already attained the age of 65. 

Following schemes catered to different needs of Adults :  

  • Jobseeker’s allowance : 

a) Out of work benefits

b) Non-means tested, contribution based benefit for those who have made contributions to the National Insurance Scheme and 

c) Means-tested  for those whose income and savings are low enough to qualify- this is inclusive of the income of the beneficiary and spouse, not parents of other friends who act as caregivers. 

  • Employment and Support Allowance : 

 a)Non-means-tested for those who have made contributions to the  National Insurance Scheme and

 b) Means-tested for those whose income and savings is low enough to qualify 

*In both these cases, the means-tested schemes are gradually being subsumed under the Universal Coverage, although the contribution based benefits remain intact. 

  • Income Support : 

For autistic parents or carers of children under 5 years of age and do only limited or no work. (This too is being subsumed under Universal Credits Scheme)

  • Carer’s Allowance : 

Parents or caregivers of autistic children/adults receiving benefits are eligible for this amount , as long as they spend 35 hours/week. 

  • Autistic individuals above the age of 16 i.e.legal adults could claim the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), which is offered to students pursuing a higher education  but suffer from long term health conditions, mental illnesses or learning difficulties. Autism is included within this rubric. 

Other than these, the Worker’s Tax Credit, Housing Benefits, and Council Tax Support/Discount follows the same rules as illustrated above- they all fall under the larger rubric of Universal Credits now. 

As seen above much of the tax credits or deductions are included within the benefits of the Universal Credits system now, although they were separately provided prior to its introduction. 

Additional Benefits for Children, Adults, and Caregivers 

  • The National Key Scheme (Public Toilets) : 

This scheme provides the keys that give access to toilets adapted for special needs individuals, within towns and cities. The keys could be purchased online or procured for the local council offices. 

  • VAT Exemptions and Relief : 

Provided on those necessities that cater to disabled individuals. For example, equipment and appliances such as medical or surgical instruments and provisions e.g. beds, lifts, hoists etc. 

Moreover, if any home improvements are undertaken to the end of providing the disabled with easier access e.g. bathroom renovations, installation of lifts or access equipment such as ramps, this will also be exempted under zero VAT. 

  • Although income support and other housing schemes provide for waiver on water metered connections and bills, for households having children suffering from diseases such as flaky skin, Crohn’s disease or requiring home dialysis, the extra sum can be provisioned through various organizations that cater to financing diabled children’s needs. 

Do You Have Concerns Regarding the Claims Forms ? 

Worried about the technicalities of filling out the claims form to obtain benefits? This post provides guidance on this as well. Parents and caregivers have concerns over the lengthy and technical forms and the ability of assessors to truly understand the nature and difficulties of their wards. 

Here are a few tips to follow while filling out the form to ensure that your child’s/ward’s/your own condition is sufficiently explained. 

  • Many parents complain that the form focuses too much on “physical difficulties’ ‘, while giving short shrift to other problem areas such as cognitive and emotional support. For example, a child may require more supervision to ensure their safety; they may need assistance in communicating etc. 
  • In furtherance to the above question, it is essential to spell out the details of the support the child requires; where “yes” or “no” boxes do not suffice, make it a point to elaborate on the nature of extra care that is needed and the effort made towards it. 
  • Ensure that all the necessary documentation is included in the application. This is not restricted to the diagnosis or the doctor’s reports/ assessment. These can also pertain to teacher’s assessments from schools., the observations of other family members or members of the community/neighbourhood that the family has contact with.

For those who are not professionals the maintenance of a journal, such as a caregivers journal or a teacher’s journal can help the assessor understand exactly how much and what kinds of help and support are being given to the child in question. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can you claim benefits for autism ? 

How much amount will I receive as DLA from the government, if my child is autistic? 

The DLA- Disability Living Allowance provided varies depending on the extent of the requirements of care and severity of illness.. It could range anywhere between £23.70 and £152.15 a week.

What happens when my autistic child turns 18 in the UK ?

The National Health Service (NHS) will still continue to provide for the medical care of the individual, although in certain cases a change of doctors or medical team may require payments from the family themselves and not the government. 

Moreover, there are different benefit packages for adults and children suffering from autism which have been consolidated under the Universal Credit Scheme, thus making a jump from one to the other relatively easier. 

What can the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) be utilized for ? 

The PIP or Personal Independence Payment can be put to any use that is essential for an autistic individual’s needs- educational expenditure .e.g tuition fee, mobility, communications etc. in addition to self-care and health requirements. 

How much compensation can I expect through PIP- Personal Independence Payment ? 

As detailed above the PIP is compartmentalized into care and mobility benefits. The differences in the eligibility will determine which end of the benefit spectrum will apply to the concerned individual/family. It ranges between £23.70 or £62.55.

Do I receive any additional benefits through PIP( Personal Independence Payment ) ? 

As such there are no additional entitlements , other than those you can claim separately. These include reductions in council tax, road tax or travel bills. However, a separate PIP award letter needs to be furnished to claim these additional benefits. 

This blog has detailed the different benefits available to children suffering from autism, adults with autism and caregivers/parents of children or wards with autism. The different conditions as well as the separate provisions have been outlined for the main scenarios and the process of filing the claims form along with the points to note while doing the same have been emphasized. If you have any comments , suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact us and let us know. We welcome your input. 

References 

  1. Service, G. D. (2015, January 12). Disability living allowance (DLA) for children. GOV.UK. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children
  2. Benefits for autistic children. National Autistic Society – Leading UK charity for Autistic people. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2021, from https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/benefits-and-money/benefits/benefits-you-can-get/benefits-for-autistic-children
  3. (2021). Retrieved 1 October 2021, from https://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/116911/Autism-and-ADHD-family-handbook-rights-and-benefits-section.pdf
  4. How much DLA you can get for your child. (2021). Retrieved 1 October 2021, from https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/disability-living-allowance/before-you-claim-dla/claiming-dla/
  5. Extra benefits and help you can get while on DLA. (2019). Citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/disability-living-allowance/help-with-your-dla-claim/disability-living-allowance-dla-extra-money-and-benefits-you-can-get/
  6. Benefits for autistic adults. (n.d.). Www.autism.org.uk. https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/benefits-and-money/benefits/benefits-you-can-get/benefits-for-autistic-adults
  7. Autism Benefits I Disability Living Allowance for children with Autism. (2019, January 16). Renaissance. https://www.renaissancelegal.co.uk/blog/disability-living-allowance-children-autism/
  8. How can disability benefit awards be increased for autistic adults? (2019, April 16). Autistica. https://www.autistica.org.uk/our-research/research-projects/disability-benefit-assessments-for-autistic-adults
  9. Personal Independence Payment (PIP). (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/pip/what-youll-get
  10. Changing from child to adult care if your child is autistic. (2019, May 2). Nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/autism-and-everyday-life/changing-from-child-to-adult-care/
  11. Extra money and help PIP entitles you to. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/before-claiming/extra-help-pip-entitles-you-to/
  12. How the Motability Scheme can help if you care for someone with autism. (2018, April 2). Motability Scheme. https://news.motability.co.uk/scheme-news/how-the-motability-scheme-can-help-if-you-care-for-someone-with-autism/

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