Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance: impact study


May 2009 to December 2009

PSI researchers:

Deborah Smeaton

Karen Mackinnon

Sergio Salis

David Wilkinson

Background, summary and aims


Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA) are benefits intended for adults and children with a long-term illness or a disability. DLA and AA provide support to those who need help with personal care (care component) or have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally disabled (mobility component). Many disabled people eligible for DLA do not claim however.


Despite large sums of money being spent on DLA and AA, it remains unclear exactly how individuals are helped, what they spend their benefit on and what it enables them to do. This study provides an assessment of the impact of receiving DLA and AA. It seeks to explore the extent and manner in which individuals are helped by receiving DLA and/or AA. Outcomes of interest include:

  • Care and mobility arrangements;
  • Standards of living;
  • Social inclusion;
  • Expenditure on goods and services.


The study is based on secondary data analysis of The English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing (ELSA) and the 1996/1997 Family Resources Survey (FRS) Disability Follow-up survey. The secondary analyses of these surveys will explore the impact of DLA upon recipients compared with DLA eligible non-recipients across a wide range of outcomes including respondents’ circumstances and well-being.

Both cross sectional and longitudinal methods will be deployed:

(a) Cross sectional – Based on the characteristics of benefit recipients, the eligible population is identified. Outcomes are then compared among recipients and eligible non-recipients.

(b) Longitudinal - New benefit recipients will be identified over a 6 year period using ELSA in order to compare circumstances and outcomes pre and post benefit receipt.